- James Wilson on target for Albion
- The Seagulls move up into the top two
- Gaetan Bong comes on to make his first appearance in almost five months
- Brighton keep a fifth consecutive clean sheet
Brighton & Hove Albion moved up into the automatic promotion places after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Reading at the Amex.
James Wilson’s first-half strike was enough to claim the three points and coupled with Hull City’s 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest, the Seagulls rose two places up to second in the table and kept a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the process.
Chris Hughton made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday last week, as Beram Kayal and Wilson came into replace Steve Sidwell and Tomer Hemed.
Reading created their first chance of the game inside four minutes when Hal Robson-Kanu latched onto a loose ball and his low shot went just past the post after some good link-up play with Matej Vydra.
The Seagulls created their first opportunity after Sam Baldock’s shot deflected into the path of Anthony Knockaert, whose subsequent strike hit the side netting.
The next chance came from a set-piece and despite taking a slight deflection, Kayal’s shot was comfortably saved by Ali Al Habsi.
The Reading keeper was called into action just a minute later after making himself big to keep out a Dale Stephens shot following Baldock’s perfectly-weighted pass.
The Baldock-Wilson combination broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, as Albion’s number nine played in Wilson on the left and the Manchester United loanee coolly side-footed an effort in off the post.
The Royals came close to an equaliser when David Stockdale parried Matej Vydra’s fierce strike into the path of Michael Hector, but the defender fired his close-range effort over the bar.
Jamie Murphy was next to try his luck for Albion after he cut inside from the left flank, but his shot sailed over the target.
Anthony Knockaert found Wilson in the box from a free-kick, but the striker could not divert his header on target to conclude a satisfactory first half for Albion.
After a relatively quiet start to the second half, the game sprang back into life after Knockaert found Baldock inside the box only for the latter to see his shot go over the bar.
Baldock turned provider for Murphy just moments later but the winger's angled strike went just wide of the far post.
The Royals still carried a threat on the counter-attack though, as Hal Robson-Kanu rose highest in the area to force Stockdale into a low save.
Reading had arguably their best chance to restore parity when Ola John latched on to a ball across the area and scuffed a shot over the bar from inside the six-yard box.
Hughton reshuffled his pack with just under a quarter of an hour left and brought on Kazenga
LuaLua and Gaetan Bong for Murphy and man-of-the-match Baldock. It was Bong’s first Albion appearance in almost five months after his recovery from injury.
Albion pressed forward in a bid to put the game beyond Reading, and Connor Goldson’s header was cleared off the line by Yann Kermorgant from a Stephens set-piece.
But the scoreline remained 1-0 and Hughton’s men claimed three crucial points.
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