Before I get into the ratings and comments, it’s worth adding some context in here. With only a few exceptions, Reading’s team against Swansea City was made of up of young players with little to no senior experience. So this match would have been a shock to the system not only in the standard of opposition, but also occasion. Playing in front of thousands of fans was a new experience to the vast majority.
So while there are positives and negatives to be drawn from these performances, there’s only really so much we can say in the circumstances. With that in mind...
Luke Southwood: 6
Made some good saves to keep the score down, in particular one close-range stop at 3-0. His kicking was somewhat shaky though, and ended up returning possession to the Swans a few times under pressure.
Lynford Sackey: 6
Lined up as a right back in Andy Yiadom’s absence before becoming a right wing back in the second half when Reading switched to a 3-5-2. My strong feeling is that he’s happiest when charging forwards: Sackey has a great engine and acceleration, but only got a couple of opportunities to use them - that came off well once early on and and misfired later in the first half. He also set up a header at the start of the second half for Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan with a nicely placed deep cross.
Defensively he looked somewhat unsure and was caught out sometimes. That said, I could tell he’s got good recovery pace, so there’s definitely a player in there with potential. Given Reading’s lack of an attacking right back to cover for Yiadom, there’s an opening for Sackey, but this season is probably too soon.
Tom Holmes: 5
Handed the armband, he was given the job of marshalling Reading’s defence. Thought he generally did that pretty well earlier on, with the Royals not opened up that much at 0-0 and 1-0, although the back line opened up more in the later stages.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Didn’t have many big involvements in the 45 minutes he got. No major worries.
Nelson Abbey: 6
Played 45 minutes at left back, switched to left centre back after the break, and went off injury with 20 minutes to go. Didn’t look too bad defensively despite left back being an unfamiliar position (he’s more often a centre back) and put in a few decent stops.
Lacked opportunities to get forward, but created two chances as Reading grew into the game late in the first half. Both of them were crosses, with Abbey picking out Puscas well in the middle, although those deliveries didn’t quite have the venom to be more dangerous opportunities.
Dejan Tetek: 6
Seemed to be given the closest thing to the ‘Josh Laurent role’ - ie being the deepest central midfielder. Although he lacks Laurent’s physical presence to protect the back four, he still put himself about well. I’d prefer him as a box-to-box player though.
Claudio Osorio: 6
Got 90 minutes in a pretty deep role, playing in the two alongside Tetek throughout the game. He was quietly effective, keeping things tidy in possession and adding energy to win the ball back. No
Kian Leavy: 6
My understanding of Leavy’s positioning is that he’s more often a number 10, and although Reading had that position in all formations this evening, the young Irishman took other spots. In the first half he played off the right, and unexpectedly went to left wing back in the second.
If he was annoyed by that it didn’t show; Leavy’s industry off the ball was very good and he showed some nice touches on it. He didn’t have too many opportunities to show his quality in the final third, but did have some moments. In the first half he managed a run at the Swansea box before firing high and wide, while he did well in the second to, while on the left wing, check onto his right in a bid to put deliveries into the box.
He was eventually taken off for Ethan Bristow, a natural in the LWB spot. Although he doesn’t seem quite ready yet physically (he’s pretty small so will get shrugged off the ball a lot), I hope he gets more chances off the bench later in the season.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 5
Started as Reading’s number 10 before partnering Puscas after the break, but he didn’t get into the game that much. Went close soon after the break when he headed a Sackey cross wide. Brought off for Jahmari Clarke in a straight swap on 54 minutes.
Mamadi Camara: 5
45 minutes on the left wing, 45 minutes as Reading’s number 10. He had some nice moments, including an audacious ball in an attempt to find Puscas in behind, but wasn’t all that influential on the game. Camara would have wanted more opportunities to run at the Swansea defence. Wasted arguably Reading’s best opportunity of the game when he blasted over from around 10 yards late on.
George Puscas: 4
It’d be unfair to expect to get the best from Puscas tonight, given the lack of quality and experience around him. Accordingly he lacked service throughout the game. But I still wanted to see more: Puscas was Reading’s senior attacking player, and needed to be a talisman for those around him to work off, but the game passed him by and his hold-up play was stodgy.
Did OK with two first-half headers but failed to test the ‘keeper, getting under the first cross and putting the second chance comfortably wide. Had a good go with a free kick from around 25-30 yards out, but it was easily stopped by the ‘keeper.
Michael Stickland, Jahmari Clarke and Ethan Bristow: 5
Came on at centre half, up front and left wing back respectively. All did a solid job during their time on the pitch but didn't have a big opportunity to show what they could do.
Who was your MOTM against Swansea? Vote below or through this link.