Hull City spurn chance to seize control of promotion race after 1-0 defeat at Brighton
HULL City missed out on the opportunity to reclaim second spot in the Championship as they fell to a cruel 1-0 defeat at Brighton this evening.
An 83rd-minute free-kick from substitute Vincente was the fixture's defining moment and condemned the Tigers to their first away defeat since November 10.
It was a harsh on City after dominating long periods of the second half. Robert Koren, David Meyler and Ahmed Elmohamady all had chances to open the scoring as the Tigers' profligacy eventually paid a heavy price.
Steve Bruce's men rarely looked like conceding but fell to a late sucker punch when Vincente drove through a wall broken up by a push from a Brighton man.
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With automatic promotion rivals Leicester falling to a 2-1 loss to rock-bottom Peterborough earlier in the day, City knew a point at the Amex would be enough to see them reclaim second spot.
Making just one change from the side that had won 1-0 at Millwall seven days ago, with Jack Hobbs replacing the injured Abdoulaye Faye, the Tigers picked up where they had left off with a well-drilled opening.
Containing their pretty hosts and striking on the counter, City were first to threaten at pace. Stephen Quinn's threaded ball through to Koren brought a glimpse of goal but the covering tackle from Adam El-Abd was exceptional.
Brighton stuck to their passing principles and eventually began to turn the screw on their high-flying guests.
A sweetly-struck drive from David Lopez required an acrobatic save from David Stockdale, before the City keeper was called into action again when tipping over from Andrea Orlandi's free-kick.
Leonardo Ulloa headed Bruno's cross wide of the target just before the break but Brighton's threats were being kept to a minimum by the resilience of City.
A lack of possession had limited the Tigers' adventures but improvements after the break began to trouble Brighton.
Inside the 61st minute, both Koren and David Meyler had chances to open the scoring. Quinn's drive into the area ended with a low cross fired over by the stretching Koren, while Meyler could not hit the target when volleying Robbie Brady's deep cross wide.
Brighton had an even better chance at the other end. Vincente's sumptuous pass down the line to Wayne Bride carved open City but when the ball fell to Andrea Orlandi, the midfielder lashed wildly over from 12 yards out.
Bruce responded by introducing both Nick Proschwitz and new signing Gedo but it was Robbie Brady who worked Tomasz Kuszczak with an ambitious drive from 30 yards.
The Tigers sensed victory and Ahmed Elmohamady then came close when pressing on down the right. His low shot appeared destined for the bottom corner until Kuszczak pushed wide with an excellent stop.
Only one team looked likely to win it but, against the run of play, it was Brighton who broke the deadlock with seven minutes remaining.
A free-kick on the edge of the box was struck low by Vincente and neither a brittle wall nor Stockdale could keep it out.
City could not find the equaliser their play deserved and must now target a big week with three home games inside eight days.