Ten men win again to reach Fourth Round!A brave Reading had to defend a lead with ten men for the second time in three days...and they did so, away from home once more, deservedly earning victory at the Amex tonight to take their place in the next round of the EFL Cup at Brighton's expense!
Quinn opened the scoring with a high finish from a Swift corner just after the half hour mark, but Tyler Blackett was shown a straight red card for catching Sebastien Pocognoli in the follow through to a tackle which saw the Reading defender win the ball cleanly five minutes before the break.
Swift made it 2-0, just eight minutes into the second half to give the visitors a two-goal cushion to protect - the midfielder finding the top left corner with a sublime strike just as he had at Oakwell at the weekend. And Reading defended their lead superbly, until Tomer Hemed pulled one back with five minutes remaining. Six minutes of injury time saw Albion throw everything at the Royals, but Jaap Stam's men held on to deservedly reach the next round against all the odds.
Jaap Stam made eight changes to his starting eleven, handing starts to four Academy products in Tennai Watson, Jordan Obita, Liam Kelly and Dominic Samuel. Sandro Wieser was named on the bench for the first time this season, while Stuart Moore played understudy to the starting Anssi Jaakkola in goal.
The first chance fell to the visitors. Tyler Blackett swept the ball out to Harriott on the right who slid the ball in to Swift down the line. His pull back was cut out by a Brighton body, but the ball fell to Dominic Samuel who dug a shot out but could only scoop it over the bar.
A misplaced pass from Quinn presented former Royals loanee Glenn Murray with half a chance in front of goal, but Blackett - playing at centre-back - did well to charge down the striker's drive before Anssi Jaakkola was troubled.
Liam Kelly stung the palms of Niki Maenpaa with a firm drive from 25 yards out, then Watson did well at the other end to head a good cross away, against Murray and behind for a goal kick.
Swift did well next, pulling the ball back to tee up Mendes for a shot and the striker forced a save from Maenpaa. And Swift had an effort of his own when a looping ball across the box fell nicely for a volley - but the midfielder arrowed just over.
Reading were in the ascendancy and Mendes did well to win the ball in an advanced position but his ball back to the edge of the area couldn't find a man, with 25 minutes played.
Brighton came within a whisker of scoring the opener though when Baldock crossed from the byline to Elvis Manu, who arrowed a first time volley inches wide of the bottom left corner. Then Norwood drilled wide from distance.
But the Royals took the lead in the 32nd minute through the skipper Stephen Quinn. Samuel won a corner, Swift floated it into the box and, under pressure from a number of Reading players in the six yard box, Albion failed to clear it. Quinn stepped in and lashed high past Maenpaa to make it 1-0.
A lovely move that started at the back almost opened up the hosts again. Eight or nine players were involved in the passing that led to Quinn trying to thread the ball into the path of Samuel - but Maenpaa was off his line to smother it at the striker's feet.
But with three minutes of the half remaining, the Royals lost a man. Blackett slid in to a challenge on Pocognoli and won the ball but he seemed to catch the Brighton man in the follow through. The referee whipped out a red card without much hesitation and the Royals were reduced to ten men.
Danzell Gravenberch replaced Dominic Samuel to reinforce the back line but he couldn't prevent Murray glancing a header past Jaakkola and against the crossbar from the free kick conceded by Blackett.
Mendes showed his pace and power to scamper onto a good ball forward from Quinn, but he rifled his right-footed shot wide as four minutes of injury time were signalled.
Hunt scuffed an effort wide after Gravenberch's headed clearance and half-time gave Reading the chance to regroup, a goal to the good but a man down.
Half-time: Brighton 0-1 Reading
Brighton began to pile on the pressure with a series of corners, Norwood's inswinger from the left causing problems for Jaakkola and the defenders, then Kelly slicing clear from an outswinger on the opposite side.
But Reading scored a second to give themselves a bit more a cushion going into the final 35 minutes. Harriott fed Mendes, who flicked the ball on to Quinn down the right side. He cut a low cross back for Swift who struck a delightful right-footed effort into the top left corner via the fingertips of Niki Maenpaa.
Murray nearly capitalised on a Swift slip at the other end, hammering a right-footed effort at goal only for Jaakkola to parry well in the centre of his goal. And Reading's personnel troubles took a further blow when Liam Moore had to be withdrawn through injury.
The Royals were defending their lead with a back four that included Chris Gunter and Gravenberch at centre-half, with Watson and Obita in the full-back spots. And Baldock tried his luck with a glancing header at the near post that sailed over the crossbar.
Tennai Watson had to foul the lively Manu to give away a free kick 22 yards out, but Norwood could only find the palms of Jaakkola with 20 minutes remaining.
Reading twice scrapped the ball clear of their six yard box within the space of a minute as Albion threw men forward to look for a way back into the tie. But at the other end Reading kept the threat, Mendes' powerful break away buying the Royals a little respite, then Watson winning a free kick and Harriott testing Maenpaa in the Albion goal.
Reading were defending superbly and the Seagulls were growing increasingly frustrated and Murray headed wide with an instinctive effort inside the Reading box.
But with six minutes remaining substitute Tomer Hemed lashed the ball past a helpless Jaakkola from close range to halve the deficit and set up a nervy finish.
Jaakkola held onto a late header and in the final minute of the normal ninety, Murphy drilled just wide. Brighton were coming closer and closer when six minutes of injury time were announced.
Murray had an appeal for a penalty dismissed when he went over inside the area from a challenge from Harriott, then Norwood struck a long-range effort wide. Cross after cross came into a packed Reading box, and Niki Maenpaa twice came up to try to get the equaliser for the hosts. But Reading rightly hung on. A brave, brave Reading are through to the next round!
Full-time: Brighton 1-2 Reading
Brighton: Maenpaa, Hunt, Huenemeier, Goldson, Pocognoli (Skalak 70), Sidwell, Ince (Hemed 62), Norwood, Manu (Murphy 73), Murray, Baldock.
Unused subs: Ankergren, Dunk, Bong, Kayal.
Yellow: Sidwell, Norwood, Skalak
Goals: Hemed (85)
Reading: Jaakkola, Watson, Obita, Blackett, L Moore (Gunter 61), Kelly, Quinn, Swift (Evans 76), Harriott, Samuel (Gravenberch 41), Mendes.
Unused subs: S Moore, Wieser, Beerens.
Goals: Quinn (32), Swift (54)
Att: 6,235 (390 away)