Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray believes his men will need to win “two or three” of their remaining six games to cement a play-off place.
Boro could only draw 1-1 at Brighton after Marvin Emnes’ flicked first half header was cancelled out by Inigo Calderon’s second-half header.
Boro have drawn their last four matches and have not won in six.
Mowbray admitted: “We’ve drawn four in a row now and it’s a very tight league. With six games to go, we’ll have to win two or three of them to cement a place in the play-offs.”
Mowbray appointed midfielder Barry Robson as new skipper following injuries to defender Matthew Bates.
And Robson spoilt an otherwise outstanding performance by failing to stay tight on Calderon as Albion equalised late on.
Mowbray said: “Robson is annoyed at losing his man at the far post and it was that which cost us the goal.
“But credit to Brighton. Their psychology can only benefit football. Brighton play in a similar way to how Swansea played in the Championship last season.
“We were a bit stretched defensively due to injuries, but you wouldn’t have thought so.”
Brighton and Boro were tentative in the early exchanges.
Left-back Joe Mattock ventured forward, latching on to Sam Vokes’ diagonal pass before hitting a venomous strike which was parried away by Jason Steele.
At the other end, Barry Robson’s powerful free-kick flew narrowly over Peter Brezovan’s crossbar.
Will Buckley came back into the fold and he conjured up a great chance, fizzing a corner into the near post which Adam El-Abd touched against a post.
Emnes had Boro’s first real chance in the second period, shifting the ball on to his left foot before driving just wide.
And Middlesbrough’s attacking endeavour was rewarded when they snatched the opening goal in the 61st minute.
Robson’s inswinging corner was flicked on by Emnes at the near post with Brezovan, who had been impressive up until that point, caught out of position as the ball flew in.
Boro nearly doubled their advantage when Jutkiewicz had a shot come back off a post.
However, it was Brighton who got a leveller 17 minutes from time as Calderon nodded in Lua Lua’s corner at the back post.
Both sides surged forward in search of a winner, but neither side could find a way past the busy goalkeepers.
Brighton: Brezovan, Mattock, Greer, El-Abd, Navarro, Barnes (Mackail-Smith 68), Calderon, Vicente, Vokes, Bridcutt, Buckley (LuaLua 68). Subs Not Used: Ankergren, Dicker, Vincelot. Booked: Bridcutt, LuaLua. Goals: Calderon 73.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Bennett, McManus, Emnes (McDonald 69), Bailey, Hines, Robson, Arca, Jutkiewicz (Ogbeche 84), Smallwood. Subs Not Used: Thomson, Hammill, McMahon. Booked: Bailey, Smallwood, Arca, Bennett. Goals: Emnes 61.
Att: 20, 553 Ref: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).