David Button: 4
Yes the early Fleetwood goal was struck incredibly well, but it’s fast reaching the point where you can rely on Button to mostly command his box and make the reasonable saves, but rarely to make a great save in a key moment. In that regard, it feels like a continuation of having Joe Lumley in net.
That said, he did do well to make a reaction save when a corner that came in at waist height somehow bounced through to him. He even made another reasonable save low to his left when Fleetwood began running riot shortly before the half-hour mark.
The issue is that he makes a lot of these saves look harder than they are somehow showing his limitations as a shot-stopper despite making the save. Cannot be relied on in a big moment yet.
Tyler Bindon: 5
Put in a good cross early on as Reading searched for an equaliser. Got deep into Fleetwood’s half often early on but again struggled to get back effectively and almost caused a second Fleetwood goal when he let his winger make a dangerous cross.
Probably actually made the most dangerous deliveries of any Reading player in the first half, hacking another cross into a mess of players. Another in the second half had to be cleared out hastily for a corner by Fleetwood’s defence. Still, this is clearly not what this player is meant to do. Just because he can cross well, doesn’t mean Bindon wouldn’t be better off in his natural position.
Harlee Dean: 5
Stepped in well to cut out a dangerous Fleetwood counter-attack in the 15th minute and cut out another dangerous-looking counter-attack with a standing tackle.
Was a complete non factor with his passing, either going sideways or into the teeth of the Fleetwood press, but he did hit the post with a header just before the 90 minutes were up. Offers very little but managed to stand strong enough defensively to let Reading control the middle 30 minutes of the game
Nelson Abbey: 5
Did his usual thing, able to use his legs to save Reading in some dangerous situations, but was certainly one of those who got caught up in Reading’s attempt to mentally collapse in the first half, missing a header that led to a chance for Fleetwood.
Couldn’t react fast enough in the box to make the block for Fleetwood’s late winner though hard to fault entirely on him.
Nesta Guinness Walker: 5
Found himself involved a lot tonight, but not always for good reasons. During the first half he was running back towards his own net a few times when caught overloaded in wide areas.
Guinness-Walker cut one dangerous cross out, but lost his man when a Fleetwood header crashed off the post. Got very limited defensive support from Harvey Knibbs at crucial times but is yet to prove he’s the left-back of the future.
Lewis Wing: 4
Pretty overawed/overrun in the first half and started the second half with really poor physicality, allowing a player to run towards Reading’s defenders at full pace after no meaningful challenge.
After Ballard’s equaliser, Wing began to take shots with more confidence, seeing one deflected effort strongly saved and another curler going just high and wide.
Wing really doesn’t appear to be one of the experienced players who’s going to be able to rouse his teammates, despite his relative age to the rest of the squad.
Charlie Savage: 6
Made a few deliveries from corners that caused Fleetwood’s defence trouble.
Not the physical figure Reading needed when getting overrun but was able to step up more when they began to get a spell of possession (a spell he was partly responsible for) after the half-hour mark, showing how smart passing and build-up can be effective at swinging momentum in a game.
Played well as Reading got on top of the game after their equaliser and rasped a powerful half volley off the woodwork that was just inches off target.
Mamadi Camara: 5
At the time Camara was withdrawn from the game on 29 minutes, I had written nothing about his time on the pitch. Camara was returning from an injury and perhaps a week too soon, looking as though he lacked some sharpness. His attempts to take on his man were there, but he lost in three times in his short appearance.
He wasn’t the answer in terms of stopping Fleetwood’s regular attacks down the right side and Azeez improved production from his side.
Harvey Knibbs: 4
Pretty quiet and regularly caught between two options for marking when on the defensive. A very soft touch when he did reach his man, losing 75% of his duels and didn’t really do much going forward. Outperformed by Azeez when his usual wide partner came onto the pitch.
Sam Smith: 6
Helped Reading to link up a nice move that ended with a corner in the 10th minute as Reading finally woke up.
Despite the slight touch of luck with the deflection, Smith earned his assist with strong play to knock his defender off the ball and give Ballard a tap-in.
Provides a little more creative oomph than some of the younger charges Reading have played up top this season, more akin to Caylan Vickers than Ballard, but wasn’t able to unpick the defence more than once.
Dom Ballard: 5
Had some huff and puff in the first half but was far too easy for the Fleetwood defenders to bypass during their periods of possession. Didn’t affect the first half much.
Went from zero to hero in less than 10 minutes in the second. First, he fluffed his lines and stepped on a ball that needed a first-time shot from a Femi Azeez square across the box. Minutes later though Ballard redeemed himself from two yards, tapping in Smith’s deflected cutback.
Did well to stay engaged after his mistake and get Reading an important equaliser but needs to add intelligence to his pressing game. Hooked for Ehibhatiomhan late on.
Femi Azeez: 6
Brought on around the half-hour mark when Reading were completely collapsing under Fleetwood pressure.
Got himself open in a wide position and managed a shot on target, but shot high and central when he should have shot low and wide.
Shortly after the break, Femi got onto a long punt out from Reading and found Ballard free with a square ball across the six-yard box that had the keeper scrambling. Ballard could only stand on the ball, so Azeez will count himself very unlucky not to have an assist.
Later, he came close to scoring again when sliding onto a Guinness-Walker cross, but unfortunately could only go wide.
Provided something different for Reading when he came on and started off Reading’s chance creation in the second half.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 5
Couldn’t quite get the ball under control at all during his appearance from the bench. At one point it literally seemed to bounce off him during his second touch when his first had taken him around a Fleetwood defender.
Had a chance to score late on but saw his penalty-box finish blocked over the net.
Michael Craig: 5
Touched the ball just once in his 10 minutes on the field.
Matty Carson: 5
Introduced into the game late but really made to feel a part of the action when he was crashed into immediately, earning his opposition number a yellow card.
Unable to make much of an impact in his short stint.
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