Harte goals extends gap to six points
10th April 2012
Attendance: 20,610 (2,375 away)
Ian Harte`s early goal was enough to earn Reading a hard-thought victory against play-off chasing Brighton, taking the Royals six points ahead of West Ham in third.
Royals boss Brian McDermott was plagued with midfield injuries, with Mikele Leigertwood, Hal Robson-Kanu and Jem Karacan all out injured. Tomasz Cywka and Hayden Mullins came in for only their first and second starts of the season respectively and it was Reading who started on the back foot.
Brighton were keeping the ball well and fashioned the first chance of the game, after a Vincente free kick was volleyed well by Ashley Barnes but Federici was equal to his weak effort. The pressure continued as another good move down the left gave Barnes some space but his shot was dragged wide.
Reading struggled to get control of the ball, having to shift to Noel Hunt back into midfield to get a hold of it. Former Royals target Craig Mackail-Smith almost created a chance for himself but Reading defender Alex Pearce dealt with it well and cleared the danger.
Goalkeeper Adam Federici then had to be on his toe`s again as he tipped over a deflected drive from the home side. It appeared that Reading had calmed the storm after 10 minutes and had a decent spell of possession, which led to the opening goal on 13 minutes.
A Royals player won a free kick on the edge of the area, which was good territory for Ian Harte. The Republic of Ireland international stepped up, albeit with a lucky deflection, dispatched it into the net to give Reading a priceless lead against the run of play.
Gus Poyet`s side responded well, getting another shot off which was thwarted by a mix of a Pearce deflection and a tip over by the busy Federici. Reading striker Noel Hunt then had an effort himself after neat play from Tomasz Cywka, but his effort was always floating over.
The best chance of the game once again fell to the Seagulls. A free kick was taken quickly and after a neat one-two with Will Buckley, Vincente was through on goal but from five yards out, somehow managed to stroke his shot onto the crossbar.
Despite the constant Brighton pressure, Reading came within inches of doubling their lead just before half time. Smart play down the right allowed Cywka to cross for Noel Hunt who leaped well but his towering header was palmed away well by Seagulls keeper Brezovan.
Reading came out with a bit more purpose at the start of the second half as they forced some corners, which they unfortunately could not profit from. It appeared this would to be costly as Reading conceded a penalty, as Alex Pearce was judged to have pushed Ashley Barnes to the ground.
Barnes decided to step up to take the penalty himself but his spot kick was saved expertly by Federici down to his right hand side. This gave Reading a needed wake-up call, with Mullins picking up on a stray Brighton pass in the midfield but took too much time in debating what to do.
A very quiet Jason Roebrts then showed some smart feet to create some space on the edge of the Brighton area, but his effort wasn`t troubling Brezovan. Right back Shaun Cummings then fancied an effort himself after finding some space on the edge of the box but his left footed effort went wide.
Federici was well-justifying his tag of one of the best goalkeepers in the division as he was called into action again. Seagulls striker Craig Mackail-Smith`s scuffed effort looked as if it was heading in but Federici got a crucial hand to push it away, to save his side once again.
The home side continued to press without creating any clear cut chances, but the Royals were always a threat on the break. In fact, the closest we came to another goal at the Amex was through Royals defender Alex Pearce, as his header cannoned off the crossbar.
Brighton were now resulting to long-range efforts to them back into the game. Alan Navarro tried his luck from 20-yards but it was right down the throat of Federici. Lua Lua then attempted one after a short free kick but his strike was miles over.
Lua Lua, whose older brother scored against the Royals a few weeks ago, was proving to be the dangerman. His inviting cross from the left just needed a touch from Sam Vokes, but the Welshman couldn`t get a good enough contact on the ball.
Reading saw the game out despite being on the back foot for the majority of the game to inflict Brighton`s first home defeat of 2012. The victory means the Royals only require seven more points from the next four games to guarantee promotion back to the Premier League.
Brighton: Brezovan, Calderon, El-Abd, Greer, Jara, Buckley, Navarro, Dicker, Vincente, Barnes, Mackail-Smith
ubs: Ankergen, Painter, Lua Lua, Assulin, Vokes
Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Mullins, Cywka, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts
ubs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Church, Afobe, Le Fondre