Championship leaders Brighton & Hove Albion had a frustrating afternoon as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Preston North End.
Albion were without central midfield duo Dale Stephens and Beram Kayal, while captain Gordon Greer and Kazenga LuaLua had not recovered from injuries to return to the squad.
The hosts even played the eight minutes of injury-time with ten men after left-back Gaetan Bong was stretchered off.
Both sides had opportunities in the first half but Brighton struggled to create any clear openings in the second half and Preston sub Joe Garner went closest to a winner when his header was headed off the line by Bruno.
Brighton had the first sight of goal after just three minutes when Sam Baldock brilliantly controlled Bruno’s long ball forward but then fired wide of the far post.
Albion had another chance after seven minutes when Baldock back-heeled Lewis Dunk’s long ball forward to Tomer Hemed but he blazed over from the edge of the area.
The visitors then had a decent shout for a penalty two minutes later when Dunk was caught the wrong side of Jordan Hugill, who appeared to be pulled back, but referee Andy Davies waved play on.
Preston then went close on 13 minutes when Eoin Doyle met Paul Gallagher’s corner at the near post but David Stockdale pushed away the header.
A mazy run by Brighton’s Jamie Murphy resulted in a free kick on the edge of the penalty area on 23 minutes, from which Rosenior and Murphy combined well before the latter’s low strike was saved low to his left by Preston keeper Jordan Pickford.
The hosts created another opening on 32 minutes with Murphy’s inswinging free kick appearing to be destined for the net until a slight deflection from a Preston player took the ball over the bar.
Just two minutes later, it was Preston’s turn to threaten as Alan Browne threaded a pass through to Hugill, whose low shot was saved low down to his left by Stockdale. Seagulls defender Uwe Huneemeir was kicked in the head in the build-up to the chance but returned to the pitch after a couple of minutes of treatment following Stockdale’s save.
Brighton were awarded another free kick in a dangerous position in the 40th minute when Bailey Wright was booked for a foul on Hemed but Gaetan Bong’s free kick hit the wall as the game was scoreless at half-time.
It was Preston who had the first opening of the second period when Adam Reach broke forn the left before finding Gallagher 20 yards out but he fired well wide.
Albion boss Chris Hughton introduced the matchwinner from the previous two games, Bobby Zamora, on 62 minutes and he was right into the action as he had a shot blocked shortly after his introduction.
The visitors’ Greg Cunningham flicked a header just wide from Gallagher’s free kick on 66 minutes, before Preston introduced striker Garner, who returned to action after a three-game ban. Solly March replaced Liam Rosenior at the same time for Brighton.
Albion struggled to get going in the second half and Preston went close twice in quick succession after 71 minutes. Daniel Johnson miskicked Gallagher’s free kick when well placed, before Gallagher crossed the ball back in and Garner’s header at the back post was headed off the line by the back-peddling Bruno.
At the other end, Rohan Ince blasted high and wide with 15 minutes to go as home fans’ frustrations began to grow, while Preston’s Browne had a dangerous low cross shot gathered by Stockdale on 82 minutes.
Albion left-back Gaetan Bong was stretchered off on 88 minutes, which meant the hosts finished the game with ten men having used all their substitutes.
Preston finished strongly in the eight minutes of injury-time and Gallagher had a shot deflected over, before Garner volleyed a corner over from just six yards in injury-time as the points were shared.
BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Hunemeier, Dunk, Bong; Rosenior (March 66), Ince, Crofts, Murphy (Holla 79); Baldock, Hemed (Zamora 62). Unused subs: Maenpaa, Calderon, Goldson, Manu.
PRESTON: Pickford; Vermijl (Huntingdon 85), Woods, Wright, Cunningham, Reach; Browne, Johnson, Gallagher; Doyle (Garner 66), Hugill. Unused subs: Kirkland, Kilkenny, Keane, Welsh,, May.
Att: 24, 629.
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