Overall this was a really bad day at the office for Reading. No-one really shone as an individual on a day when the side badly needed a talisman to produce a moment of magic to lift the team’s overall performance.
Usually we can get that from John Swift and/or Ovie Ejaria, but their absence did seem to have a profound negative impact beyond simply Reading lacking two creative players. We had that at Wigan Athletic too, despite the late turnaround and comfortable nature of the win, and it suggests to me that this squad can lack drive and initiative in the absence of its key personnel.
However, that wasn’t the entire story. There was a worrying sloppiness, ill discipline and lack of concentration from players individually that shouldn’t be in players’ performances regardless of how the team lines up.
As ever, vote for your man of the match at the bottom of the article.
Can’t really fault him for any of the goals themselves, particularly the first - a bizarre deflecting off Morrison, and second - a beautifully hit free kick into the far top corner.
Matt Miazga: 5
Playing just the first 45 minutes meant that Miazga wasn’t on the pitch for Reading’s difficult second half, and he wasn’t too bad defensively before the break. Poor distribution at times though. Put a header just wide in the first half when he probably should have done better.
Michael Morrison: 4
A tale of two halves really. Solid in the first half, despite the freak deflection off him past Rafael for the opener, putting in some key blocks at the back, but he went to pieces in the second half, gifting Birmingham City some great opportunities. On one occasion his pass at the back was intercepted far too easily, letting an away player fire just wide, and and other he mistimed a one-on-one challenge allowing a forward to get in behind.
Liam Moore: 5
Hit the bar with a header in the second half at 1-2. No specific errors in the same way as other defenders, but could have been more imposing and shown better distribution.
Andy Yiadom: 4
Far below his usual standards, Yiadom was sloppy in possession, caught out of position defensively and didn’t have enough of an impact in the final third. The wingbacks seem to have been much more restrained in recent weeks, and Mark Bowen must find a way of undoing that.
Andy Rinomhota: 5
Worked hard in the middle as per, but on days like this you want to see him take the initiative more and make things happen for Reading going forwards, which he didn’t. He’s not naturally the most creative guy, but we still didn’t see enough of his forward runs to push the team up the pitch, despite having Pele alongside him to cover.
Given a second straight start in the absence of John Swift, Pele put in a decent (albeit still flawed performance in the middle of the park). In the first half at least he looked noticeably sharper in possession and out of it, although he was bypassed too easily in the second half. Cut out a one-on-one chance after the break after Morrison’s mistimed challenge allowed Birmingham City in.
However, his set pieces were very dangerous and created some of Reading’s best chances. He set up Yakou Meite for the equaliser, and it was his cross that Liam Moore thundered against the bar in the second half. On a day when Reading generally struggled in the final third, Pele’s supply was important.
Garath McCleary: 4
Again essentially playing the Ovie Ejaria role in the midfield, McCleary didn’t get into the game enough in the first half. He struggles to have an impact in possession in tighter areas, instead needing more space to work in. Did however set up Meite with a nice bit of skill at 0-0.
Generally played out wide in the second half, and didn’t get into the game well enough. Gave away the foul for the second goal (a free kick) quite cheaply.
Omar Richards: 4
He seemed to be somewhat short on confidence throughout the game, meaning he was pretty sloppy all round. Didn’t get forward well enough, and gave the ball away too cheaply just before Birmingham City’s third goal.
Yakou Meite: 5
Really poor performance that’s bumped up to a 5/10 due to the goal. Meite just doesn’t have enough of a presence as a striker, unable to hold the ball up and get into the game, as I’ve had to say various times before in player ratings.
Even when he was pushed out wide in the second half - probably a stronger position for him - he didn’t make enough happen. One moment was particularly annoying, when he cut inside from the right onto his left foot, still some way out and with not a lot of space to work in, he foolishly blazed into row Z.
George Puscas: 5
Worked hard off the ball as he typically does and seemed to hold the ball up better, but still wasn’t involved enough in the final third and was starved of service. It’ll have been a particularly frustrating afternoon for him, wanting to build on last Saturday’s hat trick, but he didn’t get the supply to do so.
Lucas Boye: 4
Really poor. Gave the ball away far too cheaply and conceded silly fouls regularly. I wonder if it’s that lack of self discipline that prevents him from starting more games.
Lucas Joao: 5
Although he did score a consolation goal, his miss at 1-2 is what really came back to haunt Reading. Yiadom set him up with a low cross, Joao just needed to pick his spot, but he blazed just over the bar. In those big moments you need your £5m striker to come up trumps - not in the dying seconds.
Charlie Adam: 7
I’m perhaps being kind here with a 7/10, but Adam did everything he was asked to do in his cameo at the end of the game. He got the ball forward a lot quicker than his teammates, was the only one capable of picking a pass as Bowen said post-match, and even got an assist for Joao’s consolation. His highlight however was a glorious crossfield pass to play in Yiadom who then set up Joao.
Were Adam fit enough to play more, I’m sure he’d be in the starting XI now.
Who was your man of the match against Birmingham City? Vote below or through this link.