Sam Walker: 7
Not at fault for the first goal which came from a lucky deflection and probably couldn’t have done much more for the second. However, he did well on a few occasions to keep the score down, a diving save at the beginning of the second half one such example. Should stay in the side ahead of Mannone now that he’s taken this first-team opportunity.
Chris Gunter: 5
Below par, but not quite as poor as he has been in previous games. Got forward pretty well in the first half but needs to sharpen up his crossing. Also has to be better defensively - gave a chance away in the first half by conceding possession cheaply, and arguably could have pushed out more to get in the way of the shot that would be deflected in for Preston’s second.
Tiago Ilori: 7
A solid defensive performance from Ilori who also came away with his first goal for the club, getting onto Aluko’s cross with an unexpected poacher’s instinct.
Liam Moore: 7
Calm and composed as ever, and was unlucky to see the ball deflect off him past Walker for Preston’s first equaliser. No obvious errors.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Got forward well down his unfavoured left side and was perhaps harshly booked for a perceived dive in the area. Generally looks comfortable at left back, but you can’t help but think he’ll do better when/if he goes back to the right.
Sone Aluko: 5
Largely poor, and would have been a 4/10 were it not for his well-worked assist at the start of the second half. Out-foxed the Preston defence by taking a shot corner, getting the ball back from Swift and squaring for Ilori.
Liam Kelly: 6
Wasn’t completely error-free, but did look better on the ball than he has done this season.
Leandro Bacuna: 6
Didn’t have to do too much to grab Reading’s winner, just tucking the ball home from close range after Josh Sims did all the hard work. Did well for the most part as the more defensive of the side’s two central midfielders, but can improve in his positioning.
Yakou Meite: 5
Worked hard but didn’t impact the game enough. He’ll have better days.
John Swift: 7
A lovely assist for the opener, Swift deftly flicked the ball over the top for Baldock to smash home. Also put in a naughty backheel to play in Aluko in the build-up for the second. Both examples are the kind of confident creativity that we need to see more of from the playmaker.
Wasn’t always in the game, but generally looked sharper and more assured in his free central role. My man of the match.
Sam Baldock: 6
Baldock got his first goal from open play thanks to a smart bit of play, latching onto Swift’s lob before hitting a powerful shot past the ‘keeper; that should be great for his confidence. On the whole he worked hard but, starved of the ball for large parts of the game, he wasn’t involved as much as he would have hoped. Shunted out to the left wing late in the game and adapted pretty well.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson: 5
Worked hard to lead the line in the closing quarter of an hour but had little attacking impact, hence a 5 rather than a 6.
Josh Sims: 7
Creative players are in the team to come up with a moment of magic, and that’s exactly what Sims did for the winning goal. A gorgeous chipped assist with his weaker foot put the ball on a plate for Bacuna who duly obliged. Should start next time out.
Andy Rinomhota: N/A
A good day for the academy graduate who got game time in the absence of David Meyler and Saeid Ezatolahi, but he wasn’t on for long enough for us to fairly grade him. Hope to see him in the matchday squad a few more times though.
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