Not that troubled by a Leeds United side that didn’t put many shots on target, and I can’t really fault him for the goal. A few moments where I thought he could have been more dominant in his area, such as punching a cross when he could have caught it, but no major worries.
Chris Gunter: 6
A solid return to first-team action for the Welshman, who didn’t look at all out of place in Reading’s very defensive back five. Generally solid defensively, and to my memory wasn’t exposed as he has been previously, but he gets marked down for a lack of attacking impact.
Beyond a nice first-half cross that almost found Pucas, he didn’t offer enough in the final third. That wasn’t really going to be the focus of his evening (defensive safety first), but you still want more from your wingback.
In this regard, Reading badly missed Andy Yiadom’s dynamism and willingness to charge hell for leather up the pitch, but overall Gunter certainly did enough to show that he’s a valuable option this season.
Matt Miazga: 7
As with the other centre backs, he had a very solid evening, keeping it tight at the back without giving much away. I haven’t put them above a 7/10 due to Leeds generally not offering much cutting edge in the final third.
Michael Morrison: 7
See Miazga. Probably should have done better with a second-half chance though when the ball fell to him from a free kick, but he slashed at it and blazed the ball well over the bar.
Liam Moore: 7
See the other two defenders. When there’s not much to say about defenders bar ‘they defended what came at them really well’, that’s always a good sign. A lack of major errors or worries says a lot in its own regard.
Omar Richards: 6
Largely the same as Gunter, although he picked up a yellow card in the first half for a tactical foul to prevent a counter. He’s looked more confident in other games though, particularly going forwards. Cut out a Leeds chance early on in the second half with a well-timed tackle after it looked like they’d broken through.
Andy Rinomhota: 7
An energetic, combative performance in the middle of the park, Rino covered the defence well from his now-regular role as a destroyer at the base of midfield. Although he had a few chances to drive up the pitch with the ball as he likes to, he was generally restricted to defensive duties.
Brushed off a second-half injury (at time of writing I don’t know what it was, but it was minor) to get almost all the game before being replaced by Garath McCleary. Jeered by the visiting supporters for being a “soft southern bastard” despite being born in Leeds.
John Swift: 6
Generally looked comfortable on the ball and had some great touches, but was also guilty of the odd sloppy pass and overall didn’t create enough. Then again, against one of the best sides in the division it was always a tall order for him to do that. A mixed bag of set pieces, with one (a free kick from far out parried away by the goalie) directly preceding the Leeds break that won the game.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
As with the other midfielders, he had to be more restrained offensively, but he still showed some absolutely magical moments on the ball that are by now a trademark of his game. In the first half he danced past a defender or two to break into the box, and repeated the trick in the second.
Although that’s enough to push him up to a 7/10, with Ejaria making a good contribution in the midfield, I still want to see more end product in the final third seeing as he’s now generally the third-highest player on the pitch. He’ll get there though.
George Puscas: 5
Although he worked hard, for me he didn’t get into the game well enough. Had some loose touches more often than he would have liked when trying to hold the ball up, and didn’t do much in the final third. One moment in the second half summed his evening up: getting in down the right, taking on a defender from wide, but putting a wild cross out for a goal kick.
His finishing gets a lot of criticism, but for me his all-round game needs plenty of work too. To be fair though, that was more exposed in a game when he was playing deeper as the support act to Meite - himself typically the focal point. That withdrawn role isn’t to Puscas’ strength, as he’s generally better at getting in behind, or at least trying to run at a defence.
Yakou Meite: 5
Again, he worked hard, and that shouldn’t go unnoted on an evening when Reading really needed work rate in Sam Baldock’s absence. Winning a corner out of nothing to kickstart a bright spell for Reading in the first half springs to mind.
But offensively he couldn’t get into the game well enough as Reading’s often lone striker. His hold-up play was poor - OK at times but generally not enough to bring other teammates into the game.
For me he’s not a classic centre forward as he lacks the technical ability, but on nights like this he still needs to be judged on what he made happen for the team, and that was minimal.
Lucas Boye: 6
Looked bright in the final third without creating much. Linked up well with Ejaria in his role playing off Meite. Probably worth starting on Saturday given the lack of impact from Puscas and Meite recently.
Danny Loader: N/A
Not enough to make an impact after coming on on the 86th minute.
Garath McCleary: N/A
Ditto Loader, having got a matter of seconds at the end of the game.
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