Despite Barnsley’s dominance in the first half he didn’t actually have too much to do in the way of making saves, although he did make a really good one from a header before the break. Another clean sheet after last Saturday’s one is the perfect start to the season for him.
Felipe Araruna: 5
A difficult game for Araruna who struggled defensively at times. Found it tricky to play the ball out, often being pressed pretty aggressively and boxed in against the touchline. He wasn’t actively bad though - more a case of adjustment problems for him in a relatively new role against tough opposition.
Michael Morrison: 6
No worries defensively, but I would have liked to see him be more positive in possession before the first red card, moving it forwards more quickly. Admittedly that’s easier said than done against a pressing Barnsley side, not to mention Morrison not being the ball player out of the two centre backs, but more positivity could well have helped Reading get up the pitch more effectively, even if just going long to Joao.
Liam Moore: 5
Similar to Morrison on the playing-out front. Defensively there was one worrying moment early on when Moore lunged in for a challenge and missed the ball, leaving space wide open for Barnsley (although they didn’t capitalise). Also left a Tykes forward free in the box to meet a cross and head it straight at Rafael. More comfortable after the break though, and saw out a valuable second consecutive clean sheet.
Omar Richards: 7
He wasn’t involved so much going forwards, but I was impressed by his composure and maturity defensively. Mostly dealt well with the Barnsley pressure, given that he had a lot of the ball, and showed good decision-making.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
He put in one of the most important moments of the match, shortly before the first Barnsley red card: blocking a Tykes shot in Reading’s box that could otherwise have gone in and prompted the game to go a very different way. Otherwise he didn’t have too much of an impact on the game.
Josh Laurent: 5
For me he needed to impose himself on the game more. With Swift and Olise playing higher up the pitch, Reading need Laurent to get on the ball in deeper positions and make the team tick, but he wasn’t involved enough.
Michael Olise: 7
My man of the match. Bright performance by Olise, who finally added that elusive end product with a first goal of his senior career. It was a lovely finish from around 25 yards out, leathering it into the bottom corner after the ball had dropped to him from a corner.
Overall, for me he was Reading’s best attacking player. He looked bright all afternoon and tried to make things happen when other players lacked that drive and positivity.
John Swift: 5
I was torn between 4/10 and 5/10 for Swift, who was pretty anonymous throughout the game and, despite being the team’s main creator in theory, didn’t come up with much. He did also play a very poor short corner in the first half that was easily cut out.
But overall it was probably more the case of him having another off day rather than being actively that bad. Yes he was sloppy in possession a few times, but he did make a chance for Meite, putting a cross in at the back post for the Ivorian to head at goal and force a good save.
Like with last Saturday, he seems less involved in that number ten role. Pauno needs to find a way of getting him more involved in build-up play, for example letting him drop deep a bit more.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
Really quiet afternoon for Ovie who, like Swift, was pretty anonymous for the majority of the game. Despite playing on the left again, Ejaria generally lacked space to work in. I would however have liked to see him be more brave in possession and try things more often, even if that’s difficult against an energetic, aggressive side like Barnsley.
Went close late on when he wiggled some space on the edge of the box before drawing a save. Also slipped Puscas through on goal for a really good chance.
Lucas Joao: 6
Much quieter than last weekend when Reading were able to get the ball into him much more regularly. Joao was generally starved of service, although he was able to collect - or at least compete convincingly - for some aerial balls.
He did play his part in a really crucial moment: Barnsley’s first red card. Joao got on the end of a long ball from Swift before being dragged back, and it’s his ability to make runs in behind that give him more of an all-round threat than most target men.
Yakou Meite: 7
Looked lively down the right, almost opened the scoring with a powerful header from Swift’s cross but then did manage it from the resulting corner. It wasn’t the most elaborate finish, heading home a loose ball from very close range, but his ability to consistently be in those positions and stick the ball in the net is impressive.
George Puscas: N/A
Not on the pitch long enough to get a grade. He did have one chance though, lashing a shot straight at the goalie after being slipped through by Ejaria
Sone Aluko: N/A
Like at Derby he looked tidy on the ball, but this time he added some extra spark offensively. Looked to employ his pace down the left noticeably more than usual, and on occasion he used it to run at the Barnsley defence dangerously before whipping the ball across goal.
He looks generally more lively than he has done in recent seasons, and more at home as a more orthodox left winger where he’s on his stronger foot. Although he probably won’t get too much game time this season, especially after more signings, from the first two league games of the season he’s done enough to show he’s a useful option.
Who was your man of the match against Barnsley? Vote below or through this link.