Luke Southwood: 7
A much better game for him this time after making an error against Derby County in the 2-2 draw and then, well... the Fulham game. I wouldn’t fault Southwood for either of the goals, which were really about how well Reading’s defence operated, but he did pull off a couple of good saves, the most eye-catching of which was an acrobatic one in the second half to deny a seemingly goalbound header.
Dejan Tetek: 5
Once more started in an unfamiliar right-back role and although he did have some shakier moments, I wasn’t overly worried by his performance. Then again, the worst of the damage being done down the other flank spared Tetek somewhat. I did feel however that he could have been more alive to the danger of Crooks when the low cross came in for the winner.
Tom Holmes: 6
As I’ll say with Laurent, Holmes looked assured at the back. That’s no mean feat given the catastrophe he was coming into this game on the back of. He played his part in a defensive showing that was solid for the most part until the latter stages.
However, I’ll mark him down for a hairy moment just before half time when he misjudged a long ball, allowing Boro to get in on goal. It was similar to him giving away the penalty in midweek as a lapse of concentration just before the break, so Holmes will need to improve on this front.
Josh Laurent: 7
Stepped into the back line once more to partner Holmes in Scott Dann’s absence, and did a good job. He’s looked shaky in recent games, such as for the giveaway that opened the scoring at home to Fulham, but he seemed much more assured this time.
Ethan Bristow: 4
Done too easily for the winner on his side, allowing the Boro wide man to get a cross in. He had a really tough afternoon all round at left back, particularly in the first half when Boro had more possession, probed for openings and often chose his side to go down. Bristow’s positioning was caught on various times and at one point in the first half didn’t deal with a long ball and could only recover by conceding a free kick (and booking) just outside the area.
I don’t want to be too harsh given the flak he’s been coming in for, but as things stand he’s not up to this level. I’d like to think that experiences like this will be the shove required to get better performances out of him, but Bristow’s got a lot of sharpening-up to do if he’s to be kept on next season.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
With Boro so often a threat from wide areas, Rinomhota generally wasn’t the one relied on to repel the hosts’ attacks. Accordingly he seemed a bit quiet, even if he didn’t do anything wrong. Pulled off a terrific sliding challenge to cleanly take the ball at one point in the second half when a Boro player looked set to pull the trigger. He’ll get sharper and more influential with more game time.
Danny Drinkwater: 5
Speaking of influential, Drinkwater isn’t that player. He had a lack of authority in the middle of the park and looked a bit too error-prone for me - frustrating given his technical level and experience.
Junior Hoilett: 6
I ummed and ahhed over Hoilett’s mark a bit: how much credit do you give a player for being the only spark (a minor one at that) in a dire first-half attacking performance? Hoilett was after all the only Royal to test the Boro ‘keeper, forcing a stop at a tight angle on one occasion and firing wide with his left foot on another.
That was pretty much as good as things got for Reading before the break, so I’ve been a bit more generous with Hoilett’s grade than I may have been on another day. Withdrawn for Camara due to injury on 56 minutes.
John Swift: 5
Another game that just passed him by. I’ve felt for a long time that Swift is the kind of player who, even if he doesn’t show up with an excellent all-round performance, can still summon a moment of magic to put in a key contribution out of nothing.
However, he doesn’t seem capable of being a match-winner at the moment. Swift is too passive, too safe and a very different player to the one that scored goals for fun a few months ago.
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 6
Given the left-wing spot with Hoilett and then Camara on the other flank. I wasn’t impressed with him in the first half: although plenty were at fault before the break, Dele-Bashiru was largely anonymous but wasteful when he did get possession. To his credit though he looked a lot more positive after the break, putting Reading on the front foot a couple of times with some trademark driving runs.
Lovely assist for Carroll’s goal. With that aerial ability as an option it’s up to players like TDB to try something different (swinging in crosses) to their normal game, but he executed it very well to pick the Big Geordie out for 1-0.
Andy Carroll: 7
If that’s his last game for Reading, Andy Carroll went out on a reasonable high. His second-half opener was exactly what we’ve been hoping for from him: a towering header that left the goalie powerless. It was however undercut somewhat by his part in the equaliser: Carroll didn’t get close to Matt Crooks who rose high to head home.
Mamadi Camara: 5
A quiet 40 minutes or so after replacing the injured Hoilett. Showed a couple of flashes of energy but didn’t really contribute all that much. Still, it’s been a decent week for Camara’s development: he started at Kidderminster, stood out against Fulham in an extended substitute appearance and has now added another big chunk of minutes to his tally.
Lucas Joao: N/A
Far too small an involvement to get a grade, but he did have a few nice touches during his cameo.
Who was your MOTM against Middlesbrough? Vote below or through this link.