This game was a tricky one to rate really. It was a match particularly short on stand-out individual moments, with the result really decided by Reading’s general defensive resolve and organisation. With that in mind, plus the sheer lack of anything going forwards, as a general rule I’ve been positive on the defence and negative on the attack.
Luke Southwood: 8
An absolute rock at the back, Southwood withstood everything Cardiff threw at him with seeming ease. Although he made a couple of excellent saves, flinging himself to one side or the other to keep out an effort, his real value was the general authority with which he commanded his box. For someone who’s still relatively new to Championship football, he doesn’t look it.
Andy Yiadom: 7
A pretty quiet game for him, bar being in the wars in the second half. Bravely soldiered on after receiving lengthy treatment, but was forced into being taken off late on. While it was good to see him restored to right back after previously being at centre back, he wasn’t able to bring his usual attacking verve to that role.
Liam Moore: 7
A solid return to Reading’s defence after a few weeks out. The only hairy moment was a loose pass to Kieffer Moore across the back in the first half which, thankfully, wasn’t punished. Put in some trademark blocks too. Although Moore’s had his defensive problems earlier this season, he seems better when defending deep and withstanding pressure thrown at him.
Josh Laurent: 7
Played the first 65 minutes at the back alongside Moore before partnering Drinkwater in a double pivot. Looked composed enough as a defender yet again, also bringing the ball upfield nicely.
Baba Rahman: 6
I’m still not all that sold on Rahman. He again looked OK defensively, but not all that authoritative, with Cardiff getting joy down his flank. Going forwards, he helped create one of Reading’s best attacking moments when combining down the left before slicing his shot out for a throw on the far side of the pitch.
Danny Drinkwater: 5
This wasn’t really the game for Drinkwater, with Reading on the wrong end of an onslaught and not really expressing themselves on the game that much, bar in some spells. No major worries with Drinkwater, but I can’t give him any higher when Reading had so little going forwards throughout the game - something I’ll apply to the rest of the Royals’ forward options.
Junior Hoilett: 6
Came up with the goods in the first half with a nice composed finish from the edge of the area, ultimately winning the match. A quiet afternoon otherwise really, which included a lengthy period up top on his own in the second half. He was however unable to really knit together Reading’s play to create chances as he’s done previously.
John Swift: 5
Not really in the game as an attacking threat. I can’t remember him contributing anything bar the long ball to Yiadom shortly before Hoilett scored. I suspect that, along with TDB and Ejaria, he’s been getting pretty fatigued over the last few weeks, so the international break has come at a good time.
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 5
Like Swift he didn’t have that much influence on the game going forwards. Had to play some of the game at right back and some of it on the right wing as team changes dictated.
Ovie Ejaria: 6
Better defensively than going forwards. Worked hard to help out Rahman on the left, and had an eye-catching spell in front of the away fans late on, busting out some tricks to keep the ball in the corner and run the clock down.
George Puscas: 4
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Puscas didn’t get much service, so was largely anonymous. I did notice some nice attempted movement to get in behind, but the ball wasn’t played to release him. His link-up was sometimes fine, sometimes sloppy, but he wasn’t in the game enough.
Scott Dann: 7
Partnered Moore for the final 25 minutes plus 10 minutes of extra time, and dealt with everything he had to.
Jahmari Clarke: N/A
Introduced in the 80th minute as a fresh pair of legs up top, but didn’t get much involvement in the game. Not far away from an Ejaria cross late on that, had he connected with, could have been a goal for his 18th birthday. Still, it’s good to see him continually involved in the first team and developing with more experience.
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