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Last Updated: Friday, 4 April, 2003, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Reading 1-2 Brighton
Reading players protest as the referee awards Brighton an indirect free-kick
A disputed free-kick sets Brighton on their way to victory

Brighton moved three points clear of the First Division relegation zone after an away win over promotion-chasing Reading.

Goals from Paul Brooker and Paul Kitson sealed maximum points for the Seagulls while a returning Jamie Cureton netted for Reading.

After a scrappy start, the visitors took the lead in bizarre circumstances after 17 minutes.

The Reading defence snuffed out Bobby Zamora's threatening run only for defender Graeme Murty to nudge the ball back to Royals goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.

He picked up the ball, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding an indirect free-kick to Brighton on the penalty spot.

Zamora reacted quickly and knocked a pass to Brooker who slotted home his sixth goal of the season.

Reading were enlivened after going a goal down and Glen Little - making his debut after signing on loan from Burnley - screwed two scoring chances.

The home side continued to push forward in the second half but struggled to find their feet in front of goal.

Nicky Forster almost levelled in the 68th minute as he latched on to James Harper's pass and beat Seagulls keeper Dave Beasant with a low shot, but the ball inched past the far post.

But it was Brighton, who had failed to trouble Hahnemann since the restart, who grabbed a vital second goal in the 77th minute.

Richard Carpenter's inswinging free-kick was met by the head of Kitson, and his glancing header went through the legs of the keeper and trickled over the line.

The home side were not finished as fellow sub Cureton, playing his first game since January, handed them a lifeline seven minutes later.

Harper's pass deflected into the striker's path and he let fly with a swerving 25-yard drive that whistled past Beasant for his eighth goal of an injury-ravaged campaign.

But Reading failed to take advantage of five minutes of stoppage time, as Brighton battled to extend their run to just one defeat in their last six matches.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Williams, Brown, Chadwick (Tyson 79), Hughes (Cureton 72), Harper, Newman (Watson 59), Little, Forster.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Sidwell.

Booked: Brown.

Brighton: Beasant, Watson, Mayo, Cullip, Ingimarsson, Hart (Jones 72), Carpenter, Rodger (Oatway 79), Brooker, Zamora, Barrett (Kitson 72).
Subs Not Used: Packham, Pethick.

Booked: Hart, Zamora.

Attendance: 16,133.

Referee: M Cowburn (Lancashire).

BBC Five Live's Jonathan Pearce
"Reading threw everything at the inspired visitors"



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