Luke Southwood: 7
Ironic, really, that Southwood had the more eye-catching moments tonight than he did on Saturday, but he didn’t come away with the clean sheet this time. He was unlucky with the winner - a really well-placed header that looped over him from his right into the far side of the goal.
Besides that he had a few good moments to keep the score down, making a couple of good saves in the first half. He also did just enough to get a hand on the ball when Derby were through in the second. Add in some nice distribution over long range - he certainly looks better than Rafael in this regard - and I see no reason to drop him.
Dejan Tetek: 4
Looked less sure of himself defensively than on Saturday, and he was caught out positionally for the goal. While it was still a very good header, he lost his man to allow an easier chance than it may otherwise have been. He’ll learn from the experience though: young defenders (if he is to have a future in this position) have worse days and come out the better for it.
I like his intent to get forward, which he showed both at the weekend and tonight too. He’s got the energy to push up beyond the right winger in front of him, and he used that a couple of times, albeit to little impact.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Although we generally think of Yiadom as an attacking right back, I’ve been impressed in the last two games with his composure and intelligence, which have been key to some solid showings at centre half. He also put in some key interceptions, with a couple in the first half standing out. He generally just seems like an experienced, calm head in the back line, which has been really useful amid the selection chaos there recently.
Josh Laurent: 6
Again played at centre back, except later in the game when he seemed to step into midfield, effectively leaving just Scott Dann at the back. I didn’t have major worries over him defensively - he doesn’t really look out of place in his new position. He could have been the hero late on when his header went just wide of the near post. On another day that goes in and we’ve got a very different result to chew over.
Baba Rahman: 5
If other players looked tired from over-exertion, Rahman just seemed... sluggish. It feels like he’s yet to properly get up to the speed and intensity of Championship football. Despite some quality moments that showed his ability, he wasn’t able to really exert authority on his flank. A bright moment was a powerful first-half shot from space in the area that forced a good save. He had an embarrassing one too when he misjudged a crossfield ball, allowing it to comically bounce in front of him and fly over his head for a throw.
Danny Drinkwater: 6
Didn’t reach the heights of Saturday, but he was probably Reading’s most influential outfield player. Our best spells tended to come when Drinkwater had more of the ball, distributing it around the midfield sharply.
On the flipside his defensive shortcomings were exposed, with Derby finding too much space on the counter a few times. He also gave the ball away cheaply in the second half to prompt a Derby attack, although he did make amends by putting in a last-ditch challenge to quell the danger.
Alen Halilovic: 5
One of a few attacking players to look tired; Halilovic lacked that extra bit of zip and sharpness that was evident at the weekend and was ultimately brought off in the second half after not causing enough damage. He did have a few sights of goal though, usually when cutting onto his left foot around the corner of the box, but his finishing was poor on each occasion and he didn’t trouble the goalie.
John Swift: 5
It feels odd to come out of a game with no involvement from Swift in a Reading goal, but it was an off day from a player who’s otherwise been excellent this season. Didn’t have the influence in the final third we needed, with Swift often having to drop deep if he wanted the ball. Went pretty close in the second half right after the introduction of Clarke, forcing a good save from the goalie after Reading had won the ball high up. Set pieces pretty poor.
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 5
Summed up Reading’s overall performance really: played some good stuff but not consistent enough over the 90 and didn’t have the composure in the final third. Brought a good save out of the goalie after a nice one-two in the first half.
Ovie Ejaria: 4
A bad day at the office for Ejaria, who seemed fatigued throughout. He was often involved in Reading’s build-up play around the edge of the area in the first half, but tended to overplay rather than have the cutting edge to work a clear chance.
Seemed to get sloppier after the break, and I suspect he’d have been brought off had Pauno been able to replace him. He did however create the chance for Laurent’s header with a nice dink into the area.
George Puscas: 4
We’ve been here so many times before, but it’s one of those games when you’re left asking whether a relatively anonymous game is Puscas’ fault, or if blame should be pinned on the lack of service. Really the truth lies with a bit of both, but Puscas could have done more to put himself about and make something happen, although I’d have liked to see Reading’s creative players do a better job of trying to play him in behind.
Junior Hoilett: 6
Initially replaced Puscas up top in a straight swap, but later went out wide with the introduction of Clarke for Halilovic as Reading switched to 4-2-3-1. Thought he looked lively in both positions, despite not adding the end product we needed.
Jahmari Clarke: 5
Got the last half an hour or so up top - his biggest involvement in the first team so far, and somewhat surprising given that he started at Burnley for the under-23s on Monday night. Despite being more of a target than Puscas, he didn’t get into the game that much. Given that he’s only 18 on Saturday, it’s hard to expect too much of him at this stage.
Scott Dann: 6
Didn’t have to do anything all that complicated in the closing stages, when he came in at centre back so Yiadom could go to right back. Hopefully a starter on Saturday to give Reading’s back four some better organisation and shape.
Who was your MOTM against Derby? Vote below or through this link.