Peter Taylor described this rather drab deadlock as a "hard earned and good point" for Albion.

A few hours later it looked even better as results filtered through from around the country.

Only goal difference is dividing the third-placed Seagulls from the top of the table once more after leaders Brentford suffered a surprise defeat at Cambridge United which lifted them off the bottom.

Stoke needed a last-gasp penalty equaliser at Tranmere to keep their noses in front of Taylor's team and Brian Horton did his old club a favour by guiding Port Vale to victory over Danny Wilson's Bristol City.

In fact none of the top nine won, although Wycombe were denied that opportunity by an unfit pitch at Chesterfield, so the point eked out by Albion served a profitable purpose.

The two hottest shots in the Second Division were on parade: in the blue corner Rangers' Andy Thomson with 17 league goals and in the red corner Bobby Zamora with 15 in the league and 19 in total.

Neither could deliver a Boxing Day knockout, which was due to two indomitable partnerships at the heart of the respective defences.

Danny Cullip was a towering presence yet again and he almost won the match for Albion with 15 minutes left.

His angled header from a Paul Watson corner was cleared off the line by substitute Karl Connolly, stationed on the far post, to the frustration of the 3,000 visiting fans packed behind him.

The ever-dependable Simon Morgan was not far behind Cullip. Their shackling of Thomson and Kevin Gallen, a quality duo at this level, laid the foundations for a club record-equalling ninth game unbeaten away from home in the league.

The only time either of Rangers' attacking spearheads threatened to score was in the 73rd minute when Gavin Peacock's shot from outside the box landed at Thomson's feet. He fired somewhat tamely straight at Simon Royce on the turn from 12 yards.

Albion's new keeper, on loan from Leicester for a month to cover for the injured Michel Kuipers, was well protected on his debut, although he made one important stop in both halves.

In the 37th minute Danny Murphy's corner to the far post was met by man-mountain Danny Shittu with a downward header which Royce kept out one-handed before Richard Carpenter cleared into touch.

Midway through the second half Doudou, the most creative player on view, turned past Paul Rogers to strike a shot from 20 yards which Royce deflected for a corner.

Royce said: "The first one came through a crowd of players, so I was just trying to get something on it and the lads managed to clear it after I'd saved it.

"The second one was pretty comfortable really, low down to the left. Apart from that it was just a couple of crosses."

Royce was among three changes made by Taylor to the side which tossed away victory against Chesterfield at Withdean last Friday.

Rogers, red carded for two bookable offences within 11 minutes of his introduction against the Spireites, was preferred to Paul Brooker and he responded with a steady contribution.

Daniel Webb, awarded his debut up front in preference to Lee Steele, did well until Steele replaced him after 64 minutes.

The teenage target man, watched by dad David, does most of his best work with his back to goal.

He retained possession more often than not and was not afraid of physical confrontation, even when the tussle was unequal stature wise with the brutally built Shittu.

The on-loan Charlton stopper and former Albion reserve Steve Palmer restricted Zamora to arguably his least effective match for the Seagulls.

The one chance Zamora had to score for his 11th game in succession, when Webb slipped him through on 57 minutes, was foiled by Fraser Digby's right boot. It would not have counted in any case, courtsey of an offside flag from the linesman.

A narrow 4-4-2 when Albion were defending became what could have been a more productive 3-5-2 when advancing, with the width provided by Robbie Pethick and Paul Watson.

The forrays forward were, however, subdued by a lack of tempo and inaccurate passing on an admittedly tricky playing surface, with frost and an unreliable roll in places.

Watson, filling in at leftback again with Kerry Mayo still sidelined, lacked his customary reliability in picking out a colleague, but he came closest of all to breaking the stalemate.

His free-kick early in the second half, earned by Webb's endeavour and swung in left-footed from deep on the right flank, eluded Digby and struck the crossbar.

Gary Hart's continuing absence with a dead leg deprived the Seagulls of natural width but QPR-crazy Charlie Oatway, retaining the captaincy despite Rogers' recall, did an admirable job on the right side of midfield.

Oatway, watched by family and friends, had a bit too much know-how for youngster Danny Murphy, making his first home start for Rangers.

Taylor said: "It was a very hard match and after the disappointment of last Friday, when we had three points in the bag and gave them away, it was important we got something out of it.

"The performance was not our best. We were good defensively, but on the ball we didn't attack quickly enough or with enough quality."

It wasn't pretty but it was pretty effective and if any Albion fan left Loftus Road not entirely satisfied they really ought to consider that these clubs were two divisions apart last season.