Albion boss Chris Hughton praised the character of his side after their promotion hopes ended last night.
The Seagulls drew 1-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday to lose 3-1 on aggregate in the Championship semi-finals.
Brighton had 17 efforts at goal in the first half and led through Lewis Dunk’s 20th-minute goal, only for Wednesday to level through Ross Wallace’s cross when Albion felt Dunk was fouled by Gary Hooper.
Hughton felt a few key decisions went against his side in the closing weeks of the season and said: “Key decisions have gone against us. The Dale Stephens one (at Middlesbrough), I still feel that wasn’t a red card. There’s nothing that I’ve seen or heard that’s made me change my mind on that one.
“And I thought it was a foul on Dunk for the goal tonight, so they’re two incidents that have gone against us.
“As regards Dunky’s sending-off a few games ago, no complaints with that and the injuries that we picked up on Friday night, they’re things that are out of control and you can’t do too much about.
“Things have certainly gone against us but right through that, the players have showed great character to go through 30-plus minutes at Sheffield with ten men and them throwing everything at us. Then for us to start the game as we did today shows massive character from the players.”
Albion lost just five league games all season and not since Manchester United in 1905 have a team lost so few games and not been promoted.
Hughton said: “We got ourselves into a position where we were so close to automatic promotion and half-an-hour at Middlesbrough might see us do that. Then to come through this one and come so close, at the moment it’s a distraught changing room but the fact it hurts so much is because they put so much into it.
“We’ve been there all season, what they’ve got to do is use this feeling to go again next season.
“It is tough to go so close. We know the points tally we got would have seen us get automatic promotion seven of the last ten years.
“There are a lot of tough stats out there but the facts are what they are. There are three teams that go up and we’ve got to make sure we work as hard as we can to be one of the three teams that goes up next season.”
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