Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 2 BRIGHTON 2
Reading: J Swift (2), P McShane (59)
Brighton: J van den Berg (og 8), A Knockaert (46)
It took the Royals a mere two minutes to breach an Albion defence which had not conceded in their opening four fixtures of the season. Beerens won a free kick wide on the right and Swift whipped in an inviting cross which eluded everyone and curled inside the far post. It was just the start Reading needed following two successive away defeats last week. There may have been a few raised eyebrows when Jaap Stam opted to retain the same starting eleven form the previous two games, but his decision was vindicated with convincing performance against a strong Albion side. On the balance of play and chances created Reading could reasonably argue they deserved all three points.
The early lead was soon cancelled out as Albion stormed back and Van den Berg headed into his own net from an Albion corner in the eighth minute. There was a hint of some pushing but it was essentially a consequence poor defending. Van Berg somehow found himself facing his own goal having to clear a ball dropping in the six yards box which Al Habsi should really have claimed. The goal took the wind out their sails but Reading soon settled and began to dominate possession passing the ball around comfortably at the back and treading passes through midfield and getting at the Albion defence. Jaap Stam's influence was becoming increasingly apparent as his players looked comfortable in possession, picked out passes, and moved into spaces all over the pitch. Chances fell to Kermorgant who had one effort blocked, a low drive which skimmed wide from the edge of the box and a well-executed volley on the stroke of half time which also flew just past the post.
Within a minute of the re-start Reading found themselves a goal down. McShane switched off (as did the rest of the back four) and let his man get behind him to pull the ball back for Knockaert who found himself in acres of space to drive the ball low into the net past Al Habsi. The Royals were in no mood to roll over and re-established their grip on the game although now they had to contend with the threat of Albion counter attacks and some appalling refereeing. Kermorgant beat Stockdale with a well-timed header only to see his effort bounce back off the bar. Reading scored the equaliser they deserved just on the hour. McCleary, who is already looking a better player under Stam, cut back an excellent ball to McShane in the box. The quality of the pass enabled the Reading centre back to finish with a crisp first time strike. Reading looked to more likely side to win the game and were denied by a dubious decision when Gunter was brought down by a challenge which looked to just inside the box. Referee Jones gradually lost his grip on the game and made a string of really poor decisions, notably ignoring an ugly lunge on Williams and an elbow to Kermorgant’s head. Kermogant dished out his own retribution and received a yellow card shortly after. Brighton hung on and Kermorgant nearly hit the winner with a superbly executed overhead kick which Stockdale somehow pushed away.
With time running out substitute Hemed’s sharp turn took him away from the Reading defence leaving Van den Berg the option of allowing him a run on goal or a ‘tactical’ foul. His choice resulted in a second yellow card and Brighton free kick which came to nothing. Reading fully deserved their point and can feel confident about their chances this season if they continue to play with such enterprise. Beerens, Van den Berg and Swift are all good footballers and Williams and McCleary are clearly improving under the new manager and his coaching staff. There was a positive mood amongst the home fans after the final whistle today, and rightly so, they had more than matched one of the strongest sides in the league.
This Championship game took place 400 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.