Brighton and Hove Albion (h)
Exeter City 1
Brighton and Hove Albion 2.
Monday 3 January 2011.
Ref: Steve Tanner
Att: 6352 with 834 away fans.
BBC match report –
Substitute Ashley Barnes grabbed a last-minute winner as Brighton came from behind to beat Exeter.
The hosts led at the break thanks to Richard Logan's early smart turn and shot from six yards after Brighton failed to clear a Billy Jones corner.
Glenn Murray levelled for the League One leaders when he guided his close-range header in off the post.
Ryan Harley smashed a shot against the bar for Exeter before Barnes stroked the ball home at the far post.
That strike made it five successive wins for Brighton against the Grecians, who had beaten high-flying Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 in their last home outing before Christmas.
The home side wasted little time in taking the game to the visitors, with the wily Jamie Cureton seeing his chip from fully 25 yards superbly tipped over the bar by Casper Ankergren.
But the visitors' relief was shortlived as from the resulting corner Logan chested down Matt Taylor's header before swivelling to lash the ball home.
Only Ankergren prevented Exeter from extending their lead, producing fine saves to deny Logan, Cureton and Harley.
Brighton gradually began to find their feet as the half progressed but when they did carve an opening home keeper Paul Jones did well to push Matt Sparrow's shot around the post.
Craig Noone, making his Brighton debut following his arrival from Exeter's Devon rivals Plymouth, then jinked his way into the box but Jones was equal to his left-foot effort.
Brighton began to build a head of steam after the break in their search for an equaliser as half-time substitute Chris Wood and Sparrow both bobbled shots wide.
And, after Liam Sercombe had fired narrowly over for Exeter, they finally got their reward when Murray headed in Barnes' centre via the post.
As both sides went in search of a winner, Harley went closest for Exeter when he smashed a shot against the bar from 25 yards.
But with time running out Barnes latched on to Elliott Bennett's cross to break the home side's hearts and ensure his side maintained their six-point lead at the top.
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale told BBC Radio Devon:
"It doesn't feel great. Its not very often i say it, but i do feel we were unlucky today.
"It was an exteremly open game in the last half hour and we probably looked the side most likely to score.
"So the players are disappointed and we've come away with no points. But you have to keep your head up."
Brighton manager Gus Poyet told BBC Sussex:
"When you are in the position we are in and you need to win games you work right to the last minute.
"Credit to the whole team and the subs, who went in with the right attitude. I'm absolutely delighted with the victory."