The Royals channelled their Peak(y) Mark Bowen performance and left St Andrews with all three points. After an early mix-up saw Scott Hogan open the scoring, second-half goals from Matt Miazga, Yakou Meite and Pelé sealed the win. In truth it was a game scrappier than Scooby Doo’s nephew but, like Scooby Doo, winning is fun.
Involved in the American Horror Story for Hogan’s goal as he was sold short by Matt Miazga. Recovered to put in a typically assured performance with a number of unspectacular saves and catches.
Andy Yiadom: 7
At his effervescent best down the right flank. Dealt with wünderkid Jude Bellingham with ease and created Reading’s best first-half chance when he slipped in Yakou Meite. I always feel he has the unrewarding task of attacking down the right without a proper winger to link up with, but Yiadom does better than most.
Matt Miazga: 7
Jekyll and Hyde-esque from the American defender. He forgot to look both ways before heading back to Rafael, gifting Hogan the opener, but he gets ranked as one of Reading’s best performers thanks to his stunning equalising volley. One of the most emphatic atones-for-earlier-error goals by a defender you will ever see. Some shaky clearances may have cost the team on another day, but they didn’t so we’re all on the Matt Miazga summer transfer bandwagon.
Michael Morrison: 6
It probably felt like a busy day to Michael Morrison with the 6 foot 7 Lucas Jutkiewicz charging around, but I can’t remember Morrison actually doing much. Was his kind of game, with an unrelenting barrage of long balls from the home side.
Omar Richards: 5
Put in a really solid defensive display on his return to the side, but Richards was less effective going forward. Whether you blame this on the young left back or the defensive setup by Bowen is debatable, but he looks assured enough to play the majority of the remaining games.
John Swift: 7
Still looks wasted when deployed deeper by Bowen, especially given how blunt Reading look in open play. Swift upped his set-piece game today - firstly with a quickly taken free kick which put Puscas through, and then with a pinpoint assist to Meite’s cultured forehead. He was again subbed with 10 minutes to go, which was a shame because he would have had a field day on the counter late on.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
Another performance saved by his contribution to the scoreline. Rinomhota still looks unconvincing in his more advanced number-eight role, which is understandable because he isn’t a final-third player. He absolutely still works his socks off for the team and his energy is invaluable. It just seems baffling to watch Rinomhota making runs ahead of Ejaria and Swift when he already scored his annual screamer against Cardiff. With nothing to play for until August, I think it’s worth testing out the line up with Swift and Rinomhota swapped.
Yakou Meite: 6
Yakou Meite is kinda bad at most things in football. Yakou Meite is great at scoring from set pieces. He scored this week, so he justified his selection. It helps that he’s such a loveable guy.
Ovie Ejaria: 4
Ovie really struggled in the first half with Birmingham’s pressing and gave the ball away repeatedly. Unfortunately, he couldn’t redeem himself in the second half as Reading surrendered possession. His languid style can be so frustrating when it’s not going well. He just needs to up his intensity at times to reach that next level and lead this Reading attack.
However, I think we can forgive a few off days from a young player who has played a huge amount of football this year. Is Mark Bowen the right manager to guide a mercurial talent like Ejaria?
Michael Olise: 6
Has slotted into Reading’s attack with ease and had his moments of quality. Occasionally suffers from Ejaria-virus where he slows the game down far too much but, again, he’s only young. Olise could have scored in the first 45 but maybe he needs that opening goal to settle the nerves. If he can add goals to his game, then his potential is sky-high. Is Mark Bowen the right manager to guide a mercurial talent like Olise?
George Puscas: 6
A tireless performance from the Romanian rifleman. Running the channels, holding the ball, shooting from terrible positions, living his life offside: this was peak George Puscas. Definitely more good than bad today and he looked furious that he didn’t get his goal at the end. Imagine how good he could be if Reading had actual wingers?
Garath McCleary: 5
He got an assist for Pelé’s goal, he teed up Meite in injury time. That was about it. Loses a point for shamelessly trying to nab Timbe’s Kenyan fanbase by copying his hairstyle.
Clinched the win with a lovely guided finish on the break for his first Royals goal. That’s now back-to-back league wins without Pelé starting since he started the Wigan horror show.
Liam Moore: N/A
Subbed on to add more #grit to Reading’s backline. I remember a diving headed clearance and we didn’t concede. Job done. Would have got a 5/10 if he’d been on longer.
Bonus manager rating - Mark Bowen: 6/10
Mark Bowen is a man(ager) of mystery. The long-ball tactics to Puscas and Meite went predictably nowhere. Reading were sliced open by The Blues at ease in the first half and were lucky to be only one down. Then he changed nothing, Reading scored two quickfire set-piece goals and defended like peak Atletico Madrid for the last half hour. Obviously, Reading won and winning is great but I still feel unconvinced about giving Bowen the next season.
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