Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray thinks it is too early to consider the promotion credentials of his club, despite moving to within two points of the top sides following a win over Brighton.
The only goal of an ill-tempered game arrived midway through the first half, when Seagulls goalkeeper Casper Ankergren spilled an innocuous cross from Joe Bennett and Scott McDonald pounced to convert from close range at the second attempt.
Although they failed to display their best form in the final third, Boro were good value for their win on a day when leaders Southampton were held by Blackpool and second-placed West Ham were thumped 3-0 at Reading.
Yet a cautious Mowbray said: "I don't get too concerned about other teams at the moment. I genuinely feel that at this stage of the season we are still just trying to accumulate points, to position ourselves for when the end of the season comes.
"The last dozen or so games; you need to be in there with a shout and the only way to be in the mix is to win games along the way.
"Southampton and West Ham, 10 days ago everybody said it was done and they were running away with the league, yet they have lost a game or two and it closes up again.
"I'm pretty sure their quality will show as the season unfolds. We have to try and stay in the mix with them and results like today will help our chance of doing that."
Asked if his team should have scored more than once, Mowbray responded: "We sit here and say that quite often. I think it just shows the tightness of the league. It's a very tight, competitive division.
"Most weeks it's tight for us. It's pretty typical of us to put our fans through torture in the last five or 10 minutes.
"But I think we played against a good side today, who spread out and play, expand the pitch and ask questions of you. We're delighted to take the points."
Mowbray was unable to confirm the extent or nature of the injury that saw top scorer Marvin Emnes limp off after the interval.
"We'll wait and see," he said. "Let's see how it settles down and hopefully it will be better news on Monday.
"If Marvin is injured we have to get on with it. It's a long hard winter for every team in this league, so we will have injuries. We will cope hopefully."
Brighton manager Gus Poyet was not too downbeat, insisting his side are heading in the right direction.
He told the club's official website: "People might pay a lot of attention to stats, because they might have had more shots, but we played better than we had done in the last few weeks.
"We looked like we were pushing for a result. We had to start taking risks at the end and the game became crazy but I'm pleased with the performance because we gave everything and tried our best.
"The difference was the one goal, and that was a mistake, but that's football. The action was the difference between the two teams but we cannot talk about that because these things happen.
"Middlesbrough are a team that show good consistency in this division because they have got a lot of experience from being in the Premier League and for being in the Championship for a long time.
"We were away from home but there was not much difference between the two teams which is great for the future of this football club."