The game was even and fairly tense inside the opening 10 minutes, before the first chance of the game fell to Kevin Phillips, but he was surprised that Paul Konchesky's cross went through to him and he was unable to keep it in.
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Kazenga LuaLua had a decent chance on 15 minutes to hit the target with a first-time shot, but he got underneath the ball and saw it sail into the stands when he might have done better.
Then less than 10 minutes after the opener Brighton were two ahead as this time Ward turned provider, putting in a cross for loanee Jesse Lingard to head home.
Just before the break Brighton could have been three ahead as LuaLua's effort from the edge of the box forced Kasper Schmeichel into a diving save to put it behind for a corner.