A quiet game for Rafael who didn’t really have too much to do throughout the game in the way of shot stopping.
Chris Gunter: 6
Typically steady game at right back. Put in some decent crosses in the first half, with one left-footed delivery almost setting up Joao with the score at 1-0. Less influential going forwards after the break.
Michael Morrison: 6
Really should have had a pen in the second half when he was bundled over in the area, but it wasn’t given. Defensively he stood tall at the back, looking comfortable in the first half against an ineffective Stoke side. Given more problems in the second half after the introduction of the very physical Sam Vokes, and had difficulty at times.
Liam Moore: 7
Similar to Morrison, but put in two vital interceptions in the second half to keep the score (temporarily) at 1-0, shutting out crosses and clearing the danger both times.
Omar Richards: 5
Too weak in the challenge for Stoke’s equaliser, beaten too easily by Nick Powell who won a header a few yards out to nod the ball home. Not enough impact going forwards.
John Swift: 6
Had a fairly flexible role in the midfield, usually playing quite deep to get on the ball in front of the defence, but also pushing forwards a few times when Ejaria/Olise dropped back. A steady game overall for Swift, who kept the ball nicely but didn’t create much in the final third. Went close to making it 2-0 in the second half when his fierce central free kick crashed against the woodwork - had it been taken any further out, it would have had the dip to go in off the underside of the bar.
In the future I’d like to see him push higher up the pitch more often in support of the forwards, although that’s easier to do with a defensively minded player like Rinomhota alongside him.
Yakou Meite: 6
Neat run around the back to pick up Gunter’s pass in the build-up to the opener, before picking out Joao in the middle well. Although he had a few more brights spells in the game, he didn’t do enough with them, on one occasion being slipped in down the right by Olise but failing to pick out a runner to his left in space. Tired as the game went on and less effective later in the match.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
A quiet, low-key afternoon for Ejaria. Found it difficult to find space centrally, sometimes being doubled or tripled up by Stoke players to shut him down. Also guilty of overplaying a few times too - as he has been in the past too often.
The tactics of the day meant he’d rotate with Swift and Olise in the midfield trio. Although that does give Reading some fluency in the middle, it did also mean Ejaria dropping too deep to be effective at times. I’d like to see him pushed higher up more consistently.
Michael Olise: 7
A bright game for the youngster, who looked at home in a central attacking role and could have had a goal and assist in the first half. Forced a good save from Butland from just outside the area, and his dinked left-footed cross from the right wing was so nearly met by Joao for 2-0. Quieter after the break, but did open up Stoke with a through ball to Meite in the right-hand channel that the Ivorian should have done more with.
Jordan Obita: 5
Played on the left wing throughout the game - for me not a strong position for him - and he didn’t have much of an impact on the game. Put in some decent crosses, but not influential enough.
Lucas Joao: 7
A bittersweet return to first-team football for Joao who opened the scoring early on with a nice finish, but went off injured before half time. Went close to a second goal on a couple of occasions, when he couldn’t quite connect with crosses from Olise and Gunter. Could also have had a penalty when he burst past a few Stoke players before going down in the area, not long before being withdrawn.
George Puscas: 5
I was torn between a 5 and a 6 for Puscas, who had an OK enough afternoon but without getting into the game enough after replacing Joao in the lone-striker role. Had some decent enough hold-up play, certainly looking stronger than he did earlier in the season, and set up Swift well for a chance on the edge of the area after winning the ball back in the box. Not a bad afternoon, but needs that bit more sharpness and to be more involved in front of goal.
Andy Rinomhota: 5
Probably should have started, and would have been an effective counterbalance for Reading’s otherwise creative central midfield. In the end he only got quarter of an hour or so on the pitch, but Stoke tended more to go long to Vokes during that period, meaning a lot of the play bypassed Rinomhota. Not much time to grade Rino on, but he didn’t do anything particularly of note either.
Charlie Adam and Garath McCleary: N/A
Brought on in the 83rd minute - past our cut-off point for grading players - to add some experience as Reading tried to hold on. Neither had much of an effect during their time on the pitch, although McCleary wasted a pullback cross late on, and Adam spurned a pretty tame free kick.
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