Ashley Barnes struck 10 minutes from time to put Bristol City to the sword and continue league leaders Brighton's fine start to life in the Championship.
For 80 minutes, the visitors were frustrated by an inspired David James.
City's former England keeper pulled off a string of saves, the best of them a stunning double stop to deny Craig Noone and Craig Mackail-Smith.
Barnes ended James's resistance, though, following up Mackail-Smith's parried shot to drill in the winner.
The win maintains Brighton's fantastic start to the season following their promotion from League One and was secured without new signing Vicente Rodriguez, who did not even feature on the bench.
Not that the visitors missed him, despite a sluggish start that saw Marvin Elliott and Neil Kilkenny go close for the hosts.
Mackail-Smith and Barnes were a constant thorn in the side of Bristol City, and the former Peterborough striker forced James's first save of the afternoon with a long-ranger on 34 minutes.
It was a far less conventional save from James on the hour, though, when he parried Noone's shot, before spreading himself to deny Mackail-Smith on the follow up from point-blank range.
James then tipped an effort from Gary Dicker over the top, but the former Liverpool man was finally beaten 10 minutes from time when his defence failed to deal with a corner.
Inigo Calderon headed the ball back into a crowded goalmouth and although James saved Mackail-Smith's initial shot, the veteran was helpless to prevent Barnes smashing the rebound high into the net.
Brighton were still grateful to a smart save from Kapser Ankergren in the closing minutes from Brett Pitman.
But they held out for a fifth win from their first six games, a run of form in marked contrast to the Robins who lie 20th with five points.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 10 September 2011
Bristol City 46%
Attempts on target
Bristol City 9
Attempts off target
Bristol City 6
Bristol City 8
Bristol City 11
90:00+3:30 The referee blows his whistle to end the game.
90:00+3:08 Corner taken by Neil Kilkenny, Ashley Barnes manages to make a clearance.
90:00+2:56 Brett Pitman takes a shot. Casper Ankergren makes a save.
90:00+1:23 Albert Adomah gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kazenga LuaLua. Free kick taken by Casper Ankergren.
90:00+1:07 Centre by Ryan McGivern, clearance by Casper Ankergren.
89:13 Albert Adomah produces a cross, clearance by Lewis Dunk.
88:14 James Wilson concedes a free kick for a foul on Kazenga LuaLua. Gary Dicker takes the direct free kick.
87:15 The ball is crossed by Kazenga LuaLua, Close range header by Craig Mackail-Smith misses to the right of the goal.
86:35 Substitution Martyn Woolford is brought on as a substitute for Jordan Spence.
85:18 Will Buckley takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Albert Adomah makes a clearance.
82:30 The ball is delivered by Craig Mackail-Smith, Shot from inside the area by Kazenga LuaLua clears the bar.
82:02 Brett Pitman produces a cross.
81:26 Substitution Brett Pitman is brought on as a substitute for Cole Skuse.
79:44 GOAL - Ashley Barnes Ashley Barnes finds the net with a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Bristol City 0-1 Brighton.
: Bristol City 0 - 1 Brighton
79:18 Will Buckley takes the outswinging corner,
78:59 Gary Dicker takes a shot. David James makes a save.
75:54 Inswinging corner taken by Inigo Calderon from the left by-line, Cole Skuse makes a clearance.
75:48 The ball is crossed by Will Buckley, clearance made by Jordan Spence.
74:40 Ryan McGivern delivers the ball, Close range headed effort by Marvin Elliott goes wide of the left-hand post.
73:11 Shot by Kazenga LuaLua from outside the box goes over the target.
71:54 Substitution Ryan Harley leaves the field to be replaced by Will Buckley.
71:54 Substitution Craig Noone goes off and Kazenga LuaLua comes on.
71:24 Corner taken by Neil Kilkenny, clearance made by Ashley Barnes.
70:48 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Neil Kilkenny from the right by-line, Effort on goal by Marvin Elliott from 18 yards.
Lewis Dunk makes a clearance.
70:42 The ball is swung over by Nicky Maynard, clearance made by Marcos Painter.
68:55 Ashley Barnes takes a shot. David James makes a save.
67:31 Neil Kilkenny takes the outswinging corner, save made by Casper Ankergren.
67:19 Albert Adomah takes a shot. Blocked by Marcos Painter.
64:52 Jordan Spence produces a right-footed shot from 35 yards and missed to the left of the goal.
64:24 Unfair challenge on Ryan McGivern by Liam Bridcutt results in a free kick. Ryan McGivern takes the direct free kick.
