Brighton climb to second after victory over Reading

Sam Baldock. Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst

Sam Baldock. Photograph: Angela Brinkhurst

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James Wilson netted the only goal of the game as Brighton & Hove Albion moved up to second in the Championship with a 1-0 win at home to Reading this evening.

Manchester United loanee Wilson, starting for the first time since January, struck with a superb strike on 25 minutes to lift the Seagulls above Hull, who drew 1-1 at home to Nottingham Forest, and Middlesbrough.

The visitors went close after just four minutes when Hal Robson-Kanu side-footed inches wide from 15 yards, after Matej Vydra failed to get a shot away.

Albion then threatened three minutes later as Sam Baldock’s low cross was only half cleared and Anthony Knockaert skipped past a challenge before firing into the side netting.

Beram Kayal had a free kick easily saved on 16 minutes, before Brighton had a superb chance to go ahead a minute later. Man-of-the-match Baldock slipped Dale Stephens through one-on-one but the Albion midfielder fired straight at the legs of Reading keeper Ali Al Habsi.

Brighton continued to look dangerous and went ahead on 25 minutes, moments after Baldock’s cross just evaded Wilson. They superbly caught Reading on the break as Jamie Murphy fed Baldock, who released Wilson and the Manchester United loanee clinically side-footed into the far corner from 15 yards.

The visitors had a golden chance to level on 34 minutes. Vydra’s shot bounced awkwardly in front of Albion keeper David Stockdale, who could only parry the ball out and Michael Hector blazed the rebound wildly over from just five yards.

Wilson then could have doubled Albion’s lead just before the break but was unable to keep his header down from Knockaert’s free kick.

Brighton dominated play at the start of the second half and should have gone 2-0 up on 56 minutes when Knockaert burst down the right and crossed for Baldock but he could only side-foot over from eight yards.

Albion had another excellent opening six minutes later as Baldock played Murphy through but he rolled his effort across goal and wide of the far post.

It was the visitors who then threatened for the first time in the half but Robson-Kanu could only direct a header from sub Garath McCleary’s cross straight at Stockdale from close range.

Albion then had a let-off 14 minutes from time as Ola John was left unmarked at the back post just six yards out from a free kick and somehow scuffed the ball into the ground and wide of the goal.

The Royals continued to have a number of free kicks in dangerous positions but their final delivery kept letting them down as Albion, who were hanging on a bit at times, recorded a fifth successive clean sheet in the league.

BRIGHTON: Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson, Dunk, Rosenior; Knockaert (LuaLua 77), Kayal, Stephens, Murphy (Bong 77); Wilson, Baldock (Sidwell 88). Subs: Maenpaa, Greer, Hemed, Skalak.

READING: Al Habsi; Gunter, McShane, Vydra (McCleary 64), Hector, Robson-Kanu, Obita, Ferdinand, John (Rakels 81),Williams, Kermorgant. Subs: Bond, Taylor, Norwood, Quinn, Cox.

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