- Mackie makes it 1-0 with power strike
- Hector and Robson-Kanu come close
- O'Grady levels with second half penalty
- Mackie drills Royals back into lead
- Keown handed his professional debut as sub
Jamie Mackie struck eight side of half time to earn the Royals a valuable victory at home to Brighton this afternoon, taking Steve Clarke's men 13 points clear of the bottom three in the process.
Mackie opened the scoring when he scurried past two men and smashed a swerving effort past David Stockdale midway through the first half and Brighton had little in reply until handed a lifeline.
Emmanuel Ledesma wriggled free of his man and weaved into the box early in the second half only to fall as Jake Cooper tried to fend off his run into the area. Referee Andy Haines pointed to the spot and Chris O'Grady made no mistake from 12 yards.
But the travelling fans were silenced minutes later when from nowhere Mackie scuttled in from the right and rifled a low effort past Stockdale and into the bottom left corner for 2-1. Reading could have had more, but will be happy with a return to winning ways at home.
Reading: Federici, Gunter (c), Chalobah, Hector, Cooper, Akpan, Williams (Keown 90), Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 76), McCleary, Mackie (Norwood 78), Blackman.
Substitutes: Andersen, Taylor, Cox, Yakubu.
Brighton: Stockdale, Halford, Greer (c), Dunk, Bennett, Ince (Best 76), Forster-Caskey, Kayal, Ledesma (Bruno 86), LuaLua, O'Grady.Substitutes: Ankergren, Hughes, Calderon, Holla, Teixeira.Yellow: Ince, Dunk, Bennett.
Att: 14,748 (1,116 away)
Two early McCleary deliveries caused Brighton concern in the opening five minutes, the second a corner on the left that fizzed through the Albion box without anyone able to get a touch to stab it home.
Less than ten minutes had been played when Blackman won a free kick on the right and McCleary whipped another good ball into the box. Cooper connected but the ball was blocked yards from Brighton's line and despite Michael Hector's best efforts to toe it past David Stockdale, Albion cleared.
Hal Robson-Kanu then broke through the Brighton back line but arrowed high over the crossbar, before Greg Halford had a great chance to break the deadlock with a close range header - but it bounced weakly into Federici's arms.
Halford's long throw needed hacking clear by Gunter as Kazenga LuaLua loitered in the middle, then Akpan threaded a good ball into Blackman's feet, but the striker couldn't find the run of Robson-Kanu with his own throughball.
But with less than half an hour on the clock, Reading found a way through and it was noneother than our Player of the Month for February, Jamie Mackie
. Bursting forward after Brighton had conceded possession, he scurried around one man, glided past another and unleashed a swerving right-footed drive that whistled past a stunned Stockdale. Mackie reignited his velociraptor celebration and the home crowd triumphantly cheered the loanee's name.
Michael Hector came close to doubling the lead minutes later after Robson-Kanu had done well down the left and cut a good ball across which fell to the centre-back, but he couldn't keep his shot down.
Robson-Kanu had the next shot on target, drilling low across his body but Stockdale was down well to save his 25-yard effort. And in the last minute of the first half, the Royals broke through Akpan and McCleary, the latter crossing into the box to see Lewis Dunk concede a corner.
The game took a twist early in the second half when the Brighton equalised from the penalty spot. Emmanuel Ledesma weaved his way into the area and stumbled as he was fended off by Jake Cooper. Referee Andy Haines pointed to the spot and Chris O'Grady
smashed the spotkick past Federici to make it 1-1.
Parity only lasted a matter of minutes though as Mackie
struck once more. Cutting in from the right, he pulled the trigger and the ball skidded past Stockdale and nestled inside the bottom left corner to instantly silence the travelling fans.
Danny Williams led the charge soon after and won a free kick as Rohan Ince tripped the midfielder. Blackman tried his luck from more than 30 yards out and he struck the set piece well, but Stockdale gathered it into his body quite comfortably in the end.
A nice exchange between Mackie and McCleary out on the right saw the latter loop a cross towards Blackman who lined it up well and volleyed first time, but it fizzed just wide.
With less than a quarter of an hour left to play an almighty goalmouth scramble somehow didn't go in for the Royals. It was all started by Cooper's far post header that saw Pogrebnyak hook a volley goalwards only for Stockdale to brilliantly save. Then the big Russian, Blackman and a number of other players scrapped to toe it home from close range but somehow the Seagulls survived with countless men hacking it clear on the goalline.
Reading were in command and Steve Clarke brought on young defender Niall Keown to hand the son of Martin Keown his Royals debut in injury time. He didn't have too much to do before the final whistle sounded and three points were all Reading's.