Game 14 has now past us, and once again I’m writing about Brighton still being the only unbeaten team in the whole country! Not even the optimistic fans would believe this is still the case, and I for one, would enter myself into that group. If I’m totally honest, I generally thought that the run was coming to an end against Reading, a team where Brighton haven’t beaten then in the league for over 10 years. But hey, I’m happy that I was proved wrong.
The game started cagey as you would expect, Brighton putting their unbeaten start on the line, while Reading looking to make amends for their shambolic second-half performance last weekend at Fulham. The first real chance of the game came from a Oliver Norwood free-kick, which flew through the wall, but was palmed away by David Stockdale. Reading created the next chance, when Matej Vydra crossed brilliantly with the outside of his boot towards Nick Blackman, but the strikers header was just wide of Stockdale’s goal. Brighton had a chance before half-time, when Tomer Hemed’s header was tipped over by Ali Al-Habsi from a whipping corner by Jamie Murphy. Not long after the break, Brighton found themselves in front when some exquisite combination play down the right wing, ended up with Hemed squaring the ball across goal for Murphy, to have the simplest of tap-ins, and put the Seagulls 1-0 up. Down the other end, Reading had an appeal for handball declined by ref Neil Swarbrick, but had an effort blocked by Liam Rosenior while the protests went on. Brighton could of found themselves 2-0 up only if it wasn’t for a desperate slide from Al-Habsi, to clear a goal-bound backpass from Michael Hector. Soon after Blackman had a great attempt saved by Stockdale after he wriggled his way through the Albion defence. However, the next Blackman shot was fumbled by Stockdale, only for Vydra to slot home the spillage and level the game. The Royals could of won the game too, had it not been for a block by Stockdale to deny Paul McShane’s header from a corner. The game finished level, and both sides seemed to be happy with a point.
Stockdale (8); Some will say he cost us 3 points, but his saves helped us take a point. For me he has been the most under-rated player this season, especially after having a bad one last season. He has saved us points already and I’m sure he will continue to do so as the season wears on.
Bruno (7); Like Stockdale, he has been pivotal to the defence and will continue to do so as the season goes on. Came off with 10 to play due to cramp, but hopefully will be fit enough to feature on Tuesday.
Hunemeier (7); A great signing, shows his presence and isn’t afraid to get his ‘hands dirty’ when needed. Depending on how long Greer is out for, this could be the sign of a excellent partnership with Dunk.
Dunk (7); Taking full advantage of his time in the team with Greer’s injury, and must be giving Hughton headache’s as to whether to bring back Greer once he recovers from injury.
Rosenior (7); The stand-in left-back had a good game, and filled Bong’s boots quite well, when linking up with Murphy and Baldock. Only blip was how easily he was beaten by Vydra, when he produced his outside the foot cross.
Crofts (7); First start in over a year, and did well in a 3-man midfield. Seems like Hughton could start using the 4-3-3 formation more often, especially as the 3 midfielder’s are doing so well.
Kayal (7); Returned after his one game suspension, and highlighted what the Seagulls missed last week against Preston; creativity and desire. Such an important player if the Seagulls are to go for promotion.
Stephens (7); A surprise includement in the squad, after it seemed he would be out til the international break, but resumed his wonderful partnership with Kayal. Like Kayal, he is an important player to the promotion charge.
Murphy (8); Scored his second Albion goal, and is on the hunt for more goals. Produced some good football, and looks at home on the South Coast, great signing!
Hemed (7); After last week’s ‘rant’ he seemed to wake up, and produced the sort of display he had been giving at the start of the season; just needs to break his goal-drought now
Baldock (7); Once again, he worked hard; moved out to the wing to accommodate the 4-3-3 formation, but did produce a lovely weighted pass to Hemed for him to cross for Murphy.
Calderon (6); Came on for the injured Bruno to help things tick over.
Zamora (6); Replaced the tired-looking Hemed, but couldn’t find another late winner.
Ince (N/A); Came on for the last few minutes to see the game out.
Reading  v  Brighton: Vydra (78); Murphy (51)
Att; 21,224 (3,648 away)