Alex McCarthy - 5
Once again, McCarthy's distribution was poor. It'd be unfair to expect a goalie to laser-guide a pass onto the Pog's head from every goal-kick, but most of them need to be clearances that our strikers can challenge for, and unfortunately McCarthy just didn't do that last night. His confidence seems to dipping too, and recently I haven't been convinced that he's in as much control of his box as he used to. Asides from that, he made some good saves and can't really be blamed for the Barnsley goals. Some would say he should have got back into his goal for the opener, but in that sort of situation he'd always be in no-man's land wherever he positioned himself.
Chris Gunter - 4
Gunter just didn't look his usual self last night, and played without the assuredness that we've come to expect of him this season. The less said about the back-pass the better, because it really was bizarre to play keep-ball when the opposition were pressuring the defence as intensely as they were. Unlike Obita on the opposite flank, he rarely managed to get forward and deliver balls into the box as he usually does.
Alex Pearce - 3 (+1)
Coming from a centre-half as experienced as Alex Pearce (he's played more games for Reading than any of our other defenders last night), his ability to defend seemed to desert him last night. The last two Barnsley goals came from his side - Barnsley's inside-left channel, and were both results of a lack of closing down. On the ball, Pearce lacked any confidence - personally, I was more worried when our centre backs had the ball than when Barnsley were forming attacks themselves. He came close in the second half with a terrific header from a Jordan Obita free-kick that looked destined for the top corner, but was denied by the Barnsley stopper. I've given him a bonus point because, as I mentioned in my match report, he was the only player in the entire squad to come over to the fans after the game. It's only a gesture to do so, but it shows that the players sympathise with the fans after a poor result.
Kaspars Gorkss - 3
Gorkss looked even shakier than Alex Pearce last night, lacking composure on the ball and frequently whacking it straight out of play. His night was summed up during an attempt at keep-ball at the back, trying to pass to... I don't think anyone knows really... with the ball rolling out for a Barnsley corner.
Jordan Obita - 5
Another one of those performances from Obita where a decent effort was let down by other players. For someone playing out of position, he always looks surprisingly calm on the ball. However, last night some seriously shoddy passing at the back put him under pressure, and didn't get into the game as much as we've seen recently. That said, the first half saw him get forward down the left well in support of McCleary, but couldn't make anything happen.
Hope Akpan - 3
I think it's fair to say that Akpan is a confidence player. At his most confident, when he's fired up and knows what he wants to do, he's very effective at this level. However, as of late, he's suffered from a serious lack of composure (a phrase that in fairness applies to half this team on the basis of last night). Against Barnsley, his inexperience and lack of comfort with the ball at his feet showed repeatedly, with a particularly poor set of passes. In his defence, he's played an awful lot of games this calendar year and needs a break that he won't get due to the current injury list. However, as much as I like the guy, I question whether or not he's up to this level of football.
Jobi McAnuff - 4
Hardly the best of games from the Reading skipper, who looked very much out of his comfort zone in the centre of midfield. He struggled to impose himself on the game and looked most at home when driving forward with the ball in his usual winger fashion, but overall this game passed him by. His experience just didn't show last night, and Barnsley more or less had control of the midfield.
Garath McCleary - 5
Pretty anonymous throughout the game, but had a few flashes of creativity that deserve a mention. The main threat early on, running at the Barnsley back four, it almost paid off after a solo effort in the first half. Apart from that, he struggled to get into the game to any great degree. The decision to play him down the left seems to tone down his effectiveness - he can't get in behind a defence when he's having to cut inside onto his right foot.
Royston Drenthe - 5 (my man of the match)
At times, Royston looked like the only one last night willing to take the game to the opposition. That was to highly questionable results, seeing as he didn't really come close, but seeing someone on the ball running at a defence and then having a go from distance at least shows the fans that there's someone on the team that's trying. That said, he passed up one of the Royals' best chances of the night - a loose ball on the edge of the box that he could only hammer wide when he should have worked the goalie at the least.
Nick Blackman - 3
I can't really remember Blackman doing anything last night, such was his anonymity. He started on the right wing, but seemed to disappear gradually as the game wore on. Perhaps should have done better with a chance down the inside-right channel when he lobbed over the bar with his weaker right foot.
Pavel Pogrebnyak - 5
Big Pav looked a lonely, isolated figure last night, with minimal service to feed on. The spell of play leading up to and including the penalty was probably his only meaningful attacking contribution, although the spot kick was very well taken, right into the bottom corner.
Adam Le Fondre (on for Nick Blackman, 58 mins) - 5
Brought on immediately after Barnsley's third goal, Alfie couldn't get into the game. Frequently having to drop deep to be involved at all, he didn't get any chances in the box except for at the end when he couldn't quite get hold of a Garath McCleary cross.
Hal Robson-Kanu (on for Royston Drenthe, 71 mins) - 5
Little time to make an impact, and the game was pretty much gone by the time he came on the pitch. Had the odd run forwards, but barely involved.
That's how I saw it, but what do you think? Feel free to vote for your man of the match in our poll below, and give us your thoughts in the comments section.