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Match Report: Albion 1 Reading 1

7 August 2012

The Seagulls were held to a 1-1 draw by Reading tonight, a game dedicated to the Albion career of Dutch keeper Michel Kuipers.

After beating Chelsea three days ago Vicente looked to have put Reading to the sword, but Hal Robson-Kanu struck with a later header. Nonetheless the night was always going to belong to former Albion keeper Kuipers on his special night, wearing number 287 - the number of appearances he racked up as a Seagull.

Following pre-match entertainment from current UK number one music artist Wiley, Kuipers walked out on the Amex turf for the first time through a guard of hour, hand in hand with his son Duke and welcomed by a deserved standing ovation from an 8,000 strong crowd.

And when the game was underway every touch Kuipers made during his 15-minute cameo role was greeted with rapturous applause from the Seagulls faithful.

Indeed it was his touch that denied the opening goal on nine minutes when he got down brilliant to his left to push Pavel Pogrebnyak's 12-yard strike to safety. The shot was destined for the bottom corner but Kuipers matched it was a smart save, so familiar to Albion fans throughout his decade at the club.

The former Dutch Marine made way for Tomasz Kuszczak for a pre-planned substitution to another standing ovation, which must have humbled the Crawley Town player.

Vicente asked the first question of Reading keeper Adam Federici when he struck a 20-yard free-kick towards the bottom left corner, but the Australian stood up to the challenge, turning the ball around his post.

But just past the half-hour came the breakthrough for the Seagulls and it was the Spanish midfielder Vicente who played a part in the creation and the execution. His through-ball was into the path of Ashley Barnes, who was tripped by Royals defender Alex Pearce.

Referee Dave Phillips pointed to the spot and Vicente showed an abundance of class as he stroked the ball into the bottom left corner -Federici was left hapless.

The Amex crowd would have felt deja vu moments later when dead-ball specialist Ian Harte lined up a free-kick in an identical position to which he scored at the Amex in April. This time his strike shaved the outside of the post.

Then on the brink of half-time Craig Noone showed a moment of class which almost doubled the Albion lead. He carved out an opening of the edge of the Royals' box and his vicious strike was pushed onto the post by Federici.

Summer-signing Garath McCleary was brought on after the break for the visitors and he was the instigator of Reading's better chances after the break, taking on Inigo Calderon down the right and getting the better of Lewis Dunk following a long ball, but his low crosses were claimed by Kuszczak on both occasions.

The game was heading for an Albion victory but in the final minute of the game Robson-Kanu denied the Seagulls of a Premier League double when he headed McCleary's deep cross past Kuszczak and into the top right corner.

Despite the late leveller Albion fans can feel buoyed by the side's performance against the top-flight opponents and little was going to spoil Kuipers's testimonial game and Amex debut - the stadium he fought for throughout his time in Brighton.

TEAMS 

Albion: (4-3-3) Kuipers (Kuszczak, 15) (GK); Bruno, Greer, Dunk (El-Abd, 77), Calderon; Dicker, Bridcutt, Crofts; Noone (Sparrow, 77), Vicente (Agdestein, 61), Barnes (Vincelot, 86). Subs: Ankergren (GK), Brezovan (GK), Harley.

Reading: (4-4-2) Federici (McCarthy, 61) (GK); Cummings, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; Robson-Kanu, Leigertwood, Guthrie, McAnuff (McCleary, 45); Pogrebnyak (Hunt, 76), Le Fondre. Subs: Shorey, Mariappa, Morrison, Tabb, Church.

Referee: Dave Phillips

Yellow Cards: Harte (Reading)

Attendance: 8,107 (194 Away)

Albion Kit: Blue-and-white shirts; blue shorts; white socks. 

Reading Kit: Yellow shirts; yellow shorts; yellow socks.

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