Luke Southwood: 7
With Rafael back from injury it was a big call to keep Southwood in the side, but it paid off. While he didn't need to replicate last Saturday's more eye-catching heroics, he commanded his box really well under physical and psychological pressure. If he’s got any nerves about playing first-team Championship football, he doesn’t show them.
Dejan Tetek: 8
Who had him down to be Reading's right back this afternoon? Tetek playing in Yiadom's spot was a surprise and I'll admit I was worried before the game, but I needn't have been. After a slightly shaky start he really grew into the game: consistently solid and composed, putting in a number of important interventions to shore up Reading's right side.
He even had some nice moments going forward, using his energy well to bomb upfield into space. It's a shame though that he went off late on. Hopefully nothing too serious.
Andy Yiadom: 7
Bringing Yiadom over to centre back was a gamble, but he repaid the manager's faith with a commanding display. He constantly read the danger well and, despite being relatively small for a makeshift centre back, he wasn't bullied. Yiadom was certainly the senior head in the entire defence, due to the lack of other experienced options, so he deserves credit for stepping up with his leadership to help seal the clean sheet.
Josh Laurent: 7
Another afternoon at centre back, still no worries about his qualities there. I don’t really have anything to say about Laurent, and that’s never a bad thing for any centre back, let alone one who’s normally a midfielder. A solid shift in service of the clean sheet.
Baba Rahman: 6
All in all a decent afternoon. He had a quieter game than others in the back line, such as Tetek who seemed to be targeted by Middlesbrough more; it’s more that I’ve marked them up than I’ve marked him down. Didn’t have too much joy going forwards, with the damage being done by Reading’s midfielders (those actually playing in midfield, that is).
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 6
Reading played some great football this afternoon, and TDB was a key part of that, looking lively in the middle - including linking up with Swift in the build-up to the goal. He pushed forwards well in support of Hoilett, sometimes even being the one to make the run in behind.
One of those moments resulted in him getting through on goal in the second half and he should have scored, but his effort was saved. Because of that I need to mark him down, but it shouldn't take too much away from a positive performance.
Danny Drinkwater: 7
Reading have lacked a properly metronomic passer at the base of midfield, but Drinkwater seems to be just that kind of player. Besides generally being a calm, experienced head (important in itself with a makeshift defence), he was always looking for opportunities to get the ball forwards. You could detect that from his first touch: consistently setting himself up to pass upfield.
He should have had an assist in the second half when his defence-splitting pass found Dele-Bashiru through on goal, only for the chance to be wasted. Hopefully he'll come into his own even more as the team gels further and he has a striker's runs to pick out.
Alen Halilovic: 8
This lad has such good footwork that he can play a one-two from one boot onto the other and then into the net. Halilovic's finish was... unorthodox... but it was certainly great to see him popping up in the box and opening his Reading account.
That moment capped another really bright performance. As Tim Dellor mentioned in his post-match interview, Halilovic looks like he’s at home and enjoying his football; you could see that clearly in his work rate and lovely moments of footwork going forwards.
I’ve bumped him up to an 8/10 as, like Drinkwater, he should have had an assist. In similar fashion to how he created Swift’s first goal against QPR, he put a well-placed ball in behind (with his left foot, from the right wing) to find Swift’s run. His ability to spot those runs and find them underlines how good his technical ability is and how well rounded he is.
John Swift: 7
Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and John Swift being involved in a Reading goal. He's now up to 12 goal involvements for the season, this time registering an assist by bursting into the box and crossing for Halilovic. I am a little disappointed though, as mentioned above, that he didn’t put that first-half chance away. He seemed to rush the opportunity somewhat. On the whole though another positive performance from him in combining with the other attacking midfielders around him.
Ovie Ejaria: 6
No repeat of last Saturday's magic in front of goal, but he still looks sharper than his rusty first few appearances of the season. Some nice touches, and his chemistry with Swift, Halilovic and Dele-Bashiru appears to be developing nicely.
Junior Hoilett: 6
Hoilett kept his place as Reading's line striker after a solid but unremarkable shift at Craven Cottage, and he had a similar afternoon this time round. His linkup was pretty sharp, although he typically had to drop deep to do it. However, his own sights of goal were limited; Reading can gain more from an outright centre forward.
Michael Stickland and George Puscas: N/A
Both were introduced late on for injured/cramped players - Tetek and Hoilett respectively - but came on too late to get a grade. I'd have brought Puscas on far earlier in the second half to give Reading more threat up top and kill the game, personally.
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