Injury time equaliser thwarts away win
- Ex-Seagull Murray scores in 1st minute
- Murray heads home via a deflection for 2-0
- Forster-Caskey stabs homebefore break
- Colunga hits the woodwork on stroke of HT
- Federici at his best to hold Brighton at bay
- Calderon levels in 90th minute. FT: 2-2.
Murray had handed the visitors a deserved two goal lead with a close range effort in the opening minute and then a deflected header as the Royals dominated their hosts.
But a long Greg Halford throw unlocked the Reading defence before the break, Jake Forster-Caskey stabbing Albion back into it with their first attempt on target.
Reading had to weather a Brighton storm at stages of the second half, and seemed like they would hold on to the three points until a cut back from the left was rifled past the formidable Adam Federici in the final minute to give the Seagulls a share of the spoils.
Brighton: Stockdale, Halford, Dunk, Gardner, Holla (McCourt 75), J Bennett, Calderon (c), Forster-Caskey,Colunga, E Bennett (March 61), Bent (Mackail-Smith 29).
Subs: Walton, Hughes, Chicksen, Ince.
Yellow: J Bennett
Reading: Federici; Gunter, Obita, Hector, Pearce (c), Norwood, Williams, Robson-Kanu (Kelly 80), Taylor (Cummings 58), Cox, Murray (Blackman 57).
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Kuhl, Tanner.
Yellow: Cox, Murray, Cummings
Referee: Mr Graham Salisbury
On a bitterly cold Boxing Day afternoon, it took Steve Clarke's side no time to warm up. In the first minute, Reading took the lead!
Cox won the the ball well from a Pearce up and under and burst forward. He released Hal Robson-Kanu down the left side of the box and his cut back bobbled through to former Brighton man Glenn Murray who scuffed home from from close range at the second attempt.
Brighton were stunned and Simon Cox appealed for what looked like a good shout for a penalty when he was bundled over by Lewis Dunk inside the box, chasing after a ball out on the right side. Referee Graham Salisbury awarded nothing.
Cox then rode a challenge on the edge of the box to tee up Murray with a deflected effort that fell to his strike partner's feet. Murray hooked it goalwards but it took another deflection and went behind for a corner.
Reading were bossing matters and Robson-Kanu did well to dig out a cross from the left that he floated to Jake Taylor at the far post. The midfielder looped a header back across the face of goal and David Stockdale had to stretch to push it away from danger.
Brighton began to gain a foothold though as the half wore on but with 25 minutes on the clock, the Royals had a deserved second goal. Cox won a free kick on the right, which Norwood curled into the box. Murray rose to head goalwards and it cannoned into Gary Gardner and flew past the wrongfooted Stockdale to make it 2-0.
Brighton's troubles deepened as Darren Bent hobbled off to be replaced by Craig Mackail-Smith up front, but a former Royal gave the hosts a route back into the game with five minutes of the half remaining. Greg Halford's mammoth long throw was hurled into the Reading box, flicked on at the near post and Jake Forster-Caskey stabbed it over the line at the back stick.
Reading almost restored their two-goal cushion moments later when, following good work from Cox, Murray fired a swerving shot at goal only for Stockdale to parry well.
But another huge throw from Halford on the stroke of half-time almost unlocked the Royals' defence a second time. This time the flick on fell to Colunga who hooked the ball over his shoulder and past Federici only to see it cannon into the base of the right post.
The home side signalled their intent to get back into this within the opening minutes of the second half, Gary Gardner whistling an effort from the edge of the area just wide of the bottom left corner.
At the other end, Obita combined with Murray with a low cross into the near post, but from a difficult angle Murray could only flick it wide.
There looked to be more goals in a game which was only becoming more open and after Mackail-Smith had brilliantly brought a long ball into the box under control, he toed it into the side netting.
Then Adam Federici had to be called into action for the first time, getting down well low to his right to push a powerful 25-yard thunderbolt from Holla wide of his right post.
Moments later, more brilliance from Federici saw the Aussie push a well-struck Joe Bennett effort over his crossbar as the home crowd got behind their side.
Shaun Cummings and Nick Blackman were introduced just before the hour, with Murray and Taylor making way. But Brighton were coming closer and Federici was at his best to push a glancing March header away.
The Aussie leapt through the air to guard his near post as an inswinging cross threatened to creep inside his upright and Reading were facing a real fight to hold on to their lead as we entered the final 20 minutes of the match.
Reading's best outlet was coming on the break and twice Jordan Obita crosses were intercepted before they could reach a Royal in the middle.
With six minutes left on the clock, Blackman got the ball to his feet on the edge of the box. He chose not to feed Cummings in space to his right and instead shoot himself, the effort taking a deflection to roll just wide and behind for a corner.
Stockdale had to be alert to deny Norwood's inswinging corner from curling in and as time ticked away, Reading were getting half chances to put the result to bed.
But with only one goal in it, Brighton kept pressing and a Colunga cross was almost headed home by Mackail-Smith from close range. Federici scrambled it off his line and the offside flag would have ruled it out.
And, in the final seconds of normal time, Albion got their equaliser. Captain Inigo Calderon drilled a low cut back from the left past Federici to make it 2-2 and set up an interesting five minutes of injury time.
Reading looked the more likely to find a winner in added time, but the final whistle brought the game to an end at 2-2. A first point for manager Steve Clarke going into a home fixture against Norwich in two days' time.