Didn’t have too much to do in the way of saving shots, but was commanding at the back as we’ve come to expect. His highlight was certainly to deny Lewis Grabban in a one-on-one chance, when the forward broke through and threatened to take it past Rafael, but Reading’s ‘keeper was alert to the danger and won the duel. Otherwise, his kicking remains below par, which may not be as critical now as it was under the more possession-orientated Jose Gomes, but it’s still a weakness.
Chris Gunter: 6
Steady afternoon at right back for Gunter against his former club. Did well defensively but didn’t have as much of an impact in the final third as Blackett on the opposite flank.
Michael Morrison: 6
Solid at the back. Reading had a fair bit of pressure to deal with from Forest and Morrison repelled it well, organising the defence effectively. He and Moore are forming an effective partnership, and Forest were the latest opposition side to have not got much spare change out of them.
Liam Moore: 6
Did well against Grabban in the first half but got sloppier after the break. He was beaten too easily a few times on the left of Reading’s box, and gave possession up too cheaply on occasion. Still, on the whole a decent afternoon for him.
Tyler Blackett: 7
Got forward well down the left in support of Ovie Ejaria. I’ve had my doubts over Blackett as an attacking force due to his relative lack of pace and acceleration, but he’s shown recently how well he can make up for that, and Saturday was another example. His ability on the ball meant he linked up really well with his teammates down the left, typically with Ejaria, allowing him to get up the pitch through interplay rather than speed.
Could have had a goal and an assist of his own early on in the second half when Reading were on top. Flashed the ball across goal with a low cross that Yakou Meite could have done more to connect with, having earlier hit the post with a right-footed shot after cutting in.
Quiet but effective game, going about his business as a holding midfielder effectively, giving balance for the rest of the side. Shielded the defence well and the dirty work throughout.
Charlie Adam: 6
A much quieter game than we’ve seen from his recently. Adam kept the ball moving well enough in the middle, but didn’t influence the game enough in the final third.
Yakou Meite: 5
Wasn’t very effective against a well-organised Forest defence that typically didn’t offer him the room to run into that he needs to have an impact. Forced a fine save at the near post when he stole in behind in the first half, but should have done more to meet a viciously whipped low cross from Blackett in the second that just needed to be converted.
His touch was also poor at times, most notably including blazing a crossfield pass for Blackett into touch and giving away a cheap corner by misplacing a short pass to Gunter. I still think this is his strongest position, but his lack of general composure sometimes lets him down in games like this.
John Swift: 5
Not one of his better days. Swift lacked the creative edge we’ve come to expect from him recently, and was on a few occasions too careless in possession, giving the ball away and inviting pressure needlessly. Improved in the second half when Reading were on top, but faded in line with the rest of the team as the game progressed.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
Reading’s biggest threat on the afternoon, Ejaria looked lively throughout his 80 minutes on the pitch before being replaced due to injury. Although he’s probably better playing through the middle, he’s looking increasingly confident as a left winger in a 4-2-3-1. That was again the case against Forest, and he regularly did a great job of stretching the play by offering an option on the left, linking up well with the supporting Tyler Blackett and taking on defenders.
Sam Baldock: 5
Struggled to impose himself against Forest’s centre halves and didn’t properly get into the game. His best chance came really early on, doing well to slip in behind the Reds’ defence but unable to hit the target. That’s him at his most dangerous offensively, but the visitors’ organisation and willingness to defend deep meant he was afforded few chances to make the most of it.
It’s clear that, at this level at least, Baldock isn’t suited to playing up front on his own. As a support striker in a two-man partnership he’s ideal, but he lacks the presence to properly lead the line. Reading miss Lucas Joao already.
George Puscas: 6
Came on for Sam Baldock in a straight swap up top, becoming a lone frontman for the final half an hour or so of the game. Often had to drop deep to link the play up, rather than pushing higher up as a target man, and put himself about in that role well - I think he’s better suited to that than Baldock due to seemingly being stronger.
Didn’t get too many opportunities though, although he did force a comfortable save with an acrobatic volley at goal.
Jordan Obita: 7
Brought on for Charlie Adam in a tactical switch, going out to the left wing as he did against Blackpool in the FA Cup last Saturday. Forced the equaliser with a great cross from the left that was turned in past the ‘keeper. Deliveries like that are often more in hope than expectation, but can pay off big time.
Andy Rinomhota: N/A
Replaced Ovie Ejaria who was suffering from illness on 80 minutes. Not on the pitch long enough to have an impact on the game.
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