Solly March & Bobby Zamora goals propel Brighton back to the Championship summit
Solly March and Bobby Zamora goals took Brighton back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Birmingham.
Jon Toral levelled for the Blues shortly after March's opener, but the Seagulls hit back to extend their undefeated club-record run to 19 matches.
Unchanged Brighton gave summer signing Zamora his first home start for 12 years, with new loan signing from Manchester United James Wilson on the bench.
Back by a crowd of 27,242, their biggest of the season, the Seagulls got in and behind the visitors' defence several times in the first 10 minutes and Israel international Tomer Hemed came close to breaking his goal drought early on.
Former Albion goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak came to Birmingham's rescue by saving a goalbound shot from Hemed with his legs after Zamora had broken through powerfully to set the chance up.
Brighton soon opened the scoring, though, as March netted a well-worked goal in front of the Birmingham supporters.
Good work down the wing from Jamie Murphy set up Liam Rosenior and his cross was fired home right-footed by March after his initial attempt was blocked by Kuszczak.
However, Albion's advantage lasted only five minutes as midfielder Toral netted his fourth goal of the season.
Toral headed calmly into the net from close in after goalkeeper David Stockdale could only parry Jacques Maghoma's shot.
The Seagulls lost Rosenior with an ankle injury before Beram Kayal had a fierce free-kick smartly saved by Kuszczak.
The hard-working March continued to cause the Blues defence problems and Albion skipper Gordon Greer failed to take advantage of his testing corner to the far post.
Birmingham could have snatched the lead in first half stoppage time, only for Toral to put a left-foot shot wide with Stockdale rooted to the line.
It allowed Zamora to restore Brighton's lead two minutes after the break - his fourth goal of the season.
The 34-year-old, starting at home for Albion for the first time since scoring in a 4-0 win over Watford at the Withdean Stadium in April 2003, was on hand to steer home after a shot from March was parried one-handed by Kuszczak.
Hemed, aiming for his first goal in 11 games, had a left-foot shot saved low down by Kuszczak, before the Polish keeper saved a low shot from March.
Zamora was given a standing ovation when he made way for Wilson on 65 minutes and at the other end Stockdale produced an important save to keep out a Demarai Gray shot with 16 minutes remaining.
Wilson, put through by Kayal, was unlucky not to score on debut when his left-foot shot struck the post and rebounded into the arms of Kuszczak.
Stockdale saved well from substitute David Davis in stoppage time as Brighton clinched their 10th win of the season.