A CLINICAL first half double from the dangerous Will Buckley condemned Town to a third home Championship defeat of the season despite a last-gasp strike from loan man Simon Church.
Gus Poyet's sleek passing side got themselves in front and then resisted the best Town could offer until the final minute to return south with a 2-1 win for their 712 travelling fans in a crowd of 13,299.
This was despite losing first choice keeper Thomasz Kuszczak in the warm-up and throwing in Peter Brezovan at the last minute, leaving only six on the bench.
Brighton dominated the first half with controlled passing and made plenty of use of the space between Town's midfield and defence.
Simon Grayson's side were already being dragged around the pitch when Buckley opened the scoring on five minutes, cutting in from the right and beating Alex Smithies at his near post with a smart shot which caught everyone off guard.
Town huffed and puffed and Danny Ward created a great chance for Church to level on 34 minutes, but he headed over and Brighton roared straight back.
Ashley Barnes had a header wiped out for offside but Buckley made it two on 39 minutes, jinking his way past Peter Clarke and scoring after Craig Mackail-Smith's through ball had left Joel Lynch on his backside.
Town desperately needed to get a goal back at the start of the second half and they pressed forward with purpose but they just couldn't find a breakthorugh, Lee Novak stabbing a Jack Hunt cross inches wide of the traget.
Grayson made a double substitution on 67 minutes, sending on Adam Hammill and Alan Lee and Town continued to do better without luck around the box.
Smithies did well to deny Buckley a hat-trick with a diving save on 72 minutes and then again with a close range block in stoppage time, only moments after Church had pounced from close range when Brezovan spilled a shot from Danny Ward.