63:14 Ashley Barnes manages to make a clearance.
63:14 Substitution Jon Stead joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
63:14 Neil Kilkenny takes the outswinging corner,
63:05 The ball is swung over by Albert Adomah, blocked by Marcos Painter.
59:54 Shot from just outside the box by Craig Noone goes over the target.
59:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lewin Nyatanga on Ashley Barnes. Liam Bridcutt restarts play with the free kick.
57:15 Craig Mackail-Smith takes a shot. Save by David James.
56:56 Ryan Harley takes a shot. Save by David James.
54:45 Ashley Barnes concedes a free kick for a foul on Neil Kilkenny. David James takes the free kick.
52:03 Jamal Campbell-Ryce takes a shot. Save by Casper Ankergren.
51:14 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Craig Noone, Cole Skuse makes a clearance.
49:55 Foul by Cole Skuse on Gary Dicker, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Gordon Greer.
49:04 Nicky Maynard takes a shot. Lewis Dunk gets a block in.
47:42 Effort on goal by Jamal Campbell-Ryce from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.
46:26 Corner taken left-footed by Craig Noone to the near post, Jordan Spence makes a clearance.
46:15 The ball is crossed by Craig Noone, Ryan McGivern makes a clearance.
45:29 Craig Noone fouled by Ryan McGivern, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Inigo Calderon.
45:01 The referee starts the second half.
45:00+1:26 The whistle is blown to end the first half.
45:00+0:50 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Ryan Harley from the right by-line.
45:00+0:18 Short corner worked by Neil Kilkenny.
45:00+0:06 A cross is delivered by Ryan McGivern, Marcos Painter manages to make a clearance.
42:55 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ashley Barnes by Jordan Spence. Marcos Painter restarts play with the free kick.
41:58 Nicky Maynard takes a shot.
40:50 Jamal Campbell-Ryce fouled by Ryan Harley, the ref awards a free kick. Neil Kilkenny restarts play with the free kick.
40:27 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Neil Kilkenny from the left by-line, clearance by Craig Mackail-Smith.
40:07 Jamal Campbell-Ryce takes a shot. Casper Ankergren makes a save.
39:34 Effort on goal by Craig Noone from outside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
36:44 Centre by Jordan Spence, Inigo Calderon manages to make a clearance.
34:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Ryan McGivern on Craig Noone. Liam Bridcutt takes the free kick.
33:40 Craig Mackail-Smith takes a shot. Save by David James.
32:10 Albert Adomah fouled by Liam Bridcutt, the ref awards a free kick. Jordan Spence takes the free kick.
31:06 Ryan Harley concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicky Maynard. Neil Kilkenny restarts play with the free kick.
28:05 Corner taken by Ryan Harley from the right by-line to the near post, Jordan Spence manages to make a clearance.
27:50 Craig Mackail-Smith takes a shot. Lewin Nyatanga gets a block in.
25:39 Effort on goal by Ashley Barnes from a long way out goes over the bar.
21:38 Free kick awarded for a foul by Marvin Elliott on Ashley Barnes. Ryan Harley has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.
20:49 Booking Booking for James Wilson.
20:03 Free kick awarded for a foul by James Wilson on Craig Noone. Lewis Dunk restarts play with the free kick.
19:26 Marvin Elliott fouled by Ryan Harley, the ref awards a free kick. David James takes the indirect free kick.
17:58 Nicky Maynard takes a shot. Blocked by Lewis Dunk.
17:24 Cole Skuse produces a cross, clearance made by Gordon Greer.
14:13 Marcos Painter sends in a cross, clearance by Lewin Nyatanga.
11:56 Nicky Maynard takes a shot. Blocked by Lewis Dunk.
8:03 Long range effort by Neil Kilkenny goes wide right of the target.
7:01 Gordon Greer gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicky Maynard. Neil Kilkenny takes the free kick.
5:05 Outswinging corner taken by Neil Kilkenny from the right by-line, Marvin Elliott takes a shot. Save by Casper Ankergren.
4:13 Ryan McGivern challenges Liam Bridcutt unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Gordon Greer.
3:33 Ryan McGivern challenges Ashley Barnes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Inigo Calderon.
3:01 Jamal Campbell-Ryce has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the target.
1:29 Lewin Nyatanga fouled by Ashley Barnes, the ref awards a free kick. Lewin Nyatanga takes the indirect free kick.
0:00 The game gets underway.
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