Needed to come out and take charge for the opening goal. It’s the kind of delivery that can be dealt with by Rafa being commanding and making sure he’s the one on the end of the cross - not a 50/50 between Liam Moore and Lukas Jutkiewicz. Didn’t have a huge amount to do for the rest of the evening (which saves him from a lower mark) - I wouldn’t put him at fault for the second Brum goal - although he did make a good first-half save from a strong Gardner effort.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Thought he looked lively and pushed down the right in support of the attack well - better than his counterpart on the other flank. A particular highlight came in the first half when his strong run down the wing took him all the way into the final third and should have ended in a free kick - although he did eventually manage to dig out a cross that went behind Meite. Did well to play in Joao at the near with a cute free kick, although the front man couldn’t get his shot away.
Tom Holmes: 5
Difficult first half with the home side aggressive and pressing high to put Reading’s back line under stress. Seemed more assured than his centre back partner in dealing with it though, and brought the ball out well from the back on a few occasions in the second half.
Liam Moore: 4
Bullied for the opener and didn’t seem to recover mentally, looking shaky and error prone throughout. In Michael Morrison’s absence (ironically he was watching on from the Sky Sports studio), you need Moore as the senior centre half and a key leader in this side to step up and take charge - particularly when the game’s going against us early on. Didn’t do that though.
Omar Richards: 5
Really needed him to affect the game more than he did going forwards. Quiet night by his standards though, bar a couple of decent crosses early on.
Tom McIntyre: 5
This was the kind of match when Reading probably needed someone with a bit more expertise in this role. McIntyre’s done a fine job filling in as a defensive midfielder, but naturally isn’t as accomplished as others at breaking up the play when the game’s going against us or dictating it when we’re on the front foot, looking for a goal. Didn’t do much wrong per se, but with Andy Rinomhota and Ovie Ejaria now back on the scene, I could see Laurent dropping into this position at the weekend.
Alfa Semedo: 4
God this guy is frustrating. Semedo had some good moments in possession, generally in the second half when Reading had more of the ball, but was also capable of switching off: hence the winner. Although he may not have been expecting the ball to come to Harlee Dean, that was Semedo’s player to track, and his inability to do permitted a free header. It reminded me of a similar lack of concentration for Middlesbrough’s first at the Mad Stad a few weeks ago when he switched off at a set piece.
Josh Laurent: 5
Too quiet all evening, didn’t have much either in helping Reading get a grip of the game in the midfield or creating anything in the final third. Brought off for Rino in the second half.
Michael Olise: 6
Great corner for the equaliser: a strong, well-aimed delivery that was difficult to deal with and found Meite at the back post. He had a few other good set pieces in the game - a free kick just before that corner and another in the second half stood out for me.
Looked bright in the second half, looking to try things in the final third to open the hosts up, albeit to not enough success. Went close with a well-struck volley from outside the area that was well saved by the ‘keeper.
Lucas Joao: 4
A really poor evening from Joao; his red-hot form of the earlier in the season looks a long way off now. Little impact in the final third, barely a goal threat beyond a couple of penalty shouts, and essentially assisted Birmingham City’s winner with a really poor defensive header that Harlee Dean picked up on. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, poor fitness or both, something needs to change for Joao and quickly.
Yakou Meite: 6
This guy sniffs out a goal-scoring opportunity in the box like a bloodhound; he’s scored so many goals like that from close range that it can’t be coincidence. Reading had the opportunity to go on and win the game in the second half because of Meite’s eye for goal, doing well to guide the ball home with a back-post header.
Could have drawn the Royals level earlier on with a venomous, swerving free kick, albeit one that was too close to Neil Etheridge. Didn’t have the service to kick on after the break, bar a poor miss from an offside position, and was eventually taken off for George Puscas.
George Puscas, Ovie Ejaria and Andy Rinomhota: 5
All were introduced fairly late (minutes 70, 73 and 77) and had little effect against a defence sitting deep, particularly at 2-1. Having the last two back from injury, and hopefully now fit enough to start at the weekend, is the best thing from this evening.
Who was your MOTM against Birmingham City? Vote below or through this link.