I for one was not expecting much out of this game, maybe a 2-0 defeat at best. After a third placed finish last year, Brighton had started this season in imperious form, having not conceded a goal all season, and scoring ten in their last three matches. Us on the other hand, we had conceded six in our last two games.
In and amongst all the drama that was going on at the Madejski beforehand with regards to the power cut at the stadium, murmurs of an unchanged side rang around the ground, which was a shock to all, but Jaap Stam knows what he is doing and I’m not going to argue with him!
At the Madejski, we are used to Reading putting in a lot of effort for the first 10 minutes, sit off for a little bit and then get stronger again towards the end of the half. Today, there had been two goals in eight minutes. Just 120 seconds in, Reading were 1-0 up, John Swift again proving that he is a fantastic signing. His free kick swiftly (I promise we will all get bored of this soon) went past David Stockdale to put the Royals in a shock and deserved lead.
It proved to be an eventful afternoon for Joey van den Berg. Firstly, he headed the ball into the back of his own net. If he could do that at the other end of the pitch it would all be good! He did insist to referee Mike Jones that he was pushed, but his discussions led him to picking up a yellow card for dissent.
I’m pretty sure you will all be with me on this one, but Mr Jones gave some questionable decisions this afternoon and some that incensed Reading fans. To be honest, some of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came when Mr Jones gave a free kick to Reading.
The Royals absorbed lots of pressure in the remainder of the first half, but slowly got back into it and had some good chances. Brighton played well, but they did seem to have a mistake in them at times. When they did make a mistake, they were always able to cover themselves up quickly and stay away from trouble. If only we could do the same, but we do like to make some awful mistakes.
As Stam said in the week, we concede goals from our own mistakes and we like to make things very difficult for ourselves. The visitors started well in the first half and you could see that they were looking for a quick goal. It took them just one minute to go ahead after the break with Anthony Knockaert’s low drive sending the Seagulls fans into delirium and lots more chants of ‘We are top of the league’ continued.
Throughout the game, my mum kept saying to me that we needed a striker, and trust me I agree with her, but why would you need a striker when you have Captain Fantastic Paul McShane! He coolly slotted home from a Garath McCleary cross to equalise for the Royals. It wasn’t a typical defender's finish, but it was good to see him get a goal early on in the season.
Yann Kermorgant had a good afternoon and was a constant threat to the Brighton back line. He hit the crossbar with a header, and even tried a sneaky overhead kick to try and get all three points, but it wasn’t to be. In the end the Royals finished with 16 shots, four of those on target.
Liam Moore finally signed for the Royals on Saturday after months of discussions, and thank goodness he did as van den Berg will now miss the next match, sent off late in the second half after he was turned by Tomer Hemed. Luckily, his mistake didn’t cost us a point.
Overall, Reading held on to a draw against an extremely well organised Brighton side who will go far this season. It was a fair result today and even though it has been a tough week with defeats against Wolves and Newcastle, performances have still been pretty good. Yes, there is still plenty of room for improvement, but things finally seem to be coming together.
Were you as encouraged by the display as Sophie? Let us know your thoughts on the game.