Joe Lumley: 7
Had a pretty quiet afternoon as Cardiff only had one shot on target after their goal in the third minute. Lumley made a good save to keep that out and was commanding of his area throughout - except for one punch that he completely missed in the first half. Loved him getting the crowd going.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Wasted at centre-back as we don’t get to see the best of him, but he still did a decent job. Pushed forward as much as he could, playing a dangerous ball across goal in the first half and having a close-range shot saved in the second.
Tom Holmes: 7
The standout performer in Reading’s back three for me, Clive. Holmes made more interceptions and won more aerial duels than anyone else in the Royals team, while he only made one foul even as the game threatened to turn scrappy. Really impressed by him.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Grew into the game after a shaky start and was generally a reliable and solid performer who helped to limit Cardiff to minimal opportunities. A proper old school defender, McIntyre made more clearances than anyone else on the pitch (eight).
Junior Hoilett: 6
Like Yiadom, Hoilett is a triangular peg in a square hole (I’m copyrighting that) in the sense that he can do a job in the position that he’s being asked to play but it does feel as though he is limited there. I’m not a fan of him at wing-back and I’m not a fan of him on the right, so you can imagine my feelings about the Canadian playing right wing-back. Still, he managed a couple of dangerous crosses and did little wrong. Felt more comfortable when he moved to the left wing for the final 25 minutes.
Nesta Guinness-Walker: 6
A much more assured performance following a slightly concerning debut last weekend. Still leaving a few too many gaps in behind defensively, but I suppose as left wing-back that shouldn’t entirely be put on him. Was very eager to get forward and did well, forming a nice connection with Ejaria. I probably would have given him a 7 had he not missed from only a couple of yards out at the back post in the first half.
Tom Ince: 8
I’m making an early prediction that if he stays fit, Ince will be Reading’s player of the season. The manager’s son was the star of the show today even before his goal, as he just seemed to keep on running and be at the heart of everything the team did. Won the penalty in the first half and then scored that absolute belter of a goal to win the game after the break. If you haven’t already, watch the replay. The movement and pace on the strike is remarkable.
Jeff Hendrick: 6
Marked down because he was the man who rather unconvincingly was marking (if you can even call it that) O’Dowda for Cardiff’s early goal, but I was mostly impressed by Hendrick in midfield. Was full of energy, pressed well and kept things ticking over. Should be a mainstay in the side this season.
Tyrese Fornah: 5
Understandably, it’s clear that the Nottingham Forest loanee still needs a bit of time to adapt to the Championship, but there’s plenty of promise there. Let the game pass him by for large periods, but was always looking to get involved and made a few nice passes.
Ovie Ejaria: 6
Ejaria is always one of the trickier players to mark because he can be anonymous for spells but also produce game-impacting moments. That was the case today as he struggled to get involved in the first half but then grew into the game and provided the assist for Ince’s winner with a neat turn and driving run infield. I’m still amazed at how he manages to find a way out of the tightest of spaces.
Shane Long: 7
Long’s final goal for Reading in his first stint was a penalty against Cardiff, so it was rather fitting that his first goal upon his return was also... a penalty against Cardiff. But the 35-year-old’s performance was about so much more than just his goal.
For someone who we are told is not yet fully match fit, Long’s work rate for 80 minutes was outstanding. He chased everything, consistently pressed and was just a general nuisance to the Welsh side’s defence. It was him that flicked the ball on to Ince in the first half before the winger won the penalty. I could wax lyrical about Long all day, but that was one of the best non-Lucas Joao lone striker performances I can remember in recent seasons.
Kelvin Abrefa: 6
Only 18, but the most experienced outfield player on Reading’s bench, so it was unsurprising that he was the one that Paul Ince felt most confident in bringing on first. Made a couple of encouraging runs down the right without being too involved.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: N/A
A league debut for the man who has simply become known as just ‘Kelvin’. Did his job in the final 10 minutes of giving Reading an outlet up top as they looked to get the ball as far away from their own goal as possible. He’s bloody tall.
John Clarke: N/A
One touch of the ball on a senior debut for the man who might just have the most home counties sounding name of any Reading player ever.
Who was your man of the match against Cardiff? Vote below or through this link.