Albion chairman Dick Knight, adapting a well-worn football phrase, was "over Jupiter" when the green light was given for Falmer.

Ipswich manager Joe Royle reckoned "there's more atmosphere on Mars" than at Withdean.

Well big Joe, you are talking out of Uranus! If he thought Saturday was bad, I dread to think what he would have made of serene Withdean in matches past, before the Seagulls received the stadium decision they have longed for.

Granted, Albion's temporary home can never be turned into a cauldron of noise - it is too open and uncovered to trap the crowd's support.

But manager Mark McGhee is banking on the Falmer factor having a prolonged positive effect on the mood at home matches.

The extra seats, which should be in use for the first time for the return clash against Crystal Palace next month, will help.

Away fans, mind you, are in for a nasty surprise. If their view is poor now from the north-east corner, wait until they are moved behind the west goal, miles away from the pitch with a low line of sight.

At least there will then be spectators on all four sides of the ground and McGhee is confident that having Falmer on the not too distant horizon will also make a difference.

"We are doing our best to make Withdean the best we can," he said. "We've got to live with it but the idea that we have got a vision in sight now, an end to the tunnel, will help us.

"When there was no end we were in limbo but we are out of that now and heading for the promised land."

If Albion are to reach the promised land of the Premiership it is essential to be in the Championship still by season 2008-09, the target date for the stadium switch. Their home form will have to improve to achieve that goal.

A ninth draw in 16 outings brought them, in planet speak, back down to earth after Falmer Friday. They have taken only two points from a possible 15 at Withdean and won just once in 11 matches stretching back to the end of last season.

McGhee correctly claims it does not matter where the points come from as long as Albion have got enough by May to stay up.

Five points from an unbeaten three-match sequence away to Palace and Sheffield Wednesday and at home to Ipswich is a satisfying haul.

The trouble is Albion's Withdean woes place an intolerable burden on results on the road. It is asking a lot to maintain the exceptional away form so far for the duration of the campaign.

The first-half performance in front of the biggest Withdean crowd of the season deserved better than a repeat of the scoreline in the corresponding fixture five months ago, which ensured survival and sentenced Ipswich to more play-off misery.

As the table indicates, they are a pale imitation of the side they were then. Had the Seagulls capitalised on their blatant superiority in the opening 45 minutes they would surely have prevailed.

The quality of the goal from Dean Hammond which gave Albion the advantage on the quarter-hour fitted the occasion. Leon Knight launched a sweeping three-man counter-attack with a crossfield pass to the recalled Colin Kazim-Richards.

He looked up, saw Hammond making a strong run into the box goal side of his markers and delivered a pinpoint cross which the midfielder made the most of with a first time side-foot finish into the roof of the net.

With Seb Carole sparkling down the right and his compatriot Alexandre Frutos threatening to mark his full home debut with a goal from the left, Albion's failure to expand their lead proved costly.

The match turned on simultaneous substitutions by both sides in the 32nd minute. McGhee's change was forced upon him, Charlie Oatway leaving the field on a stretcher with a neck injury sustained in a challenge with Jimmy Juan which earned Carole's former Monaco colleague a caution.

Town's cultured captain Jim Magilton, omitted from the starting line-up by Royle, brought guile to their midfield in place of Matt Richards.

It was no reflection on the encouraging contribution made by Oatway's deputy Alexis Nicolas but the Seagulls were unsettled as Sam Parkin, unpopular with the Portman Road faithful, secured flattering parity for Ipswich with a glancing header from a cross by Fabian Wilnis. It was his fifth goal of the season, all of them scored away from home.

The second half was much more of an equal contest. Parkin and Knight were each denied by the crossbar, the former with another header, the latter with a fiercely struck effort from the edge of the Ipswich area.

Dean Bowditch missed a sitter for the visitors and Jake Robinson, on for the injured Paul McShane after losing his starting berth to Kazim-Richards, should have won it for Albion with seven minutes left. He shot tamely after controlling a delightful pass over the top of the Ipswich defence by the outstanding Carole.

"One of the reasons why Jake, Leon and Colin are still vying for their places is that none of them are consistently taking chances," McGhee said. "Jake gets in that position in training and never misses.

"He got in there and was lightweight. He's got to get better but we know he has got it in him and we will bring it out of him.

"It wasn't the victory I wanted but the performance was good enough. In the first half in particular I thought we played very well. We did enough to hope we could have got to 2-0. The quality of our play warranted that but if you dont take advantage you are in danger of not winning."

Albion (4-4-2): Henderson 7; Hart 7, McShane 7, Butters 7, Reid 6; Carole 9, Oatway 6, Hammond 8, Frutos 7; Kazim-Richards 7, Knight 8. Subs: Nicolas 6 for Oatway (injured 32), El-Abd for Frutos (withdrawn 61), Robinson for McShane (injured 75), Turienzo, Chaigneau.

Ipswich (4-4-2): Price; Sito, Naylor, De Vos, Wilnis; Proudlock, Juan, Currie, Richards; Parkin, Bowditch. Subs: Magilton for Richards (withdrawn 32), McDonald for Proudlock (withdrawn 54), McEveley for Currie (withdrawn 88), Peters, Supple.