Horgan made his Preston debut as a late substitute in the FA Cup third round defeat to Arsenal eight days ago and his impressive 10 minute cameo persuaded manager Simon Grayson to throw the 24-year-old in from the start against a team that began the weekend leading the Championship.
And Horgan didn’t let Grayson down, delivering a stellar display in front of the watching Roy Keane before being replaced in stoppage time.
“To play the full 90 minutes is brilliant, but to also beat top of the table opposition, comprehensively as well is great,” Horgan said.
The one source of frustration was that a curling effort in the second half flashed just wide but Horgan was keen to keep the focus on the big picture.
“That would have been brilliant to score,” Horgan said of his chance.
“But ultimately it’s a great win for us and a clean sheet; it propels us up the table and puts us in a stronger position to push for a play-off place.”
Paying tribute to Horgan, Grayson said: “I was very impressed with Daryl. I had no hesitation putting him into the team given how he has trained and how he played last week.”
Defeat ended Brighton’s 17-game unbeaten run and saw them surrender top spot but Hughton wasn’t too downbeat in the aftermath.
He said: “I can’t complain about the result. We were beaten by the better side. We’re not going to win all our games.”
Brighton’s defeat gave Newcastle the chance to go top and Daryl Murphy ensured they seized the opportunity by scoring in the 2-1 win at Brentford.
Seven days after Murphy grabbed his first Newcastle goal in the FA Cup draw with Birmingham, he came off the bench for the injured Dwight Gayle to head a late winner.
With Gayle facing a period on the sidelines, Murphy could be set for an extended spell in the side and Magpies boss Rafa Benitez hailed the veteran striker’s professionalism.
Benitez said: “He’s been training really well. For somebody who has so much experience at 33 in this division, he was always a very good example for the others. He was very professional. Everybody praised him last week because of the way he scored the goal and the way he worked. We watch him in training every day and his attitude has been perfect. I am really pleased for him.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, Anthony Pilkington scored twice – including a fine late winner – as Cardiff City won 3-2 at Bristol City, Joe Mason scored the winner as Wolves beat Aston Villa 1-0 while Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich were 3-2 victors at home to Blackburn.
In League One, Cian Bolger scored as Fleetwood Town beat Bristol Rovers 3-1 while Simon Cox scored a late winner as Southend won 2-1 against a Rochdale side that finished the game with 10 men after the first-half dismissal of Keith Keane for a professional foul.
In League Two, James Collins scored the winner as Crawley beat Hartlepool 1-0; Keith Dawson converted a penalty as Yeovil Town drew 1-1 with Wycombe while Alan Sheehan was sent off in Luton’s 2-1 win at Crewe
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