Luke Southwood: 5
Like in the 1-1 draw with Hull City, things were going well for Luke Southwood until a costly error. This time he didn’t deal with an inswinging cross from the right, allowing Colin Kazim-Richards to convert from close range. Before that he hadn’t been called into difficult action too many times, but made a couple of good stops from edge-of-the-area shots.
Tyrell Ashcroft: 6
Made his first start at right back (as opposed to right wing back) in the absence of Andy Yiadom, but only lasted 45 minutes before going off with what looked like an injury. Derby seemed to target his side so Ashcroft had a tricky afternoon, but he didn’t do too badly.
Tom Holmes: 6
Bar the equaliser Holmes had a very good game, so it’s a shame to have to be critical for a decisive moment. But he should have done better for that goal, with Nathan Byrne getting the run on Holmes, who couldn’t challenge the Derby man, allowing a free header to be powered home. Before that, Holmes had been commanding at the back, reading danger well and dealing with it.
Scott Dann: 6
Similar thoughts to Holmes really, just without the mistake. Dann withstood pretty much everything that came at him, although he didn’t stand out over the whole game as much as Holmes did.
Baba Rahman: 6
Could he have gotten out quicker to the crosser for 2-2? Probably, and he did have some moments of switching off in the second half as he seems prone to for Reading, but he wasn’t directly at fault for the goal. His first-half performance was one of his better ones for the club, being both defensively solid and useful offensively. Linked up well with Hoilett down the left (Reading’s stronger flank).
Tom Dele-Bashiru: 5
Played deeper alongside Laurent in what looked like a 4-2-3-1 from Reading (as opposed to going higher up in a 4-1-4-1). That restricted some of his more attacking instincts, but even so the game passed him by.
Josh Laurent: 5
Reading lacked authority and control in the middle of the park, and while that’s not all on Laurent, he just doesn’t seem to size the game by the scruff of the neck like he did last season. Noticeably sloppy a couple of times in the second half and gave the ball away, but did have one excellent charge up the pitch before winning a free kick on the right.
Alen Halilovic: 5
Started on the right wing and got most of the game before being withdrawn for Femi Azeez. Didn’t make much of an impact during his time on the pitch, with the better of Reading’s play tending to go down the opposite flank.
John Swift: 5
One of Swift’s worst performances this season. He generally looked off the pace and seemed to slow the game down too often - not the sharp, decisive playmaker he usually is. Some of his decision-making was poor, with Swift losing the ball cheaply when a pass was on. He did however make Reading’s best chance of the first half, Carroll’s header from close range, with a nice cross from the left.
Junior Hoilett: 8
Hoilett was my man of the match thanks to his brace - made up of two very different strikes. The first was a gorgeous long-ranger before the break, with Hoilett curling the ball expertly into the top corner after Carroll won a header. As for the second, Hoilett showed his poacher’s instincts to turn the ball home after it had dropped loose from a free kick, although he needed a bit of help from the goalie.
Otherwise he still stood out in the first half when Reading were at their most dangerous. He showed excellent close control and dribbling a few times when in a tight spot, and generally seemed that bit more direct than usual left-winger Ovie Ejaria. Undoubtedly a high from this game, it was a shame that this goal-scoring performance wasn’t rewarded with a win, but I’m looking forward to seeing him start out wide going forwards.
Andy Carroll: 6
A solid but unspectacular afternoon for Carroll. He was a nuisance against Derby’s defence with his physicality, but the productivity from that depended on how much service he got (more in the first half, less in the second). Gets an assist for Hoilett’s opener due to winning Southwood’s long kick in the air, and could have put Reading 1-0 up himself with a header that was blocked at close range.
Felipe Araruna: 5
Given that this was his first outing at non-academy level since September 2020, he can be forgiven for looking rusty defensively. Derby did get past him too easily a few times. On the flipside though he put himself about well with some challenges - Araruna seemed more comfortable when getting stuck in with the play in front of him, as opposed to balls/runners going at/in behind him.
Made a chance for Carroll with a beautifully whipped inswinging cross that the front man could only head wide. Araruna also seemed to like looking for runners with lofted balls down the line.
Femi Azeez: 5
Replaced Halilovic on 65 minutes but didn’t really add much, with Reading unable to use him as an outlet. Had a great chance to make it 3-1 when slipped in by Camara, but fired wide of the near post with his weaker right foot. He’s missed a few chances of that kind this season, so will hopefully sharpen up with the experience.
Mamadi Camara: N/A
Not on long enough for a grade, having only replaced Swift in the 89th minute as a number 10. Played in Azeez with a nice pass though.
Who was your MOTM against Derby County? Vote below or through this link.