As debuts go, this could be the most auspicious of any Reading keeper in history. Largely untroubled for the 90 minutes, the Brazilian recruit from Serie A was a commanding presence and did make a fine low save when called upon as Wycombe pressed in the second half. He also showed a willingness to bark out orders when required and made no errors at all under the high ball. What followed, however, was the stuff of legends – two smart saves in the penalty shoot out led to a comfortable victory in that dramatic play within a play, while antics on the goal-line including a frantic sideways samba display and a pointing to the heavens that would have shamed David Luiz were all met with full throated gusto by the travelling support. A hero is born.
Omar Richards: 6
Not everything that the left-back attempts comes off and he appears gauche positionally at times – but the sheer lung bursting requirements of the wing back role is something that his fitness is very much equal to. In that, he’s much more suited to the formation than Tyler Blackett and as we wait for the former Manchester United man and Jordan Obita to come back into contention, Richards is proving to be an able deputy. Perhaps he needs to be bolder still – he is one of the quicker players in the team and a first half overlap right to the byline that set up George Pușcaș was a real highlight. On the night, Wycombe offered little of an attacking threat on their right, leaving him with a lot of room to move into.
Andy Rinomhota: 5
Rinomhota has played as a conventional right back before but using him as a right wing back and expecting him to be active up and down the full 105 metres of Adams Park didn’t suit his natural ability to be calm in possession and to pull the strings from his usual midfield base. Too often, momentum foundered as Reading attacked from the right and this goes down as the major tactical boo-boo of José Gomes’ decision making on this occasion. Whether the manager will restore him for the Cardiff match, potentially at the expense of new signing Pele, will be fascinating to see.
Liam Moore: 6
Generally comfortable and although he is more suited to the right-hand side in general, despite many a deft and impressive performance on the left – my doubts about the correct calibration of his partnership with Matt Miazga are due more to the latter looking more comfortable on the right-hand side too. Here, he was accompanied by two central defenders in a brand-new experiment for a competitive match, largely performing well, and while it was at his post that Alex Samuel scored the opening goal; the player’s small stature would indicate that he probably wasn’t Moore’s man to pick up.
Michael Morrison: 6
These ratings are peppered with a lot of sixes for while a number of players did everything that was asked for them, that the opponents fielded a second-string strike force minus the physical presence of Fred Onyedinma and Adebayo Akinfenwa until the final minutes would make sevens over generous. That said, Morrison is an interesting case – his career at Reading has seen him settle in seamlessly so far, from the moment he scored against Chelsea in pre-season. His experience is vital and being called upon to play the central, marshalling role in a three-man back line marks him out as a leader. We all purred with delight when Matt Miazga returned to the Mad Stad on loan last month – but make no mistake, Morrison is going to push the Chelsea man all the way for a starting place and, injuries or otherwise, may well supplant him in the manager’s plans.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Playing on the left-hand side of the central defensive trio, the youngster did well, putting in a couple of very impressive block tackles and generally looking very assured beyond his years. Having two of last season’s Championship captains alongside him will have helped of course, while the absence for the most part of the considerable physical presence of Akinfenwa will have provided an easier evening than expected, he can be happy with his night’s work. The only question comes over his size – I’m sure he would tower over us all if we saw him in real life, but he certainly looks like he could fill out a bit. Still young, there is time for that.
A good first half and by all accounts, a big improvement on his display at Hull, The Guinea-Bissau international was less impactful after the interval and while his ranginess is useful in breaking up the play, he occasionally sees nimbler players stumble under his feet, thus giving away fouls. More the issue is the competition for places in the midfield and was this an additional signing we don’t need? That might be the wrong conclusion – once the rigours of a 46-match campaign kick in and injuries start to bite, he could be more than useful and few of us were taken with Lewis Baker to start with.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
A welcome sight after his last-ditch arrival on transfer deadline day, the Liverpool loanee actually seems to have grown in stature since May. The traditional skill, elastic legs and close control are all there, yet wedded to a greater strength and greater confidence. Here, in the first half in particular, he was unplayable at times, with Wycombe simply unable to deprive him of the ball. He also got forward well into dangerous positions and provided a good foil to Charlie Adam. He faded a little after the break and may be slightly short of match fitness but he would be a very expensive signing should we want him on a permanent deal in the future.
Charlie Adam: 6
The Scot’s arrival was met with low expectations, not to mention mirth in certain quarters away from Berkshire. So far – and it is early – he has actually exceeded expectations. Here, his passing recalled that of former Royal Oliver Norwood, only in more dangerous areas, and he’s not afraid to want the ball in advanced positions, calmly negotiating the flailing boots and nippy tackles that come with being a creator. Adam can do clever slide rule passing as well as more expansive ‘Hollywood’ balls and while sometimes these will fly into touch, in the main he was a good link between midfield and attack, especially in the first twenty minutes when Reading dominated. Unlikely to ever last a full ninety, he may well be more effective starting a game and being replaced than vice versa. That presents a conundrum.
Lucas Boyé: 7
This man looks to be a thoroughbred and worked his socks off manfully in a very impressive first half display. Active across the front line, he could mainly be seen operating on the right, taking advantage of some clever Charlie Adam approach play to twice test Chairboy’s keeper Luke Allsop. The first, a fierce drive from an angle, would have done well to find its way into the net but the Argentinian might have done better with the second, a close ranger that he could have hit with more well. It’s the lithe class in possession and clever running that impressed in the main – although a knock saw him withdrawn at half-time for the second game in a row.
George Pușcaș – 6
The relief when a record signing hits the back of the net is tangible and how we roared when the Romanian scored at the second attempt, latching on to a John Swift through ball. In the main, the former Internazionale man was lively, dovetailing beautifully with Boyé at times and seen to be conversing with his fellow Serie A alumnus in the warm-up – presumably in Italian. Stocky, in common with many a player from his homeland, he occasionally dwelt too long before pulling the trigger and perhaps needs to think about using his left foot more. He was a willing runner after the long ball and did well to harry Wycombe’s impressive young centre backs.
Sam Baldock: 6
Good to see Baldock make an appearance as his finishing and adeptness at finding space between the lines could be useful after his 2018-9 was blighted by injury. That said and despite testing Allsop with a header, he struggled a little and didn’t have as much of an impact on the game as he would have liked. This was as much to do with Wycombe upping their game after the break and so there were less opportunities in forward areas by that point.
John Swift: 7
Very influential – and grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck at a point when Reading’s fortunes were sliding alarmingly. His ability to pick a pass was decisive when finding Pușcaș for the goal and he did very well in restoring the team’s piece of mind at a critical juncture. He does pretty much all that Charlie Adam does so will naturally start against Cardiff. An injury free season would allow us to make a proper judgement of his abilities and he converted his penalty expertly.
Danny Loader: N/A
Not on long enough to provide a mark but he did score the winning penalty.
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