PETER CROUCH created another piece of Premier League history as he made his 143rd substitute’s appearance to help Stoke to a useful point.
The former England centre-forward has already scored more top-flight headers than any other player and now has another record for his collection.
Yet if Crouch will take a permanent reminder of his special moment back to the Potteries, referee Lee Mason will want to forget his night’s work as soon as possible.
What a pity they didn’t have a video assistant to help out the short-sighted official who missed Ryan Shawcross’ blatant first-half trip on Brighton striker Glenn Murray.
For while Mark Hughes’ team were well worth their point from an unexpectedly entertaining match, there can be no question that the Seagulls were robbed of the victory which would have taken them back to eighth place in the table.
All of the early running came from the visitors, who made their attacking intentions clear from the sixth minute when Mame Diouf’s shot was deflected over by Gaetan Bong.
Shawcross’ powerful back-post header required a sharp save from Matt Ryan before Davy Propper’s slip gave Xherdan Shaqiri another shooting opportunity which Lewis Dunk did well to charge down.
A second Shawcross header was more comfortably dealt with by Ryan as Stoke looked to capitalise on their early dominance.
Yet in their rush to get forward they left the back door wide open and should have paid the price when Propper’s 19th minute through ball gave Jose Izquierdo a clear run on goal.
But with team-mates screaming for a square pass, the Colombian winger went for glory and curled his shot wide of the far post.
RYAN SHAWCROSS’ foul on Glenn Murray was a clear penalty.
It’s one of the easiest calls a referee will ever get to make.
Ref Lee Mason was in a great position to spot it but switched off and got it horribly wrong. Then he’s looking at his assistant — I have no idea why!
It was a damn sight closer than Izquierdo’s next effort, which went for a throw-in to the amusement of the Stoke fans.
And those travelling supporters had even more to laugh about when their team seized a 27th minute with a goal of real quality.
Shaqiri’s beautiful pass over the top caught the back-pedalling Brighton defence appealing in vain for offside as Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting brought the ball out of the sky with an exquisite first touch before sliding his shot into the bottom corner.
It was the Cameroon striker’s first goal since his double against Manchester United in September and no more than Stoke deserved for their positive approach.
But they got away with murder when Murray was sent flying by Shawcross’ mistimed 39th minute challenge.
It was as clear a penalty as you will see all season yet ref Lee Mason and his assistant both failed to spot the blindingly obvious.
Even the mild-mannered Chris Hughton was left fuming by the decision to award a free-kick to Stoke as he delivered an earful to embarrassed fourth official Kevin Friend.
Spurred on by the burning sense of injustice, Brighton forced their way back into the game when Propper’s surging 44th minute run rook him past four Stoke defenders before his low cross was swept inside the near post by Pascal Gross.
But they could not maintain parity for more than a couple of minutes before Darren Fletcher’s corner in first-half stoppage time was nodded across goal by Choupo-Moting for Kurt Zouma to power home.
And Stoke should have extended their lead five minutes after the break when Ramadan Sobhi pounced on another sloppy pass by Propper but was thwarted by Ryan’s charge from his line.
Brighton, though, refused to chuck in the towel and levelled again on the hour.
Zouma’s failure to clear Dale Stephens’ cross allowed Murray to tee up Izquierdo with a cunningly disguised reverse pass.
And though the winger’s attempted pull-back was blocked by Kevin Wimmer, there was no stopping his follow-up effort as he lashed his shot inside the far post.