Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Reading 0
By Tim Hodges from the Amex
Albion went a point clear of Newcastle at the top after a comfortable win against Reading.
Goals from Sam Baldock, Jamie Murphy and Anthony Kncockaert ensured the Seagulls welcome the Magpies as league leaders next Tuesday (28 February)
Albion unusually kicking towards the north goal in the first half were quick out of the blocks.
To coin a phrase they were in Reading’s faces from the outset. Shane Duffy heading just wide from a Knockaert corner.
Albion were pressing the Royals defence and the front players were not giving former Seagulls keeper Ali Al Habsi anytime to dwell on the ball.
From out of nothing Baldock shaped himself and curled a shot that was out of reach of the static Al Habsi, but the strike hit the far post and bounced to safety.
As the game opened up a little Reading pushed forward more, Tyler Blackett firing in a cross which Danny Williams, when well placed headed straight at David Stockdale.
But it was Bruno who pushed forward and clipped a pass over Baldocks shoulder, the striker brought the ball down sublimely via his chest and despite the close attention of Paul McShane, fired Albion ahead, from inside the six yard box.
Baldock,Murray and Kncokeart raced to the touchline camera man to celebrate the goal.
Knockaert soon had a chance to double Albions lead. But Al Habsi grabbed his low drive.
The Frenchman then had a chance from the other side of the pitch, but from a much tighter angle and gambled on Al Habsi legs deflecting the ball home. But the keeper stood firm and all Albion got was a corner.
On 45 minutes there was a period of applause to celebrate the life of former Albion captian Paul McCarthy. Who passed away last weekend. Aged just 45.
Albion’s two current central defenders Brightonian Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were again superb and their positional play fantastic.
Duffy’s aerial ability is second to none in this division and Dunk’s passing range exceptional.
The Irishman acrobatically hooking a goal bound effort from Williams off the line early in the second half.
And it was Duffy who set Albion away for their second. His header fell to Dale Stephens. The midfielders fantastic pass set Jamie Murphy scampering away , to lift the ball over Al Habsi. Albion’s lead was doubled with over half an hour sill to play.
Murphy was having his best Albion game for some time. Again getting clear of McShane, he picked out Knockheart, who fired into the side netting.
Albion were searching for third. Murray swept home Bruno’s cross but was adjudged off side.
Former Albion target Lewis Grabben came on for Gareth McClaery. And soon won a free kick in the D, just outside the penalty area. But Albion’s well marshalled wall did its job.
As Readlng tried to take the game back to Albion.But then Murphy picked up a loose ball and picked out Knockeart. The Frenchman placed his shot into the bottom corner, to the delight of the Amex and send the Seagulls into a three goal lead.
The match was now over as a contest. As the Seagulls adopted to thier ‘ole’ style of passing.
Albion now have that big match on pan cake day 28th February
Top of the league at this stage of the season is a great achievement for this club. Four points clear with 39 points to play for is a healthy scenario.
This coming Tuesday at the Amex against the toon army is possibly Albion’s biggest match of this century so far.
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