Graham Potter allowed himself a brief celebration before an almost embarrassed smirk broke across his face.
He has been on the raw end of many an afternoon like this as Brighton boss. He will feel the pain, he will know well the puncture that sucked the life out of three corners of this ground as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes.
But will he care? Not one jot. For Brentford, this will go down as a harsh lesson in the realities of Premier League football. It’s a cliche because it’s true: fail to take your chances, fail to press home your advantage and teams will punish you.
Leandro Trossard (left) celebrates his last minute goal alongside team-mate Adam Lallana
Trossard helped Brighton to a smash and grab victory at the Brentford Community Stadium
Brighton learnt that lesson more harshly than most last season but on Saturday they were the masters of a cruel twist of fate which ends Brentford’s unbeaten start to life in the top flight
Potter will point to the resilience and smarts his side showed in staying in a match when they were second best for all but a few minutes. And so he should. They did the hard work and made it count a minute from time, when substitute Alexis Mac Allister drove towards the Brentford area and fed Leandro Trossard, who worked a yard of space and curled home the game’s only goal.
It meant Brighton could toast a third victory in four and Yves Bissouma could dance for their supporters once more.
Manager Graham Potter congratulates his goalkeeper Robert Sanchez at the end of the game
Rico Henry (centre) of Brentford battles for possession with Jakub Moder of Brighton
For Brentford, meanwhile, this will be a sickener. They were excellent for long periods, with Ivan Toney superb and Bryan Mbeumo a threat throughout.
Unfortunately for Thomas Frank’s side, that means nothing and so ends their 15-game unbeaten run in league football – the longest in England’s top four divisions.
There was plenty cause for optimism moving forward, not that it will feel like that right now. Not when they could hear the Brighton fans streaming out on to the concourses singing about an upcoming tour of Europe.
Among that pocket of travelling fans who had ventured up from the south coast was chairman Tony Bloom. He posed for selfies, he was serenaded throughout. He resisted invitations to sing them a song, preferring to listen as his fellow supporters reminded everyone how they recently pocketed a hefty fee for Ben White.
MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE
BRENTFORD (3-5-2): Raya 6; Ajer 7, Jansson 6.5, Pinnock 7; Canos 6 (Roerslev 61, 6, Janelt 6 (Jensen 68, 6) Baptiste 6.5 (Onyenka 75, 7), Norgaard 6.5, Henry 7; Toney 8, Mbeumo 7
Subs not used: Fernandez, Thompson, Forss, Wissa, Ghoddos, Onyeka, Zanka
Yellow: Canos, Mbeumo, Ajer
Manager: Thomas Frank 6.5
BRIGHTON (3-4-3): Sanchez 6.5; Webster 6.5 (Moder 37, 6), Duffy 7, Dunk 7; Veltman 6, Lallana 6.5, Bissouma 7, Cucurella 7 (March 82, 6); Maupay 6, Trossard 8, Welbeck 6.5 (Mac Allister 64, 8)
Subs not used: Scherpen, Steele, Alzate, Locadia, Roberts, Richards
Goal: Trossard 90
Yellow: Veltman, Duffy
Manager: Graham Potter 7
Referee: Graham Scott 5
Season at a glance
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- Ligue 1
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Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma (left) attempts to take on the Brentford defence
Some of that £50million went on new left back Marc Cucurella. Brighton spent £15m to bring the Spain international to England and Sergi Canos took it upon himself to kindly offer his compatriot a welcome gift.
A few minutes into his Brighton debut, Cucurella was clattered by the wing back’s arm. It was an early signal of intent from Brentford, who were swarming all over Brighton by the end of the first half.
They banged and the door and yet few efforts came much closer than Toney’s first sniff at goal – one only the striker saw coming. From Mbeumo’s layoff, 40 yards out, the striker went for goal first time. His effort fizzed and dipped just over Robert Sanchez’s bar.
Brighton had their own flashes during a frantic opening period, the clearest after Leandro Trossard slid in the returning Danny Welbeck, whose shot was saved by David Raya.
From there, though, the pairing of Toney and Mbeumo began to wrest control. They combined from a neat free kick routine which ended with Toney heading over.
The Bees looked the more likely to score throughout but were unable to take their chances
Brentford fans saw their side’s 15-match unbeaten run in league football come to an end
Minutes later, Mbeumo flashed a shot over from Toney’s cut back before missing a second bite at the cherry following a neat dummy from his strike partner. Brighton were teetering and a hole was blown into their rearguard when Adam Webster was forced off with an injury.
That prompted a reshuffle and only more Brentford pressure. In stoppage time, Mbeumo curled another effort just wide having worked a yard of space from Toney’s through ball. And then Vitaly Janelt forced a smart save from Sanchez having played a one-two with Toney – who else? – and flashed a shot at goal.
Half time only delayed the inevitable for Brighton, who were immediately on the back foot once more. Again, it was Toney and Mbeumo causing the most mischief as Brighton’s backline took it in turns to pick up yellow.
To their credit, though, the visitors did stem the flow of chances. For all Brentford’s promise and pressure they mustered few clear openings after the break and Potter’s bench made a difference
Mac Allister gave them more attacking thrust of their own and it was his one-two and his darting run that set up the goal which they barely deserved but will take. No questions asked.