Wasn’t that troubled, with the Millers only managing one shot on target all game. Dependable when called on to gather crosses and command his box though, which is easier said than done against a direct, physical side. Looked a little shaky sometimes when playing out from the back to me, given that Rotherham were pressing high, but no real errors.
Andy Yiadom: 6
No major worries defensively, and put in a key block late on. Didn’t have as much attacking impact as Richards on the other flank, although he could have scored in bizarre fashion when he charged into the box, and the defender’s clearance (straight at Yiadom from a few yards away) bounced off Yiadom just past the near post.
Michael Morrison: 8
Further underlined his attacking value with a scrappy goal in the first half. Could have scored with the initial header from Richards’ cross, but made sure to bundle home the rebound. He can score like Lionel Messi and like a poacher... is Morrison the perfect all-round striker?
Defensively, this is exactly the kind of game when Morrison’s worth is evident. In previous years we’ve lacked that kind of aerially dominant, commanding centre back who can stand up to relentless aerial pressure, but Morrison was exactly that guy against Rotherham. Stood strong and dealt with everything that came his way.
Liam Moore: 7
Reading’s defensive organisation meant Moore didn’t have to do any heroic last-ditch defending, but like Morrison he stood up to the pressure from the away side really well. Could have had an assist in the first half when he put a low cross in for Joao (not converted), although he looked offside.
Omar Richards: 7
Created the only goal of the game with a really nice cross to the back post for Morrison that was eventually converted. This was his best attacking performance in a little while, with Richards pushing upfield well on the overlap and even having a few sights of goal, including a first-half thunderous volley that was tipped over. No worries defensively, and he was pushed up to left wing late on with McIntyre introduced as a more aerially dominant left back.
Josh Laurent: 6
Tidy shift in front of the back four, plugging the gaps where necessary. There weren’t many stand-out moments from Laurent, but he went about his job quietly and effectively on an afternoon when Reading had to go for extended spells under pressure.
Alfa Semedo: 5
Sloppy and ineffective in possession, looking a bit nervy to me really, summed up by one moment in the first half when Reading were playing out and Semedo conceded a corner when pressed by a Rotherham player. Nothing too bad, but he needed to be sharper. Didn’t add too much to Reading’s offensive play, and should have buried a low cross at the back post just before the break but got his finish wrong.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
Again played as Reading’s right winger in the 4-2-3-1, and had a decent but largely unremarkable afternoon. He looked more threatening when there was space to run into, but naturally lacked the trickiness to beat a defender when that space wasn’t there. Put himself about really well to harry the Millers higher up the pitch, and Pauno may bookmark this particular tactical choice as one to deploy in games against better sides in the future.
Michael Olise: 7
Looked lively in the 10 role, and was at the heart of a good number of Reading’s more dangerous attacks in open play. The Millers pressing higher up, rather than sitting deep, meant pockets of space opened up for him to work in, and on a number of occasions he had a run at the hosts’ defence but wasn’t quite able to pick the right ball. Managed to set up good crossing opportunities for Ejaria and Moore in the first half by finding them in space on the left.
Should have had an assist in the second half when a lovely pass found Joao in behind on the left, only for the forward to scuff his chance. Went close(ish) with a few efforts from outside the area after that.
Ovie Ejaria: 7
Seems to have found some form. Followed up a decent shift at Wycombe in midweek with another bright one here, looking positive and sharp in possession, rather than the player who’s previously let games pass him by. Linked up well with Olise, particularly in the first half, and could have had an assist just before the break when he flashed a great free kick across goal but it wasn’t tapped in.
Quieter in the second half although he did have a few shots, shooting over on one occasion. Withdrawn for McIntyre after 76 minutes so that Reading could shore up at the back.
Lucas Joao: 5
You can tell he’s lacking confidence. Joao had a couple of good chances to find the net, getting better service than he has been receiving recently, but fluffed them. Put a low cross from Moore wide in the first half, and scuffed a chip when play through by Olise in the second. That said, his hold-up play looked better to me than it has been, with Joao dropping deep to decent effect. Just needs another goal to get his confidence back up.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Brought on at left back in place of Ejaria (with Richards going to LW), and put in a solid shift to help Reading see out the result.
Tomas Esteves and Tom Holmes: N/A
Both came on as extra defensive bodies late on (too late for ratings) as Reading shut up shop.
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