Brighton warmed up for their mouth-watering FA Cup tie against Aresenal with a fine 3-2 victory against highflying Ipswich at the Amex on Wednesday night.
Two goals from Joao Teixeira helped give the Seagulls only their third home win of the season and their first at the Amex Stadium under manager Chris Hughton.
Ipswich were generally not at their best as they slipped to their first defeat in their last eight away games.
Brighton, looking to improve on one of the bleakest home records in the country, enjoyed early possession and Spanish defender Inigo Calderon had a volley blocked on the edge of the area before Daryl Murphy went close for Ipswich.
Town’s leading scorer saw a deflected left-foot shot fly wide after Joe Bennett gave the ball away.
Seagulls striker Chris O’Grady had a dangerous ball into the six-yard box cleared before Albion keeper David Stockdale showed alertness in claiming a testing cross from skipper Luke Chambers.
Town forward Noel Hunt was in an offside position when his goal-bound header from a Jay Tabb cross was well saved by Stockdale.
The Seagulls broke the deadlock in superb style in the 19th minute when Chambers allowed Sam Baldock to come inside and the former Bristol city striker bent a stunning right-foot into the far corner.
Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski saved a low shot from Teixeira before the visitors hit back to equalise through Murphy on 22 minutes.
Murphy got across skipper Gordon Greer at the near post to glide in his 18th goal of the season from a cross by Hunt.
Hunt later came to Ipswich’s rescue by clearing a header from Rohan Ince off the line following a corner by Danny Holla.
Brighton threatened again when recalled defender Aaron Hughes stole in at the back post and his header was tipped over by Bialkowski.
The Seagulls regained the lead through Portuguese midfielder Teixeira seven minutes before the break.
Teixeira, on loan from Liverpool, scored with a shot which took a deflection after he was allowed to run through the Ipswich defence too easily.
Teixeira was on target again in stoppage time to drill a low shot passed Bialkowski after fine link-up play from Baldock and O’Grady.
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy shock up his front line by introducing new signing Freddie Sears for Paul Anderson shortly after the break.
But Brighton should have gone further ahead when, following a run by Teixeira, Baldock shot straight at Bialkowski with the goal at his mercy.
Ipswich reduced the deficit 12 minutes from time through Sears, who latched on to a pass by Kevin Bru to slip the ball under Stockdale.
Murphy later went close by putting a left-foot shot wide following a weaving run.
Hughton said the win was a “nice way” in which to prepare for Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Arsenal.
The former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss said: “It is a nice way to take us into Sunday. Up to now, I hadn’t even thought about Sunday’s game.
“It will certainly be a good feeling to go into the tie on the back of a good win and a good performance.”
Brighton had only previously won two home games this season, and Hughton added: “Of course I am most delighted with the three points.
“I know Mick McCarthy well and his assistant Terry Connor but the most important thing was the three points.”
Hughton was full of praise for Baldock and two-goal midfielder Teixeira, who is on loan from Liverpool.
He said: “Fair play to Sam, he’s doing a job for the team and he’s got high energy.
“Joao scored two superb goals and his work-rate was immense. You needed to get him on the ball with Ipswich playing a hard-pressing game.
“He is a flexible enough player coming in from wide areas and he is still young. He has been playing in a team that has been up and down this season but this will do him the world of good.”
Albion: Stockdale, Calderon, Greer, Hughes, Bennett, Holla, Ince, Bruno, J Teixeira (March 85), Baldock, O’Grady (Best 76).
Subs: Colunga, Chicksen, McCourt, Rea
Ipswich: Bialkowski, Mings, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Skuse, Murphy, Anderson (Sears 50), Hunt (Bishop 64), Bru, Tabb (S Hunt 73).