But half-time substitute Danny Welbeck got the crucial breakthrough after 57 minutes when a clearance from Ryan Bennett bounced back off the England striker and into the penalty area, where he rounded John Ruddy to slot home.
Having lost at home to Fulham on Boxing Day, the pressure now increases on Hughton's men for a positive result at Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.
He said: "It is certainly a game we didn't deserve to lose.
"We were excellent in the first half, but when you are having your best period, you have got to capitalise on that and we didn't.
"It was a fortunate goal for them - a double deflection - and when that falls to somebody of Welbeck's quality, then you are almost expecting him to score.
"That is the only difference between the two teams and over the 90 minutes we were the better side."