I found this game particularly tricky to analyse for player ratings. It was one of the duller games you’ll see this season, with few stand-out moments for good or bad reasons for anyone in the side. Broadly speaking, the defence did well to keep the clean sheet, although Preston offered little so doing so wasn’t that difficult, the midfield didn’t impose itself on the game enough and the attack was short on creativity.
Another clean sheet, but he didn’t have to do too much to earn it for most of the game. That said, he made a really smart close-range stop in the first half when the ball bobbled around the box before being fired at him from a few yards. The only other save he needed to pull off was to turn a Scott Sinclair effort round the post early on - a stop he didn’t have too much trouble in making.
Tom Holmes: 6
No real worries at right back. A good reaction to his poor 45-minute performance against Coventry City on Tuesday night, although there was one moment in the first half when he gave the ball away and Preston threatened a dangerous counter - but didn’t pull it off. Didn’t add much going forwards.
Michael Morrison: 6
Solid at the back, but Preston had little ingenuity to unlock Reading and didn’t get in behind our defence, so Morrison had a straightforward afternoon.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Same as Morrison, although he did come close from a set piece in the second half. Did well to sneak to the near post to meet Aluko’s out-swinging corner, but needed a defter touch to guide his shot inside the far post.
Omar Richards: 6
Looked sharper than he did on Tuesday, doing really well defensively a few times. Didn’t bomb on down the left enough to give us a threat on that side, and Reading could have used that attacking outlet to stretch the game more and support Ejaria.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
Did the defensive side well enough to protect the back four, but I’d have liked to see him do more to take the game by the scruff of the neck and add some more urgency to Reading in possession or push the side up the pitch.
Josh Laurent: 6
Like Rinomhota, tidy defensively but for me could have done more offensively. Forced a good save from the goalie in the first half from range.
Sone Aluko: 6
Came up with some decent moments in the second half when Reading generally lacked ideas. Forced a save with a well-hit long-range shot on his weaker right foot, set up McIntyre well for a chance from a corner, and put in a dangerous delivery after a short corner on the right for McIntyre - although Morrison was offside.
On the flipside, his first-half free kick which sailed well over the bar was pretty awful. Given that Swift had gone close with his two efforts before that, Aluko should have left that set piece. Withdrawn for Alfa Semedo in Reading’s only substitution of the match.
John Swift: 7
Overall he was Reading’s most threatening player going forwards, so he’s my man of the match. That was particularly evident in the first half, when the Royals grew into the game more when Swift got more of the ball, and he could have had a goal or two from free kicks that were saved and put into the side netting. Put in some decent deliveries in the second half when drifting over to the left - one of them led directly to Joao winning the late penalty.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
Some sharp play at times but generally a quiet afternoon. The closest he came was when, having been fed by Joao, he forced a smart save at the near post in the second half. Also could have done better when set free on the left in the dying moments. Another off day in a frustratingly inconsistent season for him.
Lucas Joao: 4
His afternoon will be remembered for the missed penalty, which would have handed Reading a big win, but he was poor all afternoon. Wasn’t involved in the game enough, didn’t have shooting opportunities and just generally looked frustrated.
His best moment came in the second half when he did well to collect a long kick from Rafael, charge forward and release Ejaria on the left for a shooting opportunity. Reading needed more of that link-up play from Joao.
Alfa Semedo: 5
Replaced Aluko on 77 minutes, but was sold a little short by Veljko Paunovic as he was put out on the right wing for the rest of the game. Unsurprisingly didn’t come up with anything in the quarter of an hour or so that he was on the pitch.
Who was your man of the match against Preston? Vote below or through this link.