Brighton miss the chance to secure the title as David Stockdale concedes two own goals in defeat to Norwich

Norwich 2 Brighton 0: The hapless Stockdale scored two own goals as the excellent Alex Pritchard inspired Norwich to victory against Chris Hughton's former team

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The Independent Football

Even two own goals by keeper David Stockdale could not stop Brighton fans from enjoying a mini-promotion party, even if they will have to wait to be crowd champions.

Norwich would have been the ideal place for Hughton to clinch the title after being sacked by Norwich three years and three weeks ago.

While it is fair to say the majority of the Carrow Road crowd had turned against Hughton, there were some who thought he might have saved them – it is irrelevant really, as the Canaries got relegated anyway.

Hughton is too dignified a man to gloat, but he would not be human if he did not enjoy this season’s success, and at the same time putting one over Newcastle who also dispensed with his service, perhaps too prematurely.

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Hughton's return to Carrow Road was not an overly happy one (Getty)

It wasn’t to be though as Norwich enjoyed all the luck and Albion will have to wait to clinch the Championship title, with Newcastle still just about in the hunt.

City did not have a shot on target in the first half, yet were two goals to the good after Alex Pritchard twice hit the woodwork and the ball went in off David Stockdale. Each time.

Nearly 3,000 travelling Seagull supporters created a carnival atmosphere clad in the blue and white of their team and did not stop cheering their Premier League team-to-be even when losing.

The whole stadium took part in the minute’s applause as tribute to Ugo Ehiogu with both sets of fans chanting his name.

Norwich threatened to spoil the party within five minutes when Jonny Howson played in in a tantalising low cross, but Nelson Oliveira was a stud’s length away from connecting in the six-yard box.

Albion fans could not help but have a dig at City winger Alex Pritchard, who turned down a move to Brighton in favour of Norwich last summer.

Pritchard made them pay in the 18th minute when he helped put the home side ahead with a sizzling strike, which resulted in an own goal.

Josh Murphy made a strong run into Albion territory and the ball fell to Pritchard, whose shot came back off the crossbar and hit keeper David Stockdale on the back before going into the net.

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The ball hit the hapless Stockdale in the back and flew in (Getty)

Brighton’s influential Anthony Knockaert clashed with Graham Dorrans in the build up both were booked after going head to head.

If that goal ruffled the Seagulls’ feathers then City’s remarkable second, six minutes before the break, put them into a total tail spin.

In an amazing twist, Pritchard hit a side-footed curling shot from 20 yards after taking another pass from Murphy, the effort hit a post and rebounded back off Stockdale and into the net for yet another own goal.

Conceding one goal like that is pretty unfortunate, to have it happen twice when you are chasing a title is sheer bad luck.

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Pritchard picked up the Man of the Match award (Getty)

To make it worse Brighton had a shout for penalty moments earlier when Murphy went over Dorrans, but referee Tim Robinson was well-placed to turn down the appeals.

Brighton also had a couple of decent chances before trailing by two, with Jamie Murphy nodding a Solly March cross over the bar when unmarked in the box, while a Steve Sidwell cross found an unmarked Uwe Hunemeier but his header was saved buy a perfectly positioned John Ruddy.

City fans gave Stockdale an ironic cheer and round of applause when he took up his position for the second half, with the Brighton keeper on a unique hat-trick.

It was City who had to do most of the defending again, with Howson clearing off the line, twice in quick succession, to deny Glenn Murray.

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The win moves Norwich up to 8th in the table (Getty)

Hughton tried to add more pressure and made a double substation with Tamer Hemed and Dale Stephens going in in place of Norwood and an unusually quiet Knockaert.

It’s not the first time Brighton have been undone by own goals, back in February 2012, Liverpool beat them 6-1 at Anfield with help from two own goals by Liam Bridcutt and one from Lewis Dunk, who was also centre half tonight.

It was a small revenge for Norwich who were hammered 5-0 in the reverse fixture at the Amex, although that was under previous manager Alex Neil.

The win also marked Norwich skipper Russell Martin’s 300th appearance for City, a club where he has won three promotions.

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