Despite Coventry’s large amount of possession, Rafael didn’t really have that much to do all evening. Kept one effort out early on after Holmes gave away possession and made an acrobatic, impressive stop in the second half to parry a shot to his right.
Tom Holmes: 4
That score might look a little harsh, but the more I think about it, Holmes had a poor 45 minutes on the pitch and being subbed off at the break as a defender is never a good sign. Almost gave away a goal early on when his loose pass was seized on in Reading’s third, and completely lost a Coventry player for a free header that really should have made it 1-0 after a set piece was put back in from a different angle.
Picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge that led to a worrying moment later when it appeared he might get another booking for bringing down a Coventry player - but the ref rightly didn’t give the foul or card. On the flipside, he did almost get an assist when, having got in down the right, he slid a dangerous low cross to the far post, only for Joao to put it wide. Taken off for Esteves at the interval to spare the possibility of a red card.
Michael Morrison: 7
Not overly troubled by a Coventry side that lacked ideas. Put in a few clearances and blocks but nothing specific of note - I was more impressed, broadly speaking, by the organisation and maturity on show from Reading’s defence which owes a lot to Morrison as the senior centre half.
Tom McIntyre: 7
Reading’s best player defensively, McIntyre really stood up as a mature, dominant performer. Cut out the danger on various occasions, particularly early on when the ball was loose after Holmes’ sloppy pass. He’s played a few times in a row now and you can tell he’s responding well to the increased game time, settling in well alongside Morrison.
Omar Richards: 6
A decent shift for Richards and no big worries defensively, but he didn’t look as authoritative to me as he has done previously. Appeared less confident in possession and didn’t push up the flank in support of the attack that often. Perhaps a little distracted (understandably) by all the recent media fanfare over his contract situation.
Andy Rinomhota: 7
Marked his 100th appearance for the club with a nicely taken goal at the start of the second half. All about the composure to pick his spot, rather than just blasting the ball at goal. As with his midfield partner he didn’t really impose himself on the game that much in general play, with Coventry enjoying the flow of the match in the second half at 2-0.
Josh Laurent: 6
Nothing major of note, although he did put a shot at range straight at the ‘keeper late on for a comfortable save. Not stretched too much defensively and not noticeable going forwards, in contrast to previous weeks when he’s either tried a couple of dribbles forward or - like at Huddersfield - pushed up alongside Joao.
Michael Olise: 6
A quiet night for Olise, who was again put out to the right wing to accommodate for Swift playing in the number 10 role. Looked a little sloppy in the first half at times in possession, and although he grew into the game as the 45 went on, he didn’t really stamp his authority on the match. Found Joao in behind in the build-up to Rino’s goal, but later whacked a free kick well over from just outside the box in the second half.
Right wing isn’t his best position, but it’s where he’ll have to play if Reading are to fit in all their key attacking talent. Olise has the pace and direct running in his locker to be a successful right winger, but that takes away from what he’s better at: cutting infield and looking to link up with Swift, Joao etc.
At times against Coventry I got the impression that Olise would have been better advised to employ some more orthodox, pacey wing play, but he preferred to do his normal game. Perhaps it’s just a matter of him adapting, but that may not start at the weekend as he appeared to pick up a shoulder injury that forced him off.
John Swift: 8
Wow. Wow wow wow. That free kick was one of Swift’s very best goals for Reading, finding the far top corner with sheer brilliance from quite a way out. He had a great assist to go with it, lofting the ball over the top expertly for Joao in the first half, showing his ability and vision in the process.
Linked the play nicely by dropping in and spraying passes in the first half, although he was much less involved in open play after the break as Coventry had more of the ball. My man of the match for the sheer quality of the goal and assist, which edge those of Joao.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
Looked a lot sharper to me; he’s clearly benefitted from the rest that going without football for 17 days provides. Grew more influential as the first half went on, being involved in the build-up to Joao’s close-range chance at the back post, and almost scored himself - dazzled his way into the box and was desperately unlucky to hit the post.
It was his air kick that essentially set up Rino’s goal after the restart. I’m not sure if that officially counts as an assist (it shouldn’t), but it would have been nice for Ejaria to cap a sharper performance with a goal or assist. Almost played in Joao at 2-0 when he snatched the ball back in midfield, but was brought down for McFadzean’s second yellow card. Withdrawn for Baldock later on to give him a breather.
Lucas Joao: 8
Two moments of real class showed just how well rounded he is. For the first, he scored the kind of goal that few other Reading strikers in recent years would have been able to. It required intelligence to get in behind, strength to brush off the defender and great skill to finish with his weaker foot. For the second, his pull-back from the byline was again about intelligence to make a run in behind, but then about vision and generosity to pick out a teammate.
Tomas Esteves: 6
Seemed a little naive at times by being caught out of position upfield a few times and was a little sloppy at times, but not punished. Coventry having more of the ball in the second half meant Esteves didn’t have many opportunities to get forward.
Sone Aluko: 6
An uneventful half an hour on the right after replacing the injured Olise. Put a decent free kick into the area late on, but generally the game passed him by with the game pretty much already won.
Alfa Semedo: 6
Replaced Swift on 73 minutes and, to be honest, I forgot he was on the pitch. He was only really playing to keep the midfield fresh while Reading held onto the lead, and he helped do that with no worries.
Dejan Tetek: 6
Put himself about really well in midfield, showing plenty of energy and desire out of possession. Won the ball back well high up before playing in Baldock for his glorious chance - should have had an assist.
Sam Baldock: 4
If Reading’s game was largely defined by individual attacking brilliance, Baldock’s key involvement was the opposite: an embarrassing howler that he needs to move on from quickly. Put through on goal by Tetek under little pressure, at a great angle, and just needed to slot the ball past the ‘keeper, but put it wide. It’s the kind of chance that any outfield player should be burying.
Who was your man of the match against Coventry? Vote below or through this link.