- Albion go top of the Sky Bet Championship
- Sam Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert on target for the Seagulls
- Chris Hughton names an unchanged side from win at Barnsley
- Brighton claim their 21st league victory of the season
Brighton & Hove Albion moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table after a 3-0 victory over fellow promotion chasers Reading at the Amex.
LOTTERY RESULTS1ST PRIZE £1000
A goal each from Sam Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert put Albion one point clear at the top of the table, after two favourable results in the earlier 3pm kick-offs.
Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town were both denied all three points, after being held to 2-2 and 1-1 draws by Bristol City and Barnsley respectively, to open up a six-point gap between Brighton and third-placed Terriers.
Albion started the game brightly as Knockaert cut inside from the right flank and dazzled the Reading defence with some brilliant footwork, but couldn’t divert his effort on target.
The Frenchman was the provider again from a corner, which Shane Duffy rose highest in the box to meet the ball, only to see his header go wide.
Bruno could have given Albion the lead following some neat link-up play with Knockaert, but slid his shot wide of the far post.
Albion almost broke the deadlock in emphatic fashion when Murphy made a surging run forward and teed up Baldock on the edge of the area, but his curling shot clipped off the outside of the post.
Knockaert was a constant threat to the Royals' defence inside the opening half hour, and cut inside the Reading backline again but saw his left-footed strike saved by Ali Al Habsi.
Roy Beerens came close to giving the visitors the lead following a neat one-two, but David Stockdale saved with his feet.
The Seagulls finally broke the deadlock thanks to Baldock; he showed brilliant composure in the area from Bruno’s cross, then got the better of Paul McShane before clinically firing home from close range with 35 minutes on the clock.
McShane had a chance to level the scores with a close-range header inside the box, but his attempt went wide.
Baldock then found Knockaert out on the left in a bid to double Albion’s advantage, but his ball across the box was kept out at the near post by Al Habsi.
Danny Williams thought he had equalised on level terms ten minutes after the re-start, but was denied thanks to Duffy’s superb clearance in the six-yard box.
Albion then got their second of the game just a minute later thanks to Murphy, who beat the offside trap and latched onto a Dale Stephens pass before coolly dinking his effort over Al Habsi.
The Scotsman then turned provider for Knockaert in the box, but the winger hit the side netting from close range.
Hughton’s men had the ball in the back of the net again moments later when Glenn Murray slotted home Bruno’s tantalising cross, but the linesman ruled out the effort for offside.
The game was effectively ended though as a contest with ten minutes remaining, as Murphy picked out Knockaert on the left, and he clinically fired home into the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.
ALBION HAT-TRICK1ST £550
1ST GOAL TIME