|Venue: The Den
|Lopez pen 39|
A CONTROVERSIAL penalty decision proved the difference between Millwall and Brighton on another frustrating afternoon at The Den.
Manchester United loanee Jesse Lingard threw himself to the ground after minimal contact from Danny Shittu and David Lopez converted from the spot five minutes before half time.
The Lions controlled the remainder of the game but struggled to create clear-cut chances, with Jermaine Easter's shot, which hit the bar, the closest they came to earning a point.
Steve Morison, Scott McDonald and DJ Campbell were dropped from the side that started against Barnsley, with Simeon Jackson, Owen Garvan and Jermaine Easter replacing them.
Brighton dominated the opening ten minutes but Ed Upson nearly gave Millwall the lead when his clever free kick dropped onto the roof of the net, with Tomasz Kuszczak beaten.
Kuszczak held onto Shaun Williams' set piece in the 9th minute before former Charlton midfielder Dale Stephens drilled wide from 25 yards for the visitors.
Debutant Garvan created an opening for Easter by flicking on Martyn Woolford's pass but the striker's shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of a defender.
Leonardo Ulloa should have broken the deadlock when he met Andrea Orlandi's inch-perfect cross with a firm header, but David Forde smothered the ball just in front of the goal line.
Upson, who was the Lions' standout player in the first half, then forced Kuszczak into a save with a shot from long range.
But after referee Geoff Eltringham penalised Shittu's challenge on Lingard, Lopez stepped up to score from 12 yards, sending Forde the wrong way.
And Ryan Fredericks made a vital block seconds before the whistle to prevent Lingard from poking in Ulloa's cross for what would have been a killer second goal.
Millwall carved out an opening immediately after the restart when Garvan's free kick found Shittu, but the captain headed straight into Kuszczak's arms.
Easter nearly equalised when the ball squirmed through to him inside the six yard box but his shot on the turn smacked the underside of the bar.
Manager Ian Holloway brought on McDonald and Morison in a bid to liven up his side's attacking play, but the former blazed over on the hour mark.
The Lions were on top for long spells in the second half but struggled to break down the Brighton defence, who sat deeper and deeper as the minutes ticked by.
Williams teed up McDonald for a 20-yard drive 15 minutes from time but the Australian's miscued effort summed up the host's fortunes in front of goal.
Garvan blasted inches over the bar in the dying stages as the Seagulls held on.