I can’t really blame him for any of the goals, and in truth he kept the score down in the second half, having not been troubled in the first. Saved a poor penalty at 0-0 with his feet and later kept out a close-range effort with a great acrobatic stop to his right.
Tomas Esteves: 5
He doesn’t lack energy or enthusiasm, but does lack decision making. Given that he’s a young guy new to senior football that’s understandable, but it meant Reading’s right-sided attack wasn’t refined enough. Put one really good cross onto the head of Joao, which should have been converted, but otherwise didn’t come up with enough. Paunovic eventually opted to swap him out for Andy Yiadom.
Michael Morrison: 6
A decent enough night for Morrison, with the defensive problems coming from elsewhere. A bit ponderous in possession earlier on in the game, when Preston pressed Reading more and restricted our play, but without making any critical mistakes.
Tom McIntyre: 4
His lack of match practice showed in the second half with some poor mistakes. Brought down a Preston forward for the penalty, although it was saved, and badly misjudged the flight of a long ball over the top for 2-0.
Omar Richards: 5
Should have done more for Preston’s first goal, when Sinclair nipped in past Richards to guide the ball past Rafael. Otherwise got forward well down the left, as he’s been doing more regularly in recent weeks.
Josh Laurent: 6
Tidy in possession in that deeper role in front of the defence. Kept the ball moving well enough and provided a good, balanced base for Reading’s midfield.
Andy Rinomhota: 5
Another game in which I don’t really have anything clearly good or bad to say about him either way. It probably looks a bit harsh to give him 5/10 when Laurent’s got a 6/10, but I just didn’t see enough from Rino, whereas Laurent filled his role pretty well. I wanted to see more from Rino, playing higher up than his midfield partner, in terms of seizing the game by the scruff of the neck in the middle and being positive in possession. Too quiet a performance overall.
Michael Olise: 6
One of Reading’s more creative players on the night, although it took a while for him to come into his own. Came more central later on in the first half and that coincided with Reading looking more threatening in the final third.
Had a decent chance in the second half when a one-two ended with him firing over from range. Didn’t really kick on though and was eventually withdrawn for Baldock.
Alfa Semedo: 5
Again played as Reading’s number 10, but didn’t offer enough in possession. Perhaps needed to get a bit closer to Joao to have more of an impact, given his lack of alternative threats, eg range of passing or outright pace.
Seemed to be better out of possession, winning the ball back nicely a few times. Reading either need to try Semedo deeper, perhaps in Rino’s spot, or take him out for a better fit in the final third. He doesn’t have the guile or creativity to play as a number 10.
Sone Aluko: 6
Played mostly on the left for Reading, and was involved in some of the side’s best chances in the first half. Put in some good crosses before the break, with one of those finding Joao to head at the ‘keeper, and he himself showed some really good footwork to create a close-range chance that the goalie kept out. Quieter in the second half and withdrawn for Puscas.
Lucas Joao: 4
Passed up some really good opportunities that played a key part in Reading failing to win. He was clean through on goal in the second half and should have pulled the trigger before the Preston defender raced back to cut out the chance. Soon after, he glanced a header wide from a really good Esteves cross.
It’s very odd. Given that Joao’s been in good scoring form this season, you’d have backed him to bury those opportunities, but for whatever reason he lacked the composure and, unfortunately, Reading were punished for it.
George Puscas: 5
Introduced for Olise with Reading trailing 1-0, right before it became 2-0. The game was pretty much gone as soon as he was settled in, although he did have a good chance with his head at the back post that he put wide.
Sam Baldock: 5
I wasn’t too sure on what his role was. Replaced Aluko, but seemed to sometimes play out wide and other times through the middle as a third striker. His introduction seemed to be more one of desperation than specific tactical idea, and his lack of impact - unable to have much of an effect against a hard-to-break-down Preston defence - reflected that.
Andy Yiadom: 5
The game was gone when he came on. Didn’t do anything particularly good or bad of note.
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