Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship


READING 1 BRIGHTON 1

Reading: M Vydra (78)
Brighton: J Murphy (51)

League leaders Brighton escaped from Madjeski Stadium with their unbeaten record still intact after hanging on for point following a stirring second half performance from the Royals which could easily have yielded all three points for the home side. After an uneventful sparring match in the first half, Brighton took the lead on fifty one minutes through Murphy who arrived at the far post to finish a move of the highest quality. The goal sparked an impressive comeback from the Royals which produced a deserved equaliser from Vydra following up a venomous strike from the edge of the box by Blackman. Brighton defended resolutely but a little more composure in front of goal would surely have given Reading a notable home win. If Brighton are considered a good bet for automatic promotion then so are Reading who matched them defensively and had the edge on creativity and attacking prowess.

Reading, still coming to terms with a defensive disaster at Craven Cottage last week, started cautiously and Brighton dominated possession in the opening quarter of the game. There was initially an edginess about Reading’s play and possession was squandered with careless passing. As the game wore on Reading settled down and began to probe and test the Albion defence. Albion were not too fussy about the manner in which they broke up Reading’s attacks and Sa and Blackman came in for some rough treatment around the edge of the box. Clear cut chances were few, but Stockdale had to be at his best to reach a well struck free kick from Norwood. Williams had the best opportunity of the first half when Blackman picked him out with a perfectly weighted pass but poor technique let him down and the ball flew high and wide. McCleary had a slightly sharper chance from a good move but his left foot strike was also woefully off target. Blackman headed just wide from Vydra’s cross. Al Habsi had only one save of note to make from Hemed. The final action of the half saw Blackman smash a long range effort over the bar.

Reading started the second half on the front foot but soon found themselves a goal down. A sweeping move down the right involving half the Brighton team was rounded off by Murphy with a composed finish. Reading took control of the game and set about their quest for an equaliser. Blackman could not get enough of the ball, and although he did not always make the right decision, he tormented the Brighton back four weaving his way through players on in the crowded central area. A classic misunderstanding between Hector and Al Habsi almost resulted in what would have been a fatal own goal. Al Habsi fortunately managed to scramble back and clear the ball as it rolled towards the unguarded net. That was the closest Brighton came to a second goal.

It was clear Brighton were not going to press to extend their lead so Steve Clarke made some shrewd tactical substitutions with just over fifteen minute s left. Off came Sa and McCleary to be replaced by Piazon and Hurtado. With Blackman operating exclusively down the middle he had more space to exploit in Sa’s absence, and Piazon and Hurtado provided a creative set up more adept at picking a way through Albion’s tight defensive formation. Blackman’s direct play and willingness to shoot finally produced the breakthrough when the power of this shot proved too much for Stockdale and he was unable to gather the ball. Vydra’s speed and anticipation allowed him to pounce on the loose ball and lash it gleefully into the net. There was still time for a winner but Brighton clung on to their point as Reading pounded their defence in the final minutes unable to find the finish their enterprise deserved.

After disappointing away results at Rotherham and Fulham it was re-assuring to see Reading are still looking very much like candidates for automatic promotion.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 696 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.