Chris Hughton’s men were second best away to the Canaries, but conceded twice in the first half after the ball cannoned against the woodwork and rebounded against the goalkeeper
BRIGHTON’S Championship title party was put on hold thanks to a bizarre Dave Ja Vu.
Keeper David Stockdale netted two almost identical own goals in one of the strangest happenings witnessed on a football pitch.
Both came when Alex Pritchard – who snubbed a switch to the Seagulls to join Norwich at the 11th hour in August – hit the woodwork only for the ball to rebound back in off poor Stockdale.
The spooky repetition meant Albion were denied the chance to win the league at boss Chris Hughton’s old stamping ground, Carrow Road.
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The likelihood is Albion, who are seven points clear but have played a game more than second-placed Newcastle, will still go on to clinch the trophy.
In fact if the Toon lose to Preston on Monday night, then that will be that.
But the ultra-rare deja vu added an unexpected twist to what was already an unforgettable campaign for Brighton fans.
The travelling support, who watched their side win promotion with victory over Wigan on Saturday, enjoyed themselves with chants of ‘We’re Premier League’ before kick-off.
The raucous singing was silenced though as a respectful minute’s applause was carried out in memory of the late Ugo Ehiogu prior to kick-off.
Norwich almost broke the deadlock with five minutes on the clock but Nelson Oliveira could only slide Jonny Howson’s centre across the six-yard box wide of the far post.
Brighton fans began taunting Pritchard with chants of ‘There’s only one greedy b*****d” and “What a waste of money”.
But the abuse backfired as on 18 minutes, Pritchard let fly from just outside the area with a fizzing drive that crashed down off the bar and in off Stockdale’s back.
Canaries fans hit back by singing ‘Premier League, you’re having a laugh’ as Steven Naismith headed Pritchard’s free-kick over.
John Ruddy had to be alert to parry away Uwe Huenemeier’s flicked header before Jamie Murphy was harshly denied a penalty on 39 minutes when Graham Dorrans appeared to trip him in the box.
It was a controversial call made by ref Tim Robinson and one Hughton – who managed Norwich between 2012-14 – would rue as 38 seconds later, his side were two down.
Again it came from a Pritchard blast from 20 yards, only this time the ex-Spurs man’s effort hit the post and rebounded off the back of the unwitting Stockdale’s head.
Amazingly, Norwich had failed to register a shot on target at that point – despite their two-goal lead!
Stockdale had to endure a second half of cheeky chants such as ‘Stockdale’s on fire, your defence is terrified’.
One particularly taunt of ‘David Stockdale, he would have scored that’ even drew a smile out of the likeable stopper, after Glenn Murray’s header had been cleared off the line by Howson.
The defeat meant Hughton will not break the 100-point barrier like he did with Newcastle seven years ago.
Though he is likely to be as bothered about that statistic as he was by the home fans’ rendition of ‘boring, boring Hughton’ – to which he puts his hand to his mouth in a yawning gesture – provided the title is secured.
With one win required, that is more than likely to occur.
But as this match proved, stranger things have happened.