Made a big save early on to deny Maddison, tipping the forward’s shot onto the post to keep the score 0-0, but didn’t have a huge amount to do after that. The shots that came his way were generally straightforward catches from long-range efforts, and he couldn’t do anything more with the equaliser. Patchy distribution too, slicing one clearance so it almost went out for a corner.
Chris Gunter: 6
He wasn’t on the pitch for all that long before getting injured, but during that period he pushed up the right flank well as a wingback, driving into the final third. But without that extra bit of pace to get away from his man, he couldn’t really offer cutting edge.
Liam Moore: 6
His biggest involvement was to put a key block in just after Rafael’s early save, although he was pretty solid defensively after that. Could have been more positive in possession when Reading went to a back three, although there was one case of him overlapping wingback Gunter in support. If that was a pre-worked tactic, it wasn’t repeated, but could work in the future.
Michael Morrison: 5
Reading were sloppy defensively, and for me Morrison should have done more to steady the ship, but he didn’t look as decisive as he has done before. Looked exposed a few times when Hull hit Reading on the break, and should have got closer to Hull’s goalscorer who had far too much room in the box to find a shot.
Tyler Blackett: 5
A steady defensive game on the whole, but I was disappointed by first-half performance on the left of a back three. That system requires the two outer defenders to be positive on the ball, push up and support attacks, but Blackett seemed too cautious on the ball, often opting against passing out to Obita who enjoyed plenty of room on the left before the break.
It might well be that his unresolved contract situation is having an effect. Blackett hasn’t been that poor recently, but for me he’s gone off the boil in the last couple of weeks and lacks the edge we saw in late December.
Jordan Obita: 6
Decent enough finish for the goal, even if Hull’s ‘keeper should have done better with the shot. But on a day when Reading were shot-shy all round, Obita deserves credit for getting into a goalscoring position and decisively having a go; after all, if you don’t shoot you don’t score.
On the whole, he had a pretty bright day on the left, although lacked sharpness after the rigours of playing several times in succession recently. He’s a more natural fit as a wing-back than Gunter on the other side - or indeed Araruna - but for me looked more threatening when supported by a full back in the second half.
John Swift: 4
Really sloppy throughout and gave the ball away needlessly too many times. Bowen said after the match that Swift is fatigued - fair enough given his involvement in midweek, but Swift still needed to get his head in the game and adapt to that fatigue. One occasion in the second half summed his afternoon up - bringing the ball out on the corner, dallying, running into a crowd and losing the ball. He was also indecisive in the final third, for example neglecting to shoot from the edge of the box in the first half, and his corners were poor.
Steady, tidy game in the middle without being as expressive as he has been previously. With no Adam in the side, and Swift off his game, I would have liked to see Pele try to put Reading on the front foot a bit more by using his range of passing and driving upfield with the ball. He did both, but for me not enough.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
Another match in which he’s looked less effective due to being crowded out centrally. Ejaria started the game as a number ten, and played deeper alongside Pele in a 4-4-2 after the break, and didn’t take the initiative enough in either role. He showed more of his eye-catching close control than he has done recently, but again wasn’t able to use that to unlock Hull.
I’ve banged the drum of ‘Ejaria must start on the left’ a few times now - apologies - but one moment at the end of the first half showed exactly why. He drifted over to that side just before the break, found that bit more space to work in, and capitalised by dancing into the box and forcing a save from the goalie. There’s naturally more room for him on the left, so shunting him into the middle isn’t something I can agree with.
Bowen made things even worse for Ejaria in the second half by putting him alongside Pele, deep in the midfield. It meant Ejaria was even less freed-up to push forwards, so he was mostly left to keep the ball moving in the middle rather than having an impact in the final third.
Yakou Meite: 5
Wasn’t in the game enough, and squandered the chances that came his way. Should have scored with a one on one in the first half, and then should have done better in the second when he had a clear run at the defence and just needed to curl the ball into the far corner.
Sam Baldock: 6
One of Reading’s brighter attacking sparks, particularly in the first half when he was involved in some of the team’s better chances. He laid the ball off from a Morrison long ball for Obita to hit wide, played Meite in one on one on the break, and hit the side netting after controlling an Araruna long ball.
He certainly looked much more comfortable in a two-man strike force than when he’s playing on his own, although I’m not convinced that getting more out of Baldock is the way to solve our goalscoring woes. His work rate was again excellent, but that’s pretty much a given for Baldock.
Felipe Araruna: 6
A promising, if safe, debut for the Brazilian. He slotted in at right wing-back, then right back, after Gunter’s first-half injury, and looked assured defensively and with a nice edge to him. A couple of feisty tackles endeared him to the home crowd. But he didn’t have the attacking impact that we needed - although that’s somewhat unsurprising given that he’s more naturally a central midfielder.
Sone Aluko: 6
Looked sharper than in his previous games that I’ve seen, and was pretty positive albeit without creating anything clear-cut. He was at the heart of one nicely worked break that ended with Richards shooting wide.
Omar Richards: 5
Replaced Obita on the left and didn’t get into the game enough to have an impact.
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