Goals from substitutes Dale Stephens and Kazenga LuaLua helped Albion topple leaders Derby County 2-0 on a terrific night at the Amex.

The Seagulls survived heavy pressure from the visitors early in the second half to take the lead on 69 minutes through Stephens’ first goal since last April.

LuaLua added a second 13 minutes from time to make it three home wins on the trot for Albion and end an unwanted run of five successive defeats to Derby.

With Millwall losing 3-0 at Middlesbrough, Albion have now moved nine points clear of the relegation zone.

Boss Chris Hughton made two changes with Chris O’Grady replacing the hamstrung Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Holla coming in for the rested Rohan Ince.

Derby were still without 19-goal top scorer Chris Martin and his recent replacement, former Albion loanee Darren Bent, both with hamstring injuries.

It was the visitors who almost drew first blood on six minutes when Jeff Hendrick’s curler from a central position 20 yards out thumped against the face of the crossbar.

Albion responded with a decent chance of their own on 14 minutes as Lewis Dunk’s superb dinked pass released Sam Baldock whose shot from inside the area was beaten away by Lee Grant.

Derby’s pace and movement was stretching the Seagulls and they had another chance on the half-hour mark when Johnny Russell picked out the run of Tom Ince who slid the ball past the advancing David Stockdale but Dunk tidied up the danger in front of his own goal.

The hosts suffered a blow five minutes before the break when Baldock limped off injured, to be replaced by LuaLua.

Just before the interval Derby had another chance but Stockdale was equal to Ince’s shot, then in stoppage time the Albion keeper made a terrific save to tip over Richard Keogh’s header from an Ince corner.

Derby continued to put Albion under pressure early in the second half. Joe Bennett header clear from under his own crossbar after Ryan Shotton flicked on a corner, then Russell just failed to get on the end of a Jamie Ward cross.

Soon after a flying header from Dunk kept out Craig Bryson’s shot at the expense of a corner, then Ward’s angled drive was deflected behind.

It was relentless from the visitors in the opening stages of the second half and Stockdale made another fine save to tip over Hendrick’s 20-yard strike on 58 minutes.

Having survived all those chances Albion went ahead on with 21 minutes remaining. A long throw from Bruno caused problems, Stephens headed goalwards, Inigo Calderon held the ball up and Stephens followed in to slot home just three minutes after coming on.

Derby threw on former Albion loanee Jesse Lingard and almost immediately he spurned a great chance to level, firing Ince’s cross over the bar.

Albion made the visitors pay two minutes later as O’Grady played in LuaLua who fired across Grant into the far corner.

Albion: Stockdale; Bruno, Greer, Dunk, Bennett; Holla, Kayal (sub Ledesma 90); Calderon, Teixeira (sub Stephens 66), Baldock (sub LuaLua 40); O’Grady. Subs not used: Hughes, Halford, Best, Walton.

Derby: Grant; Shotton, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Bryson, Mascarell (sub Dawkins 76), Hendrick; Ince, Russell (sub Thomas 77), Ward (sub Lingard 71). Subs not used: Altenbosa, Warnock, Hughes, Roos.