Didn’t actually have that much to do, with Bristol City only managing the three shots on target all game, and can’t be faulted for the goal. Distribution again wasn’t great, but not as poor as it has been in recent weeks.
Chris Gunter: 6
Confident defensively and protected the right side of Reading’s back four nicely, but had to be better going forwards. Although he got forward well - more readily than Blackett for me - he looked indecisive in the final third and his crossing was temperamental.
Michael Morrison: 7
Solid at the back and won plenty in the air to keep Reading solid under City pressure. Went on a few uncharacteristically ambitious, Harry Maguire-esque forward runs from the back to put Reading on the front foot, with one winning a corner that should have ultimately been converted by Ejaria.
Liam Moore: 6
Strong showing, helped keep things tight at the back throughout the game.
Tyler Blackett: 5
Much of Bristol City’s better attacking play came down his flank, with the away side finding space there too easily for me. Offensively, he could have got up in support of Obita down the left wing more quickly, with Reading needing that overlapping option more readily if they were to break down City.
John Swift: 4
Swift has, for the most part, adjusted well to playing as a deep-lying playmaker in this side, but he’s still prone to serious off days when the opposition know how to counter him. This game was one such day. He had noticeably less space in which to operate against Bristol City, which nullified his effectiveness on the ball, but that seemed to affect his all-round game too.
Swift was lacking in focus and confidence, giving the ball away cheaply numerous times. It was a frustrating evening for him, but you need him to be able to respond by keeping his attention when doing the basics of retaining possession. Poor corners too - he hit the first man too often.
My man of the match, he gave Reading presence in the middle of the park that would have been badly missed had it not been there. Won the ball back well, kept it nicely and even attempted some eyecatching long-range passes to pick out teammates out wide.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of someone like Pele. Reading have struggled badly in recent years to get a convincing (ideally ball-playing) holding midfielder, but at the moment that’s not a problem - even when the rest of the team is playing poorly.
Michael Olise: 6
Off the back of a tough game at the City Ground, in which he didn’t really have the space in which to properly express himself, he had the same against Bristol City. Breaking down a well-drilled, well-organised side proved to be difficult for him, as although he got onto the ball well enough he didn’t really do enough with it for me. He’s certainly got the technical ability, as shown by some lovely crossfield passes - and a ball over the top that almost played in Obita - but his decision making in the final third needs to improve if he’s to have more impact in matches like this.
Worked hard defensively, and one moment in the first half when Diedhiou threatened to break into the box - only to be harried by Olise all the way to the touchline - showed the developing defensive side of the youngster’s game.
Ovie Ejaria: 4
A harsh mark perhaps, but one that I think is warranted. Ejaria was again playing in the number ten role against City, and so was the most obvious ‘creator in chief’ for Reading on the night, but he was anonymous. That’s partly down to what seems to be a low level of confidence, and partly down to having less space in which to work in the middle of the pitch, but he’s still got to adapt better and be the game-changing spark Reading need.
Not that long ago, after each match you could think of at least a few eye-catching moments from Ejaria, but lately (and indeed on Tuesday) I’ve struggled. He missed a great chance in the second half from a corner that was headed down to him, but blazed over from a few yards out.
Jordan Obita: 5
Again used as an out-and-out left winger, Obita was steady but didn’t do enough to stretch or get in behind City. One tantalising ball, flashed across the face of goal in the second half, was just out of Puscas’ reach. Poor corners.
George Puscas: 5
Puscas had a tough time of it on Tuesday night, not getting into the game anything like as much as he should as a lone striker, failing to either make things happen himself or get the chances needed in front of goal. The TTE team discussed what this should be blamed on after the match, with Jonny Williams saying Puscas looks like he doesn’t want to be here and doesn’t work hard enough.
For me though, although that’s partially true (Puscas should work harder as a lone striker), the Romanian just didn’t get the service or support. There’s only so much a forward can do when they’re left isolated when the team doesn’t have possession, and the ball doesn’t come their way when the team does have possession.
When Puscas was involved, he was ok. He brought others into the game nicely on a few occasions and almost got in on goal when spinning a defender and bursting into space in the first half, but on the whole didn’t trouble a well-organised Robins defence.
Sam Baldock: 5
Worked hard but struggled against Bristol City’s physical defenders so had little impact when the ball was played into him. Couldn’t get on the end of anything over the top either.
Yakou Meite: 6
Put himself about really well and caused problems with his direct running and power. Hit the woodwork and went close with a difficult late chance that he pulled wide of the far post. After starting on Saturday and coming off the bench on Tuesday evening, he may well be in line for a start on Friday evening at Cardiff.
Sone Aluko: 5
Didn’t get into the game and looked ponderous in possession.
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