Forster lifts Reading on rebound

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The Independent Online

Reading Clambered back into the play-off zone last night thanks to their first away win in over three months but it was achieved as much through Brighton's misfortune as the visitors' own ability.

Reading Clambered back into the play-off zone last night thanks to their first away win in over three months but it was achieved as much through Brighton's misfortune as the visitors' own ability.

There were enough sub-plots at the Withdean to keep a soap opera writer busy for weeks. Steve Coppell was Albion's manager from 2002-03, during which time the Seagulls were relegated to what is now League One. However, when the vacancy arose at Reading, he took that opportunity 18 months ago and is now trying to take the Royals, via the play-offs, into the Premiership for the first time. The Berkshire club also boast two players, Steve Sidwell and Ivar Ingimarsson, who used to wear Albion's colours.

Coppell's counterpart Mark McGhee used to manage Reading himself before leaving to go to Wolves, but Royals fans have never let him forget what they regard as betrayal.

As for the football, the home side at least displayed more fortitude and vigour than a week ago when they were 4-0 down against Wigan inside 35 minutes. That would have given McGhee some pleasure, although you could practically taste his annoyance when Mark McCammon missed an open goal after 12 minutes. Marcus Hahnemann could only clear a back-pass away to the Albion forward but he merely returned the compliment rather than find the empty net from 12 yards.

Reading's best chance of a poor first half also came about through a goalkeeping error five minutes earlier, when Rami Shaaban collided with his own player but Dave Kitson's shot was blocked by Kerry Mayo.

Albion's three substitutions were used up in under an hour. First to go was central defender Martin Hinshelwood with a leg injury after a tangle with Andy Hughes - then Mayo walked off. Concern over McCammon, who was treated for seven minutes at half-time in the centre circle, abated when it emerged he was only suffering from dizziness.

Those changes took their toll on the hosts, although the most important change was that of Reading's Nicky Forster, coming on for Dean Morgan after 59 minutes. Within five minutes he was on the end of Glen Little's cross and after forcing a save from Shaaban with a header, he bundled over the rebound.

The closest Albion came to equalising was Adam Virgo's powerful volley 10 minutes from time which forced a flying save from Hahnemann.

Brighton & Hove Albion (4-4-2): Shaaban; Reid, Butters, Hinshelwood (Hammond, 24), Mayo (Jones, 56); Hart, Oatway, Virgo, Harding; Knight, McCammon (McPhee, h-t). Substitutes not used: May (gk), Watson.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Little, Sidwell, Newman, Hughes; Kitson, Morgan (Forster, 59). Substitutes not used: Young (gk), Keown, Harper, Brooker.

Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).

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