Leeds United boss Uwe Rosler was left cursing his luck as an 89th minute goal by Bobby Zamora condemned his team to their fourth defeat in five games when they took on top of the table Brighton.
In the process the Whites made it six games without a win at Elland Road this season and 11 in total since they last won at the ground to set a new record low for the club.
Defeat was harsh on United after they had matched their unbeaten opponents for much of the game, but had to play the last six minutes plus five minutes of added time with 10 men after defender Liam Cooper hobbled off injured when all three substitutes had already been used.
It was 1-1 at the time and they could not hold on as Brighton sub Zamora produced a good finish to chip the ball over home keeper Marco Silvestri from a tight angle with just a minute of normal time to go.
Cooper had early scored for Leeds with a glancing header from a well worked and well delivered free-kick by Alex Mowatt to equalise on 22 minutes after Brighton’s first attack in the 15th minute had seen them open the scoring totally against the run of play through winger Solly March.
After failing to fire in the first half of any of their previous home games under Rosler United had looked more committed this time and more direct, but too often the final ball let them down in good positions and there was a lack of clear chances.
Chris Wood did see a near post shot deflected wide from a low Stuart Dallas cross a minute after the visitors scored and he headed a great chance wide on 32 minutes following another excellent Mowatt free-kick.
Mowatt also saw a 20-yard shot saved by Brighton keeper David Stockdale and the lively Jordan Botaka hammered a long range strike over.
But Brighton looked dangerous on the break and Silvestri had to get down to hold a Dale Stephens shot and Tomer Hemed turned a shot over after a corner had only been half-cleared.
The second half saw the game open up more initially with pressure at both ends. Leeds defended well and came close to going in front when the ball ricocheted to Wood in the six-yard box following a corner, but the striker could not react quick enough and the ball appeared to go over off his knee.
Brighton keeper David Stockdale then got lucky as his attempted clearance kick bounced back off Mowatt and the ball flew just wide of the goal.
However, that was the last of the near things for United. March hit the crossbar after cutting in off his wing for Brighton, but the game appeared to be petering out for a draw.
Both sides made changes as they tried to improve with Rosler throwing on Will Buckley against his old team for the ineffective Dallas then Mirco Antenucci for Mowatt and Sam Byram for Botaka.
None of the subs were able to make any impact and the decisions to put all three on came back to bite the Leeds head coach when he lost Cooper, who had been one of his best players,
The defender tried to carry on, but could not and with 10 men United were unable to hold on as Zamora took advantage of getting space for the first time to net the winner.
He cheekily tied a 50-yard lob a minute later that went over and Sam Baldock saw an angled shot saved low down as Brighton threatened to add to their lead in added time.
It was all so disappointing for the Whites and head coach Rosler certainly felt his side was unlucky to lose.
He said: “The players responded very well from the first minute and the supporters got right behind us.
“There were three key moments in the game. First, their first goal, a duel in the middle bounces their way, one pass, one goal.
“I feared the worst at that moment, but we showed good character and got the goal.
“The second moment was that Chris Wood didn’t take that great opportunity.
“Then in the second half we tried to maintain their energy levels because we were full out from the start. We made some substitutions because of the international schedule.
“It looked like the game was going 1-1 and the third key moment was Liam Cooper’s injury. It was a massive blow on top of losing Charlie Taylor (to a virus) and Ross Turnbull.
“But that is life, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We go again.
“I feel sorry for the players, the supporters and the owner because when you invest so much and you get paid so little at that time it has to be handled very carefully because the last thing you want is for players to lose their confidence.”
Leeds United 1
Brighton & Hove Albion 2
(March 14, Zamora 89)
Saturday, October 17, 2016
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Botaka (Byram 77), Adeyemi, Cook, Mowatt (Antenucci 67), Dallas (Buckley 62), Wood.
Brighton: Stockdale, Saltar, Greer (Hunemeier 40), Dunk, Bong, Rosenior (Crofts 60), Kayal, Stephens, March, Baldock, Hemed (Zamora 77).
Referee: Darren Deadman.