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Reading 5-2 Arsenal U21s: Player Ratings

An all-round positive set of grades after another comfy win in the cup.

Reading v Arsenal U21: EFL Trophy Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Joel Pereira: 7

Had a great sequence early on when he made a decent save, claimed the resulting corner, and then made his way through a busy box to launch an inch-perfect throw into Paul Mukairu’s cross, eventually setting Caylan Vickers free for his goal.

Gave away a penalty just after the half hour, hesitating after coming out before he ended up taking Edwards down with a late challenge. Can’t have been upset with the decision and couldn’t stop Fabio Viera’s penalty.

Redeemed himself with an excellent penalty save late on when he flew to his low left to deny Arsenal a third.

Nesta Guinness Walker: 5

Played on the right side of a back four for the first time in his Reading career but was involved well in the early stages, driving into the box and feeding Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan for his goal.

Defensively he was still a little mixed, and was bailed out by Pereira when his overly fancy attempted clearance didn’t reach its target. Booked for a lazy challenge with his hands towards the end of the first half.

Beaten on the wing by Reiss Nelson for Arsenal’s second game and, overall while it was nice to have him as an inverted option for cross delivery, he still struggled defensively in a way we’ve seen before.

Tom Holmes: 5

Did his usual Tom Holmes thing and provided a very physical presence in the back of the defence, winning a lot of aerial duels against his young opposition.

Let Reiss Nelson past him in the box for Arsenal’s second goal with a weak challenge.

Minutes later he found himself booked for going through the onrushing defender in a sturdy fashion during a cynical challenge, and found himself behind the play after rushing in again a few minutes later, with his partners luckily clearing up for him.

Harlee Dean: 6

Formed the second half of a very study centre-back pairing and did show that he’s probably the superior of that type of defender compared to Holmes, if anything because he plays more conservatively.

Gave away a much softer penalty than Pereira’s, making contact with the Arsenal player but not really doing enough to cause the reaction he did.

Went close with a header from a set piece.

Matty Carson: 6

Combined well with Paul Mukairu and helped Reading to press high. Delivered set pieces for Reading and found Holmes or Dean a few times.

Performed ok defensively, winning duels both high and low up the pitch and managed to get a few shots off as well. All in all a decent performance.

Amadou Mbengue: 6

Starting in the centre of the midfield, Mbengue occasionally pulled out right to help out the defence and eventually ended up at right-back.

Hasn’t played much recently given his injury and suspension, and was withdrawn with cramp 20 minutes from time, but notably attacks from Mbengue’s side slowed for the short period of time he played at full back.

Michael Craig: 8

Probably Reading’s best player in the first half, calmly finding his way around the park, spreading play around and stepping into challenges. Won the ball with a smart interception for the move that eventually led to Kelvin’s second goal.

Matched the tranquility on the ball that a lot of his Arsenal counterparts showed and really should continue to start league games.

Caylan Vickers: 8

Played pretty wide in a 4-4-2 when Reading were out of possession (which they were a lot in the opening stages. It was always going to be interesting then to see how Reading defended their right side with the attack-minded Vickers and Guinness-Walker on his off side.

Made absolutely no mistake to cap off an excellent counter attack for his goal. Vickers made a well timed run and finished decisively in the far corner to make the most of his wide starting position and ability to cut inside.

Minutes later he wormed his way through the box and was almost rewarded with another assist. Looked calm on the ball but full of intent in attack throughout, giving Arsenal’s defence trouble both with his well timed pauses and quick changes of tempo.

A great performance from Vickers and cause to start him out wide again in the future.

Paul Mukairu: 8

Combined well with Carson and Craig in the early stages. Drove forward onto Pereira’s throw to punish Arsenal on the counter attack and release Vickers for his goal.

Showed us the opposite of that good sense when he ran all the way into the box but continued his run rather than feeding a striker.

Continued his dribbling throughout the night, eventually drawing a penalty from a loose leg in the penalty area. Tried his darndest to score in the second half, but couldn’t quite get himself free as often as he could get others free.

Ended the game with another assist, intercepting a bad pass from the Arsenal goalkeeper and turning the ball into Smith’s path.

Jayden Wareham: 6

Put his first shot on target with a header when he got on the end of a good cross from Guinness-Walker. Did some good running in the second half but wasn’t quite as effective as some of the attackers around him. Withdrawn in the first set of changes for Knibbs.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 8

Looked very bright early on and was rewarded with a goal when Guinness-Walker took it into the box.

Even before that Kelvin dragged a shot just wide in the first sight of goal for either team. Earned a free-kick for Reading and drew a yellow card for Ibrahim with a run through the middle.

Got his second from a defensive error, and made no mistake when put through in the box, calmly slotting into the side netting.

Denied his hat-trick when he saw his penalty saved, placing the ball well but not quite putting enough power on it to beat an excellent leap from the ‘keeper.

Still, tough to complain about another brace for Kelvin.


Harvey Knibbs: 7

Scored shortly after coming on, taking the ball down well and blasting it into the far netting with his right foot. Took a clattering from an Arsenal player named Heaven that earned the player a red card. Hopefully nothing too serious for Knibbs to shake off during the international break.

Lewis Wing: 5

Brought in for Guinness-Walker, but dropped into midfield in place of Mbengue. Looked like he had less energy than Craig despite playing for just 27 minutes. Did get a nice shot off.

Clinton Mola: 6

Dropped in at right-back and his first contribution was to get onto the end of a ball from Vickers and get a shot on net. Looked relatively sturdy and was actually able to help Reading keep the pressure up in possession a few times.

Sam Smith: 6

Brought on in the closing stages for Ehibhatiomhan and given a golden opportunity to continue his scoring streak by Mukairu. Smith roundly took his opportunity for his third goal in three.

Charlie Wellens: N/A

Got a decent shot off when relieving Vickers late on, but unable to contribute much given he came on with just four minutes remaining.

Average: 6.46/10

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