Ian Harte's goal earned Reading a win that moves them level on points with Championship leaders Southampton.
Harte's deflected first-half free-kick secured a 13th win in 15 matches for Brian McDermott's team.
Vicente hit the bar for a dominant Brighton and Ashley Barnes had a penalty saved by Adam Federici.
Gus Poyet's team's four-match winless run leaves them two points off the play-offs but the Royals are now six points clear of third-placed West Ham.
The top two clash on Friday, as McDermott's side travel to Southampton.
The hosts, eager to put themselves back in the play-off spots, made a flying start with Barnes having a header saved by Federici and also shooting wide from close range.
Australian Federici also denied an acrobatic effort from Vicente as the visitors were forced on to the back foot.
But Reading snatched the lead when Harte's free-kick took a big deflection and left goalkeeper Peter Brezovan no chance.
Vicente lifted a shot over after a well-worked move but Brezovan had to be at his best to turn away a header from Noel Hunt.
The home team, who had a string of other penalty appeals, were given the opportunity to pull level when Barnes was brought down by Alex Pearce, only to have his spot-kick saved by Federici.
Federici pulled off another fine save before the hour when he denied Craig Mackail-Smith, before Pearce headed on to the bar late on as Reading came close to doubling their advantage.
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "It was a night of resilience and character. Brighton are a difficult side to play against, they had a lot of the ball and we had to hang in there.
"We have followed up a hard-fought win over Leeds with another win and all I'm thinking about now is the Southampton game.
"St Mary's will be the place to be on Friday, I'm sure."
Brighton manager Gus Poyet: "I take huge encouragement from this performance. If we keep the same players fit and if we add some more key, important players, us going to the Premier League will just be a matter of time.
"If I were a fan I would pay for a ticket to watch Brighton. Vicente is a player who does something special, the team play quick and pass the ball."
"If we play as we did against Reading, we will win games. We are capable of doing it. As long as we are technically sound we will be a very difficult team to play against."