Luke Southwood: 8
He may have come away from this game having conceded twice, but don’t let that mask an excellent performance from Luke Southwood. Although he wasn’t overly tested in the first half, he had to be more alive to danger in the second, making a number of top stops to keep the hosts at bay. Clattered at one point after the break, oddly not getting a free kick, but in classic Southwood fashion he soldiered on.
The general rule with games like this - when Reading need to see out a lead - is that experience counts. But Southwood (still a relative rookie at Championship level) is showing that he can stand up to relentless pressure, keep his head and play his part in getting the side over the line.
Andy Yiadom: 7
We had to see a different side of Yiadom’s game, given that he’s normally a key attacking threat, but he did his defensive job well. Played his part in a resolute defensive display, although Manning looked dangerous down that side a couple of times. Fired wide in the second half after a corner had been recycled.
Tom Holmes and Scott Dann: 7
An impressive showing from Reading’s new-look centre-back pairing, who I’ll mark jointly given that there wasn’t too much between them. The Royals’ general organisation meant neither were called into anything last-ditch, and both were equal to most that came their way.
On the flipside, Swansea got in behind them with too much ease for the early opener. While I’m unsure who exactly should have picked up Jamie Paterson, it felt like a general lapse that they should address. Additionally, Holmes could have done better with a defensive header that fell to Manning to volley home, but it wasn’t a glaring error.
Baba Rahman: 7
Made a key defensive intervention late on, scrabbling to get the ball clear after Manning had put in a dangerous low cross. Otherwise no major worries, although he at times looked shaky in the first half and was done in the build-up to an offside goal. Like Yiadom this wasn’t a game for his attacking play, but he did set up a header for Carroll in the first half with a well-placed cross.
Josh Laurent: 7
Laurent is so key in matches like this when Reading need a convincing enforcer in front of the back four. And that’s what his role at Swansea entailed: being the sole midfielder shielding the defence, which he performed excellently.
It was an interesting switch from Pauno given Laurent’s freer, more attacking duties in recent games, but one that paid off. Laurent had the odd opportunity to get forward, such as one driving run to take the ball into the corner late on, and forced a very good save with a shot that looked destined for the bottom corner. But this was very much a defence-first display from Laurent, reminiscent somewhat of Pauno’s early games, and one that was key for the result.
Danny Drinkwater: 7
Picked the perfect time to open his Reading account, smashing the ball home in front of the away end after Dele-Bashiru’s effort had hit the post. It was a chance he should have scored, but kudos for his composure regardless. Drinkwater also went home with an assist, knocking the ball over the top to play Carroll in behind.
Otherwise, Laurent playing deeper meant Drinkwater being pushed up into a less familiar role, which I’d broadly categorise as being a box-to-box midfielder in a 4-3-3. While he covered ground well, he didn’t look all that effective in possession - unsurprising given his prior experience as the sole quarterback in front of the back four. No major worries, but his role will need tweaking if Reading are to get more out of him in matches when we have more possession.
John Swift: 6
Relatively uninvolved by his standards, given that he was only involved in one of Reading’s three goals. Still, he registered an assist by doing the straightforward task of feeding Dele-Bashiru for the equaliser. Could have had another in the second half when Dann nodded his cross down, drawing a good save, and went close with a well-hit free kick.
Alen Halilovic: 6
A quiet afternoon on the right wing for Halilovic as he stepped up his return from injury, getting his first start since the Derby County game. It wasn’t a game for him though really; Halilovic’s time was dominated by protecting his right back rather than getting the chance to express himself. Withdrawn for Azeez in the second half.
Andy Carroll: 8
Took his goal expertly. Ironically it wasn’t the kind of chance you’d think target-man Carroll would want, given he had to chase down a ball over the top. But his control, strength and composure meant he made working that opening into a clear goalscoring chance look easy, and when it was on his left foot you always fancied him to find the net.
In all-round play he wasn’t involved all that frequently, with Swansea dominating possession and Reading preferring not to play long into him, but when he was involved he performed his duties well. Held the ball up and linked the play confidently.
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 7
That’s four for the season now - should we appreciate Dele-Bashiru’s goal threat more? The way in which he wrapped off a counter, straight after the opener, suggests not: some clever close control ended with Dele-Bashiru getting the ball onto his right foot and slamming home. He could have gone home with a brace too - which would have been his second of those for the campaign. Another confident run after a Swansea City goal, this time in the second half, concluded with Dele-Bashiru crashing a shot against the post before Drinkwater followed in.
Besides those moments of quality, Dele-Bashiru - like fellow wide man Halilovic - couldn’t extensively express himself in the final third with most of the game dictated by Swansea's possession.
Femi Azeez: 6
Got half an hour or so off the bench in place of Halilovic on the right, also picking up some valuable game time after injury. Didn’t have much of an effect on the game, but it’s really refreshing to see Reading being able to make quality attacking changes in the second half to keep legs fresh.
George Puscas: N/A
No grade given he was introduced after the 80th minute. Carroll’s success as a lone striker has positive and negative ramifications for Puscas: it’s good to give the Romanian a break and time out of the spotlight after his poor goalscoring form, but if Carroll builds on this afternoon, it’s difficult to see Puscas getting back into the side as a lone striker. Then again, that added level of competition could be the kick he needs.
Who was your man of the match at Swansea? Vote below or through this link. There are plenty of valid options, so use the "other" option if your guy isn't on the shortlist.