Emiliano Martinez: 8
My man of the match - I can’t really blame him for either goal, but he did pull off some fantastic saves to keep the score down and was commanding in the air all afternoon. Also played out effectively despite Boro’s high press which was particularly aggressive at points in the first half.
Please stay, Emi.
Andy Yiadom: 3
A really, really rough afternoon for Yiadom. He gave the ball away for the equaliser, putting it on a plate with a poor headed clearance for Lewis Wing to smash home, also conceding the penalty which would ultimately win the home side the game.
Offensively he got into some really good positions, particularly down the right, but wasted pretty much all of them. Better attacking quality to pick out would have helped, but Yiadom still needed to do a lot more with the opportunities that came his way. Moved to left back when Gunter was subbed off.
Matt Miazga: 7
Dominant at the back, with his defensive highlight being a marvellously well-timed challenge in the second half in his own area. Bonus marks for winding up the home fans by popping an inflatable crocodile in the first half (something I never thought I’d write in a player ratings article) and making the most of a knock, thereby annoying them even further.
Liam Moore: 7
Similarly solid defensively, and played out from the back confidently as per usual.
Chris Gunter: 4
He’s been on good form recently, but looked ineffective against Middlesbrough in his left-back role. Gunter just isn’t as good at keeping the ball under pressure as other defenders in this squad, and Boro exposed that with some aggressive pressing in the first half.
Generally low on confidence, which didn’t help him in a tough first half, and didn’t do enough going forwards. Incredibly he was put through on goal in the second half in the inside left channel, but went for the pass rather than a decisive finish.
Lewis Baker: 7
Kept things moving really nicely with his range of passing, composure on the ball and ability to keep it under pressure. Didn’t have much to work with in the way of forward runs to pick out though.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
Typically combative and energetic in the middle without creating much going forwards. Shunted out to right back in the second half after Gunter’s withdrawal.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
Perhaps a harsh scoreline but, for me, if we’re going to rely on anyone in that midfield three to create something - particularly in John Swift’s absence - it should be Ejaria... and he didn’t. Worked hard as per, but not enough influence in the final third.
Garath McCleary: 5
In Modou Barrow’s absence he was essentially the creative spark in the final third, but he wasn’t really able to expose any weaknesses in the Boro defence. On the occasions that he did get a clearish run at goal, he wasn’t sharp enough to work that bit of space and really test the goalie. Simply put, a younger McCleary would have done a lot better.
Sam Baldock: 5
Held the ball up well in the opening stages, but faded as the first half went on, looking less and less effective. Eventually withdrawn for Harriott.
On the whole, he’s worth keeping around as an alternative striking option for next season. Even if he’s not got the same outright attacking quality as others, he nonetheless works his socks off, does the donkey work and uses his experience well.
Danny Loader: 7
Not a bad way to open your account for Reading, hey? His fantastic first-half strike showed him finally marrying his undoubted ability with a spark of confidence that had previously eluded him. He didn’t contribute too much otherwise, although that was always going to be tough against a notoriously well-drilled Middlesbrough side.
I found his positional sense pretty interesting too. He’s not an out-an-out striker, instead preferring to drop deep and get on the ball. Whether that’s best achieved as a number ten behind a lone forward, or as a deep-lying Robert Firmino-esque ‘false nine’, is for Jose Gomes to decide.
Callum Harriott: 5
Didn’t have much of an effect in the final third; fairly anonymous. With his contract up in the summer, you wonder if he’s being quietly edged towards the door.
Josh Barrett: 6
Got onto the ball a decent amount - typically in deeper positions, but looked pretty confident and composed in possession. Also got into some nice positions in the final third even if his end product wasn’t quite there.
Seemed to line up as a winger on the left side of a 4-2-3-1, so it’ll be interesting to see if his future is more in that position or as a more central midfielder.
Michael Olise: 5
Like Harriott, he didn’t have much of an impact. But it was nonetheless a good experience for him to get some more minutes in a tough away match.
Who was your man of the match against Middlesbrough? Vote below, or through this link.