Brighton held by Preston
Brighton lost ground on Burnley and Middlesbrough in the hunt for automatic promotion as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Preston at Deepdale.
Preston's Calum Woods came closest to scoring with an effort that crashed against the bar in a match where both sides struggled to hit the target.
The hosts almost struck after just 60 seconds as a smart turn by Daniel Johnson released Adam Reach, who whistled a left-footed shot just wide from 20 yards.
And down the other end Brighton went within inches of taking the lead in the third minute as Jamie Murphy cut in from the left and fired narrowly over from 25 yards.
Tenacious play by Joe Garner earned Preston a corner after 22 minutes from which Paul Huntington rose highest, but nodded straight at David Stockdale from eight yards.
It was a first half short on penalty-area action, with neither side able to pick out a telling final ball as they managed to muster just one shot on target between them.
Murphy thought he had changed all that in first-half stoppage time, as he latched on to Anthony Knockaert's chip through and lashed the ball home - but the flag was up for offside.
Preston started the second half positively and after some smart passing around the edge of the area after 52 minutes, Alan Browne teed up Garner on the edge of the area but his strike was deflected over the bar.
And the hosts almost took the lead four minutes later as a superb run and cross by Reach down the left found Woods at the back post and his left-footed strike from 12 yards cannoned back off the underside of the bar.
Suddenly the chances were flowing and it was one-way traffic as another Reach cross found Garner in the middle but the striker, who had scored in his last two Deepdale appearances, headed straight at Stockdale from 12 yards.
Brighton had their first effort on target after 64 minutes after a misplaced Reach pass fell to Sam Baldock, who slipped Murphy in down the left but his strike from 18 yards was pushed away by Chris Kirkland on his Preston league debut.
The Seagulls were starting to find more space as Baldock whistled an effort from 20 yards just wide after 70 minutes.
Brighton's top scorer Tomer Hemed, who had notched five in his previous six games, had the chance to break the deadlock after 75 minutes but sliced an effort high and wide from 18 yards.
Hemed did find the net with three minutes to go after a horrendous fumble from Kirkland presented the ball to the striker, but the linesman's flag again denied Brighton and spared Kirkland's blushes.