On first viewing I thought Luton’s goal was simply a great hit into the corner from Lua Lua, but really Rafael should have done better with a shot that was pretty much straight at him. It’s a huge shame because it denied Reading what would have been a hard-fought, well-earned clean sheet after shipping three at Brentford last time out.
Up until then Rafael had barely had anything to do, with Luton coming closest through a tame set-piece header that was put right at him. His kicking wasn’t great on an admittedly poor surface.
Tomas Esteves: 6
Wasn’t overly tested by Luton but had a pretty solid game at right back; he looks much more confident there than he did at left back last time out against Brentford. He didn’t have too many opportunities to push forward down his flank, particularly in the second half when Reading were focused on protecting the lead. Had one really good opportunity around 35 minutes in to release Baldock through the middle but got the pass wrong.
Tom Holmes: 7
A steady shift from Holmes who started at centre back for the first time in the league this season in Liam Moore’s absence. Had a fairly straightforward afternoon against a Luton side short on creativity, and almost went home with a clean sheet.
I’d be interested though to see if Holmes gets more game time here in weeks to come. He’s more accomplished as a centre back than a right back, so it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s brought back to this position anyway, especially with Morrison’s deal expiring in the summer.
Michael Morrison: 7
Same as Holmes: kept things tidy and organised at the back despite not being tested that much by the visitors. He was also in an unfamiliar position, being shifted over to the left with Holmes on his side, but didn’t look uncomfortable.
Tom McIntyre: 7
Opened his account with a lovely finish from Aluko’s corner, bursting into space at the near post well before converting. Overall he looked pretty comfortable in his new left-back role despite taking a knock in the first half, making a key block in the second. Almost gave a penalty away before the break with a strong challenge that the ref falsely decided was outside the area.
Andy Rinomhota: 7
Put himself about really well to protect the defence. Provided a level of energy and intensity that we’ve come to expect from him and played a big part in the away side’s inability to create quality chances even when pushing for a way back into the game in the second half.
Josh Laurent: 7
Similar thoughts to Rino. Laurent was a really imposing presence in midfield and even managed the odd drive upfield. Games like this are so much less stressful when you’ve got someone as commanding as Laurent in the DM role, doing the basics reliably well.
Sone Aluko: 7
Another good shift from a player that looks revitalised this season, and he came up with an assist for the first goal of the game when his corner found McIntyre’s run. Looked sharp in possession in the first half and set Ejaria free with a great long-range pass, although he later wasted a corner routine when he blasted a shot high and wide of the far post. Good defensive work in the second half as Reading protected the lead.
Alfa Semedo: 6
Most of that game was a typically uninvolved, anonymous one for Semedo, but he opened his Reading account with a lovely goal for 2-0. Drop up the pitch in support of Baldock, made the run in behind and finished coolly. More of the same in the future please Alfa.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
An underwhelming afternoon from Ejaria who didn’t create much from the left. In fairness the pitch wasn’t suited to his usual free-flowing stuff, but it was still a very quiet game. Had a couple of good opportunities in the first half to do damage in the final third - released by Aluko on one occasion, seized on a loose pass after a goal kick later - but wasted both opportunities.
Sam Baldock: 6
Pretty much the same as Semedo - Baldock didn’t really offer anything apart from his involvement in the goal. Lovely cute pass to find Semedo’s run in behind. He still struggled to have an impact though which isn’t necessarily his fault - he’s not suited to playing as a lone striker and the rest of the team leaving him isolated meant he was very ineffective.
John Swift: 5
Got the last 25 minutes or so after coming on for Semedo. Couldn’t get into the game with much of the match being played in Reading’s half, but he didn’t really do anything wrong. Great to see him back and getting through a decent amount of a fixture as he rebuilds his fitness.
Tennai Watson: N/A
Replaced Aluko on the right wing in the closing stages to make his first Championship appearance since the 2016/17 season.
Who was your man of the match against Luton? Vote below or through this link.