Yesterday was one of those away days that will live long in the memory. Sat right at the front of the stand, I got chatting to a gentleman who was fortunate enough to watch Johnny Haynes whilst he was still a schoolboy. It is fair to say he had seen plenty of football. He was pessimistic about Fulham’s chances, believing that Brighton had only improved after appointing Roberto de Zerbi to succeed Graham Potter, and they would comfortably have too much for the Whites. I thought he was a bit too gloomy, at least until the game kicked off.

Albion were a sight to see in the flesh. They swarmed all over Fulham high up the pitch from the outset but played at three times the tempo that Potter’s team had managed at the Cottage last year. The passing was precise but at pace and Marco Silva’s men looked like rabbits caught in the headlights. Fortunate not to be 2-0 down after Evan Ferguson fired a very presentable chance over the bar and Solly March curled one just wide, Fulham took about 25 minutes to mount their first move of note. The brilliant Bernd Leno, who has now kept three league clean sheets in a row, dashed off his line and implored everyone to calm down – but to little avail.

The same pattern continued after half time, although the game was a little more even. Andreas Pereira, who had a poor game in the number ten role, slammed a snapshot goalwards but the deflection made the save more routine for Robert Sanchez. Fulham didn’t have another shot until Manor Solomon streaked clear of the Brighton back line having been brilliantly been played in by another substitute, Carlos Vinicius. For the second week in succession, the Israeli winger kept his composure beautifully. His first touch was a thing of beauty, propelling the ball ten yards in front of him – which his second to find the far corner. The visitors had resisted wave after wave of Albion pressure and Alexis Mac Allister came close to equalising with a free kick that flew narrowly wide in the 97th minute.

The assignment at the AMEX Stadium was never going to allow for Fulham to play their easy-on-the eye stuff. This was a day for scrapping and showing character. Albion dominated possession but, although Bernd Leno did pull off a pair of superb saves to deny Ferguson and MacAllister – most of their efforts at goal went wide, with Lewis Dunk guilty of missing a free header at the back stick. It was pleasing in a way to see Fulham roll up their laughs and eek up a scarcely deserved victory. It shows the level of spirit within this special squad – and proves that the upwardly mobile Whites can win in more than one fashion.

Swashbuckling style was sacrificed for style here. I was surprised to be made aware of so much vitriol from the Brighton fanbase almost immediately after the final whistle, although given that a middle-aged Albion fan and his son offered out a group of Fulham fans as they alighted the train from Falmer at Lewes for the mere crime of wearing visiting colours – perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a galloping shock. Silva will have sniggered at any suggestion that his side are ‘anti-football’ and ‘cheats’. He was magnanimous enough in victory to recognise this was a robbery and Brighton fans should be familiar with those as Chris Hughton’s side made a habit of mugging us in the Jokanovic years (at the AMEX and the Cottage in quick succession one season).

Everyone always says that newly-promoted sides need to make their home ground a fortress. Fulham’s home record this term until Silva has been impressive, but what really secures safety or success is strong away form. With the narrow win on the south coast yesterday, Fulham have now equalled their highest number of wins on the road in a Premier League season (Chris Coleman’s 2003/04 side managed five victories in the whole game). Silva’s side is set up to be expansive but can sit in and frustrate where required, especially with the strong spine of the side.

It is worth remembering where both sides have come from. The last time Fulham did the double over the Seagulls in the Micky Adams derby both clubs were languishing in the third tier. The fact that Brighton and the Whites have serious chances of embarking upon a European tour is mindblowing. Fulham’s new found resolution will become a critical part of their arsenal in the weeks ahead – the outstanding form of Tim Ream and Issa Diop makes Bernd Leno’s job easier, whilst the centre backs are protected by Joao Palhinha.

We went from wondering if Fulham would hold on to praying for a poor reference in Darren England to blow for the final whistle. The scenes that greeted Solomon’s winner were reminiscent of when the on-loan midfielder Seko Fofana, now starring in Serie A – scored to pinch the points from Huddersfield in 2014. One more paean of praise needs to be penned for Silva, whose substitutions made the Whites more potent on in the closing stages. Carlos Vinicius beating two Brighton defenders to the ball and set Solomon away, with the rest being history.

As a purist, a love a backs-to-the-wall 1-0 win. That’s the stuff champions are made of – and they should all be very proud this morning. Quite unbelievably, a win over Wolves would take the Whites in the Champions’ League spots, but I am sure someone will wake me up from this exhilarating dream soon.