Barely had anything to do all afternoon, bar one key contribution early on: an instinctive save from Lyle Taylor from close range at 0-0. Had he not made it, Reading could have been in for a very different afternoon.
Tom Holmes: 7
Defensively not really tested - ditto for the rest of the back four. Going forwards, I’m a little conflicted about what Holmes offers as a right back. He’s comfortable with the ball at his feet and is growing in confidence as an attacking threat down the wing, and did a good job of getting right up to the penalty area in support of Reading’s attack. However, he lacks the pace and acceleration to really stretch the opposition and get in behind.
A nuisance from set pieces too, as he was against Bristol City, getting stuck in from the Olise free kick to force the penalty.
Michael Morrison: 8
Doubled his tally for the season with a thunderous header in the second half. He must really love Olise's deliveries - the youngster set Morro up for another goal at Cardiff earlier on in the campaign. Didn’t have too much to do in open play, with Forest offering little. If I were being picky I’d have wanted a bit more adventure from him on the ball, given that Reading were playing against a deep-lying 10-man side, but to be fair that’s not what he’s in the side for.
Liam Moore: 7
I would say this was one of the quieter afternoons he’ll have at Reading, and although that’s true, it’s also a tad ironic. The striking thing when you’re watching the Royals in a quiet stadium is just how loud Moore is - constantly bellowing at his teammates, whether it’s general comments or specific advice for one player.
Otherwise, he somewhat surprisingly took a direct free kick from just outside the box in the first half. Is this the start of his transformation into Andrea Pirlo? Perhaps not - it didn’t trouble the ‘keeper.
Omar Richards: 7
Pushed forward down the left well to give Reading some width on that side, although he probably wasn’t quite as threatening in the final third as he has been on his best days. Still, a reliably solid afternoon, although he was withdrawn for Lewis Gibson late on to give him a rest.
Andy Rinomhota: 7
I’ve criticised him in the past for not being involved enough going forwards, but he seems to be notably improving in that regard, and this game was the latest example. Showed good movement off the ball and he was more willing to drive upfield to put Reading on the front foot.
Great workrate off the ball as per, and one moment in the first half summed him up. Forest broke down the left, and although Laurent couldn’t snuff out the danger, a lungbursting run and sliding challenge from Rino to put the ball out for a throw quelled the threat - before he hugged Laurent.
Josh Laurent: 7
He was more of a destroyer earlier on in the season but, as the Forest game showed, he’s increasingly capable of making Reading tick from his deep-lying position in the midfield. Kept possession well and kept the ball moving nicely, allowing others to do the more complicated work higher up the pitch.
Random stat: he was the only Reading player to not have a shot in an overall dominant afternoon. I’ve not marked him down for that.
Yakou Meite: 6
Had a couple of good chances in the first half to put Reading 2-0 up, particularly when found by Olise - did well to work space, but blasted his shot well off target when he really should have scored. Perhaps a bit harsh, but I’ve marked him down for that.
Overall, not at his free-flowing best as we saw against Bristol City, but this probably wasn’t the game for that to be the case. He was up against a tightly packed defence, meaning less space, and was recovering from the injury that kept him out of the Sheffield Wednesday game - hence being subbed for Semedo. A decent afternoon, but he’ll be better in the future when his sharpness returns.
Michael Olise: 8
Went top of the assist charts with a pinpoint out-swinging corner in the second half for Morrison’s header, and it was his dangerous in-swinging free kick that forced the first. Those involvements go to show just how important he is for Reading from dead-ball situations; if the rest of the team can’t manage to score from open play, Olise is there to create in a different way.
In general play he was full of sparkle in possession, making the game look easy with the ball at his feet. I had the sense though that he had a couple of gears to go up into, particularly in the second half when he may have been able to up the tempo, but it wasn’t really a problem.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
Another bright performance from Ejaria, who had looked sluggish earlier on in the season, but is now starting to show us the form he’s capable of. He was a real threat in the first when Reading put their foot down and went for a second, and although he was less influential when the tempo dropped, he was still a proper nuisance for Forest. Brought the party tricks out for the home fans various times; he loves showing off in front of an audience.
Lucas Joao: 6
Kept his goalscoring tally ticking over with a well-taken penalty to put Reading 1-0 up. Otherwise he wasn’t involved in the game enough; the Royals created a good number of chances, but they tended to not be for Joao. He seems to be less involved when Reading are breaking down a deep-sitting team, meaning Joao doesn’t have the pockets of space to drift into, pick the ball up and have a shot from.
Alfa Semedo: 6
Came on for Meite and played the final quarter of an hour as a number 10. The pace in the game was largely gone by that point though; Semedo didn’t add anything overly negative or positive.
Sone Aluko, Tomas Esteves, Sam Baldock and Lewis Gibson: N/A
All came on after the 80th minute so don’t get a grade. Baldock was the most impactful of the four, putting a shot over from Aluko’s cross and wasting time by taking a throw-in down the line when it was Forest’s throw, before pretending he hadn’t realised. Wonderful sh*thousery that Baldock specialises in.
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