Joe Lumley: 6
Glad to see Lumley back in the team today. Regardless of his lack of athletic shot-stopping ability, his attitude on the pitch is key to the way Reading defend this season. That said, his consistent ability to collect the ball from crosses and corners was tested today and came up a little short, with Swansea converting from a corner.
Kept Reading in it in the second half early on though. Did well twice with the speedy Obafemi in the second half to first make a save on a one-on-one (that was admittedly ruled out for offside, not that Lumley could have known), and then to stop him from getting his shot away without taking him down.
Lumley’s positioning could have been better for the Swansea winner, but it’s a dangerous curling hit that skids off the wet turf before inching in off the post. As his post-shot xG (currently at -5) suggests, shot stopping is not Lumley’s strong suit, and he needs to be protected better by his midfield from a long shot from a centre back.
Tom Holmes: 5
Mostly did well to stay calm and patient as Swansea applied intense pressure, and needs to be protected better by the game plan. Defensive football is well and good, but sitting back and allowing Swansea’s athletic forwards to play off Holmes is asking for trouble.
All that said, as the senior established centre back in Reading’s current defence, Holmes needs to ensure that he’s taking responsibility for the most dangerous opposition team members at set plays. It’s a tough position for a 22-year-old to be in, yes, but he’s a veteran of over 100 games and will be looking to stay in Reading for years; we need him to show us that he can be even more than he is now as soon as possible.
Tom McIntyre: 5
A shaky performance from McIntyre, but one that surely will have been mentally exhausting for a player not yet with the experience of his back-three colleagues. Very lucky shortly after the break not to immediately concede the second goal, and only saved himself with his dangling leg after falling to the deck. Made up for it later when he combined well with Lumley to deny Obafemi a breakaway and force him wide.
Struggled to deal with the forward’s pace throughout though as he often can, and his height is a worry from corners. That said, it must again be noted that the game plan did him absolutely no favours, so I’ll stop short of saying he made any clangers tonight.
Andy Yiadom: 5
Disturbingly removed at the 55-minute mark after taking a nasty elbow to the rib. It didn’t look intentional by the Swansea player, but that won’t give Yiadom’s torso any relief.
That Reading weren’t able to hang on after Yiadom left the game speaks perhaps to what his experience means to his young defensive colleagues even when he’s playing out of position. Yiadom is missing a little bit of the physical presence needed to really make the position his own, but his calm head out of possession helps Reading to weather storms.
Hopefully it’s just a minor knock…
Amadou Mbengue: 5
Took a tour of the defence today, starting at right-wing-back and then replacing the injured Yiadom in central defence. Not the finished article at either position, but certainly capable and looks as though he’ll be a valuable option in the defence while our injury crisis rolls on…
And he’ll have to be, as Yiadom took a nasty elbow to the rib and could struggle to return this weekend.
At RWB, Mbengue’s energy helped Reading to shuttle Swansea around the sides of their defence in the first half. He looked weaker at CB though and will need to train at that position for the rest of the week if he’ll be expected to start there but there’s abilities to work with here.
Junior Hoilett: 6
Such a canny player on and off the ball, and helped Reading blunt Swansea’s possession in the first half. Indeed, all I can remember him doing wrong today was spurning an attacking chance with a weak shot shortly after Swansea’s third goal.
Won Reading a free kick and Swansea a yellow in the 65th minute with his pace, and generally looked like one of Reading’s greater threats throughout the game.
Mamadou Loum: 4
Where oh where has the imposing Loum of his first few weeks gone? No really, where is he? For a few weeks now, it appears that teams have worked out that they can just go around Loum, and he’ll either make little effort to challenge or do something clumsy.
Loum is best when the game is coming at him fast, and perhaps Swansea’s slow and methodical buildup play caused him concentration issues today. Regardless of what he’s facing though, we need him to be a presence in midfield, and it’s been a little while since we’ve seen that.
Tyrese Fornah: 6
Easily Reading’s best midfielder today and bafflingly withdrawn ahead of Hendrick and Loum. Found himself helping Reading to alleviate pressure higher up the pitch with clever pressing, and also tracking back to clear crosses out for corners.
Great on the ball but just not the best passer. His passing lacks vision and can occasionally be sloppy. If he could add incisive passing to his game, he’d likely quickly become Reading’s most important central midfielder.
Very surprising to see him as the first midfielder withdrawn, and Paul Ince will need to seriously question how much longer he can start Hendrick ahead of Fornah.
Jeff Hendrick: 3
Hendrick needs to work out what it is he can do well in this Reading side, and then commit himself to doing it. Whether the fault of Paul Ince’s gameplan or his own limitations, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what Hendrick is trying to do on the field. Loum is meant to be the destroyer. Fornah holds the ball. Is Hendrick supposed to be defending, attacking, or linking play? It’s hard to tell.
Hendrick’s issues are not just gameplan-related though. Today, instead of making a challenge as the last man when Obafemi was denied only by the offside flag and Lumley, Hendrick mostly just supervised the Swansea player. That really seems to be the main problem. He often finds himself floating between his opposite midfielders without ever really making a challenge. Meanwhile, his passing is often sloppy. Not uninspired necessarily, just sloppy.
Last season, after Drinkwater’s sluggish start to life as a Royal, he was able to reinvent himself by being a more aggressive player without losing his passing edge. It would be nice to see Hendrick follow a similar path this season.
Tom Ince: 6
Tom Ince is wasted when Reading sit deeper than an angler fish in the Marianas Trench. His forward running is important for Reading in moving the ball up the pitch when their midfield goes missing, but it’s a tough ask for him to perform that role and contribute sufficiently in the opposition third.
After Reading went behind he was one of those that showed ambition and drive to get back into the game but unfortunately didn’t quite have the finishing touch late on.
Still, an absolutely delightful finish for his first half goal adds to his tally for the season, and Ince continues to show us how useful he can be all over the pitch.
Yakou Meite: 6
Well what can you say about a player who scored with his team’s first shot on target today? Great to see Meite back in the team today, and his energy in the first half meant that Reading had an outlet over the top when they were able to steal the ball back.
Took his goal with power and poise and celebrated with the joy of a man who perhaps knows that he’s not getting the opportunities he deserves currently. Hopefully he can stay fit for a long run now.
Seemed unfairly removed regardless, but certainly for Joao, who was unable to perform the same role and provide Reading with an outlet to chase Swansea back into their own penalty box. An odd substitution, not Ince’s only one of the match, and Meite can feel hard done by here.
Baba Rahman: 4
Back much earlier than expected and unfortunately looked as though he may have needed another week or two. Leggy and just a little off it, Rahman should be able to do much better than this later in the season.
Ovie Ejaria: 5
Did better than the other substitutions for Reading today, and was able to contribute to our limited attacks. That said, he’s still not quite looking like the old Ejaria, and when we know a player can do better: it’s disappointing to watch him settle for less. Hopefully with more gametime Ejaria can recapture his form, but he needs to play well enough to win his place back first.
Lucas Joao: 4
It’s not his fault that his manager apparently didn’t choose a situation that suits Joao, but how many times have we seen Lucas lose interest in games in which he doesn’t get the ball much. Why on earth would this game be any different? It wasn’t a great performance from Joao, who was unable to really contribute to Reading chasing the game, but again: this was the wrong game for Joao, and Ince needs to recognize that given the wealth of evidence.
Andy Carroll: N/A
Hardly got a chance to make an impression today as Swansea saw the game out. Arguably should have been the first substitution though, as his height could have helped Reading to defend from set-plays after the loss of Yiadom.
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