Luke Southwood: 5
Southwood’s looked error-prone recently, hasn’t he? This time it was dropping a Huddersfield Town free kick in the first half, allowing Danny Ward to convert. On the flipside though he did pull off some good saves - flying to his left to keep one effort out when Drinkwater had given the ball away in the first half and denying the Terriers in a one-on-one opportunity in the second.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Had a good game, generally showing he’s a class above Reading’s other options at right back for experience and individual ability. Got forward well down the right in the second half but he didn’t quite come up with enough in the final third for a higher grade.
Tom Holmes: 5
Should have done better with the Terriers’ first goal: Daniel Sinani had too much space to fire home from the edge of the box with Holmes backing off rather than closing down. Made a nice recovery challenge later on in the half after Morrison had been done higher up the pitch.
Michael Morrison: 5
A small but important thing: while I’d have Holmes as the bigger culprit for the first goal, Morrison being too side-on when the shot came at him increased the likelihood of a deflection going off him and towards goal - and that ended up taking the ball past Southwood into the bottom corner. Also spun a bit easily at one point, allowing Hudds to get in on goal.
As a more general point I’ve previously given him - the head honcho in the defence - credit for general leadership when Reading have put in an organised shift, so I’d feel remiss to not mention it as a negative when the Royals have looked all over the place as they did today.
On a brighter note it was a nice header from him for Reading’s third, but still required a bit of luck for the ball to go in off a defender (ironically given Hudds’ first).
Josh Laurent: 5
A game of contrasts for Laurent. In general play he was pretty good and Reading certainly looked less imposing in midfield when he was withdrawn in the second half for Junior Hoilett. But he came up short in some key moments: caught ball-watching for Huddersfield’s second goal, playing Ward onside and not closing down despite having the chance to do so, and missed a good chance of his own after the break, skewing the ball wide when he should have done better.
Baba Rahman: 7
He made his early assist look easy, but don’t let that subtract from a really nice bit of play. Rahman linked up with Puscas, powered infield and played in Joao nicely to ensure the chance was a straightforward one. Simple stuff but executed well.
I generally thought he was pretty tidy at left back without looking like too much of a threat. Reading seemed keener to use Yiadom as width on the other side rather than Rahman. No complaints though.
Danny Drinkwater: 4
Another poor game from someone that should be contributing more. Drinkwater was sloppy and once even managed to give the ball away in his own box in the first half, requiring Southwood to pull off a good save, and didn’t do a good job screening an exposed defence.
Problems such as those should be counterbalanced by Drinkwater being an influential and productive passer, but I found his distribution to be too negative; I’d have liked to see him look for runners in behind more. He seemed to be a bit more willing to do that in the second half. Withdrawn for Dele-Bashiru late on but that change should have been Reading’s first of the afternoon.
Andy Rinomhota: 6
While Reading’s midfield had the general problem of being too open and unable to protect the defence (so I can’t give too much praise), on an individual basis I was impressed by Rinomhota. He was his classic hustling-bustling self, getting stuck in plenty of times. Rino also seemed that bit more at home tactically, generally playing ahead of Drinkwater (so getting more license to bomb on) rather than being part of a double pivot, but was unable to add much in the final third.
John Swift: 7
I was torn between a 7/10 and an 8/10 for Swift. First the key positive: he came up with two good assists, playing in Puscas for Reading’s second and putting a corner onto Morro’s head for the third. On the flipside, in general play he was OK - better than in previous weeks but without standing out that much - although we needed to see more from him in the second half as Reading chased an equaliser. That aspect persuaded me to go for the lower of those two grades.
Lucas João: 7
A positive return to the starting line-up. His opening goal was the kind of golden chance that Joao had to score, but we’ve seen him fluke those before so I don’t want to deny him credit. He also had some nice touches to show his all-round sharpness hasn’t gone after injury, but Reading will do well to get him more involved in the future. Also good to see him come through the full 90 minutes.
George Puscas: 8
My man of the match, which I’ve not been able to say often in the last two and a half years. Puscas looked so much better in a strike pairing with Joao - both in the sense of being more confident in himself and comfortable tactically - and consistently worked hard.
I’m really happy for him that he capped this performance off with not just a goal, but a really well-taken one too. Puscas had a slightly tight angle in which to work but he did just enough to squeeze the ball inside the far post - very different to previous finishes this season when he’s tried to blast the ball.
Junior Hoilett: 5
Done a bit by seemingly being asked to play centrally rather than on his preferred left-wing spot, and accordingly didn’t add anything of note in his 15-20 minutes on the pitch.
Tom Dele-Bashiru and Jahmari Clarke: N/A
Neither were on the pitch long enough to make an impact.
Who was your man of the match against Huddersfield Town? Vote below or through this link.