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16:55 31st October 2015

Vydra opens account to earn Royals draw

Matej Vydra's first goal in Reading colours earned the Royals a hard-fought draw against league leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.

The table-toppers had gone ahead soon after the break through Jamie Murphy, but a sharp finish from the Czech striker gave the Royals a point.

EnteringvBrighton 468

It was the visitors that started the brighter in the opening stages, with Murphy and Beram Kayal linking up well on the Brighton left putting Chris Gunter under early pressure.

As the minutes passed the Royals began to settle and began to give Brighton some problems of their own. Orlando Sa’s presence was causing the Seagulls back line difficulties as he won a succession of free kicks around the Brighton box.

It was from one of these that Reading forced the first save of the game.  Oliver Norwood stepped up to take the set play about 20 yards from the Seagulls goal. His driven effort comfortably cleared the wall and forced a smart save from David Stockdale, diving to his left hand post. 

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The next opening of the half however was not until the 26th minute when a raking pass from Norwood picked out Vydra in space on the right hand side. His jinking run beat Liam Rosenior and a clever outside-of-the-boot cross found Blackman at the back post. The forward adjusted to the flight of the curling ball but his diving header bounced just wide leaving Stockdale looking relieved in the Brighton goal.

As the half began to draw to a close Brighton seemed to find a second wind coming close twice in the space of a couple of minutes. First a Sam Baldock deflected effort narrowly cleared the Reading crossbar, then from the resulting corner Ali Al-Habsi was forced into his first save of the afternoon.  A whipped delivery picked out Tomer Hemed at the near post and his glancing header was well tipped over by the Reading keeper, ensuring the score was goalless at the break.

Half-time: Reading 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Brighton goal 468

Not long after the break, Reading were behind. Combination play down the right hand side saw a curled delivery pick out Murphy at the back post, who tucked his finish away and put the league leaders 1-0 up.

Reading nearly responded immediately from a Norwood corner. His cross found Michael Hector who controlled and drove a shot at goal only for his effort to be blocked on the line, shortly after the ref waved away strong claims for a hand-ball.

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Minutes later the Royals again came within a whisker of levelling when a lightning counter attack cut open the Brighton defence. A powerful run and pass from Blackman picked out Sa, whose first time ball slid Vydra one-on-one with the keeper. At the last second with Stockdale bearing down on him the forward unselfishly tried to find Blackman but his pass was behind his teammate and Brighton were able to clear.

The following minutes saw Reading turn up the pressure on Brighton, creating a number of chances, the closest of which was a Blackman effort forcing a fine save from Stockdale at his near post.

Danny Williams was the next to go close for the Royals picking up the ball 25 yards from goal and hitting a vicious low drive that flew inches wide of the keeper's right hand post.

Vydra goal 468

With the clock ticking on the Reading pressure was beginning to show and on the 78th minute the Royals had their equaliser. Nick Blackman was again the architect of the move picking up the ball midway inside the Brighton half and running at the defence. The forward unleashed a low shot from distance which Stockdale spilled and Vydra pounced at on opportunity, rifling his finish into the roof of the net from close range. 

The Royals continued to press to try and flip the game on its head - captain McShane came close to forcing a header over the line as a corner came in from the left.

Reading were firmly in the ascendancy in the closing stages and loaded the box, coming close to what would have been a well-merited winner - a succession of deliveries were just about dealt with as the visitors held on to claim a point from their travels.

Full-time: Reading 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Taylor, Hector, McShane (c), Norwood, Williams, McCleary (Hurtado 73), Blackman, Sa (Piazon 73), Vydra.
Unused subs: Bond, Obita, Ferdinand, Fernandez, Liburd.
Goal: Vydra (78).

Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale, Bruno (Calderon 77), Huenemeier, Dunk, Rosenior, Kayal (Ince 90), Stephens, Crofts, Murphy, Hemed (Zamora 77), Baldock.
Unused subs: Maenpaa, Goldson, March, Manu.
Goal: Murphy (51).

Attendance: 21,224 (3,648 away).

Referee: Neil Swarbrick