Report: Albion 1 Reading 1
A determined ten-man Brighton & Hove Albion held play-off rivals Reading to a 1-1 draw at the Amex.
Oscar Garcia’s men showed masses of spirit to grind out a point having seen captain Gordon Greer dismissed for two bookable offences on 51 minutes.
But it was commitment shown by the Seagulls that will be remembered, as Albion more than matched the Royals despite being one player light.
Reading had gifted the Seagulls the lead as David Lopez’s teasing cross attracted Alex McCarthy off his line, but the keeper and Chris Gunter got their signals crossed, with the latter heading the ball into his own net.
The Royals responded via an ambitious half-volley from Hope Akpan that went over while Jake Forster-Caskey ‘s effort suffered the same fate up the other end for Albion.
Chances were limited for both sides in the opening 45 minutes but straight after the interval the game opened up but swung in favour of Nigel Adkins’s men.
Greer caught Adam Le Fondre and harshly received his second yellow card as the Oscar’s men were reduced to ten.
Matthew Upson took over captaincy duties with Lewis Dunk replacing David to sure up the defence but immediately Reading started to apply pressure.
Le Fondre could not keep his close-range header down from Danny Guthrie’s cross while Nick Blackman curled narrowly over just 60 seconds later.
Guthrie then tried from distance, firing just wide, but Royston Drenthe made no such mistake minutes later. The former Real Madrid player cut in from the right and skimmed an unstoppable left-footed drive in at the near post to bring the sides level.
Albion had the ball in the net as Keith Andrews tapped home but Leo Ulloa had already been flagged correctly for offside as the Seagulls looked dangerous on the counter-attack despite the numerical disadvantage.
But Reading were still creating chances of their own, and Tomasz Kuszczak showed strong hands to deny Blackman.
Oscar’s men nearly snatched the lead through substitute Will Buckley after good work from Ulloa, but after nodding the ball past the last man, the winger dragged wide with his weaker left foot.
Akpan came even closer a minute later, shooting inches wide for the visitors, before Tomasz Kuszczak made himself big and made an excellent one-on-one save from Jobi McAnuff.
Guthrie struck millimetres over the bar from the edge of the area and McAnuff saw a late effort comfortably saved, while the home faithful collective groaned as six minutes added on were announced.
McCarthy then produced a terrific last-minute stop to prevent Albion stealing the points as Buckley’s powerful drive was forced wide, but the majority of the Amex held its breath as Jordan Obita dragged narrowly wide with the last kick of the game.