ALEX Revell headed a 66th-minute winner as Albion defeated Northampton 2-1 in their League One clash at Withdean today.

Dean Hammond had given them a second-minute lead from the penalty spot but Andy Kirtk (23) levelled for the Cobblers.

It was not without cost. Hammond was stretchered off in the closing stages following a challenge with Northampton defender Chris Doig.

Jake Robinson made his first appearance of the season for Albion on the right wing at the expense of Tommy Fraser.

An ankle ligament injury sidelined last season's leading marksman from the first two matches at Crewe and Cardiff.

It was no surprise to see Robinson back in the side. The Seagulls carved out plenty of opportunities at Crewe but created little at Cardiff and the onus was on them to be more of an attacking threat on home soil.

Sam Rents deputised at left-back for Joel Lynch, who was injured in the first half of Tuesday's narrow Carling Cup exit in Wales.

Dean Wilkins promised the Withdean faithful improved entertainment and results at home this season and his team could not have wished for a better start.

Robinson made an immediate impact as they were awarded a penalty with just 52 seconds on the clock.

Robinson, closely marked by Danny Jackman, still managed to get in a low cross.

Alex Revell got a toe to the ball ahead of Chris Doig, who brought him down.

The Northampton centre half and his colleagues had no complaints as referee Mick Thorpe pointed straight to the point.

Dean Hammond celebrated his 100th League start for Albion by slotting the penalty into the roof of the net.

It was swift compensation for Hammond after giving away a penalty at Crewe for handball.

The early breakthrough should have filled Albion with confidence. Instead they seemed to go into their shell and it was Northampton who looked the more threatening side.

The visitors were back on terms midway through the first half, thanks to the in-form Andy Kirk.

The Northern Ireland international striker met a right wing cross from Jason Crowe with a firm header which beat Michel Kuipers at his near post.

It gave Kirk his third goal in as many games, having struck against both Swindon and Millwall.

Teams are often at their most vulnerable when they have just scored and Albion instantly had a chance to regain the lead.

Andrew Wing's cross found Hammond in acres of space inside the area but he headed wide from 12 yards.

Apart from the goals there was not much to get excited about in an untidy first half.

Robinson looked sharp and lively but both he and Dean Cox on the opposite flank were tucking in, so the Seagulls had a narrow look about them.

It needed a couple of smart saves from Kuipers to prevent them from falling behind before the break.

The Dutchman got a hand to Andrew Holt's low effort at the far post after Whing inexplicably froze defending a cross.

Moments from the interval an attempted clearance by Guy Butters midway inside his own half hit Poul Hubertz and rebounded kindly into the giant Danish striker's path.

He strode forward to strike a shot which the diving Kuipers again turned behind for a corner.

Wilkins made a tactical adjustment at the start of the second half, moving Cox into central midfield and shifting Robinson out to the left wing.

It made little discernible difference to the pattern of the contest after the break, Northampton continuing to look the more cohesive unit.

Tommy Elphick, fresh from signing a new two year contract, came to the rescue when he headed a dangerous cross from the overlapping Crowe over his own bar.

Northampton centre half Mark Hughes, unhappy with Elphick's role in a booking for Hubertz, stupidly ran 30 yards to remonstrate with the young Seagulls stopper and, as a result, was cautioned himself.

It proved to be a costly distraction for the visitors. With tempers flaring, they lost concentration at the back and, a minute later, Albion restored their advantage against the run of play.

Rents curled a free-kick into the box and Revell rose highest to gleefully head his first goal of the campaign.

It was just the fillip Albion required and another error by Doig nearly helped stretch their lead. His under-hit back-pass was intercepted by Nicky Forster, suffering from a lack of service on his home debut.

Forster evaded keeper Mark Bunn to set Revell up for a shot which Hughes cleared off the line.

Forster should have opened his account in the last minute when substitute Bas Savage, on in place of Robinson, set him up but he shot straight at Bunn.

An overdue success for the Seagulls was marred in two respects, the late injury to Hammond and an alarming attendance of 5,137.

The weather was unkind but it was still the lowest ever opening home gate at Withdean and worse than any crowd last season.

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