Well, that was a pleasure to watch, wasn't it? A game in which the Royals' blistering start and a superb Adam Federici penalty save saw them run out comfortable winners in the end means many fans go into the summer full of hope for what may happen next season.
Of the XI that began the game, Federici, Pearce and Karacan could well all see their contracts expire this summer. It goes without saying, but if Federici were allowed to leave this summer we should report Hammond & co to the police. It would be criminal to let him leave for free.
In this game, Federici only had to make four saves, kept a clean sheet and most impressively denied Darren Bent from scoring from the penalty spot after some clumsy defending from Jordan Obita.
Jem Karacan began the game in midfield, captaining the side for what may well end up being the final time. The line-ups suggested a standard 4-3-3 formation, but in terms of general player positions it was a 4-2-3-1, with our Turkish academy graduate starting in the attacking midfield position.
So, how did he do? Well he had three shots, of which none were on target. He did make one key pass though, was fouled twice and was caught offside once. He attempted a miserly 14 passes, at an accuracy of 57.1%. Defensively he made two tackles and one clearance. Not his most impressive game, but he showed he could do a job as the most attacking of the midfield three, even if his attacking contributions left much to be desired.
Alex Pearce, one of the most divisive players on the books at the Madejski Stadium. Worth keeping around, not good enough, or very good Championship defender? Who knows, but statistically this game he made six clearances, one interception and one foul, whilst his passing accuracy of 68.8% was the fifth best on the team, ahead of the likes of Norwood, Karacan and defensive partner Hector.
He also made one key pass. Solid enough, and whilst I'm not convinced he'll ever be more than a solid Championship centre back, if we can agree a reasonable deal I'd have no qualms at keeping him around if he can consistently provide these sorts of figures.
Everyone knows its tough to get praise out of our stiff Scotsman, Steve Clarke, but Tarique Fosu-Henry earned it when he replaced the injured Jack Stacey in the 29th minute. The winger made his presence known, with five shots, three on target, one blocked and one disappointing effort that dribbled a yard of so wide of the post.
His presence was mostly made known by his joy at taking a man on. He completed 7 of his 10 attempted take-ons, and was fouled twice.
He looked a real prospect, and with competition for places likely to open up on the wings this summer, young Fosu-Henry may be tempted to feel he can rival fellow academy graduate Jack Stacey for a first team spot in the coming years.
McCleary Back To His Best?
On the opposite wing to Fosu-Henry was one of the options for man of the match, Garath McCleary. The winger didn't hit full stride this season, but in this game he showed that he still has what it takes to be an important player for Reading.
As you can see from the below graphic, the majority of passes were aimed down his right flank, whilst the opposite side looks sparse in comparison.
The scorer of our penalty also had the joint top pass accuracy with Chalobah (75%). He had a big effect in the defensive phase of the game, winning three tackles, blocking one shot and making one clearance as well as his well taken penalty. Statistically, he was our Man of the Match for the game...
Hector Impresses Again
Michael Hector is another rival for that title. He began the season as a David Luiz-lite defender who didn't seem to understand that his job, first and foremost, was defending. However, since Clarke has come into the club he has improved immeasurably, and become more of a Thiago Silva than David Luiz.
Defensively, he made three tackles, one interception, nine clearances and played four accurate long balls from the back (though admittedly he did attempt 14!). On top of that, he scored with a cool finish from a corner kick that dropped kindly to him. If he continues to improve in the same manner, it won't be long before a middling Premier League club consider taking a punt on him, given his age and rapid improvements on the pitch.
Let's just hope he continues to improve next season, as Steve Clarke begins to rebuild a side that he hopes will be fighting for promotion. Hector will be vital to any chance of doing so.
All stats courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka. Cheers.