David Button: 6
Had some scary moments with the ball at his feet in the first half, earning a foul from Garath McCleary eventually after some hesitation on Button’s part, then almost getting caught by the ex-Royal shortly after. Sliced another pass into the stands later on and overall played better with his hands than his feet throughout.
Beaten by a good finish for the first goal, low and into the side netting. Can’t really be held at fault for what was a moment of real quality. Alertly stopped some crosses into the box and dived at Lyle Taylor’s feet to cut out a dangerous ball into the box.
A blunt Wycombe attack scored with their only shot on target today, so Button wasn’t tested much, but calmed down enough to help Reading see out the second half with minimal jitters.
Andy Yiadom: 7
Involved in some of the early running that Reading managed to produce around the edges of Wycombe’s box. The only Reading defender over the age of 21, Yiadom still found himself the most advanced of the back four for much of the day.
Advanced enough to get two shots off before the hour mark in the second half and generally helped Reading stay high up the field whenever they looked at their best, as they did at various times throughout this game.
Tyler Bindon: 7
A little better in the air today, winning 78% of his duels and not finding himself completely overwhelmed in that department in the first half.
Made an impressively clean sliding challenge in the box to divert a dangerous attack out for a corner and then won the second ball in the box to head clear. Won the ball back high in the Wycombe half with an interception to end a counter attack and keep the pressure up shortly after.
Part of a defence that kept a clean sheet outside of a great piece of play, so this was a good performance from Bindon
Nelson Abbey: 7
Began fulfilling his safety blanket duties for Reading again within 15 minutes of the game’s opening. Blocked balls into the box as much as those that eventually arrived but a little shaky with the ball at his feet today, especially when Reading were under pressure.
Abbey is crucial to Reading though, and for no reason at all I will mention that he expertly shielded the ball out in injury time with a Wycombe player right on his back.
Jeriel Dorsett: 7
An unremarkable and therefore totally reasonable first half from Dorsett. The youngster isn’t quite as cultured in his passing as some of Reading’s other left-back options and did contribute to some breakdowns in build-up play, but seems the most defensively solid.
To use a cliche, Dorsett plays left-back like he enjoys defending. More expansively, he lets Reading play in possession the way they want to and does the hard yards to let Yiadom get forward on the opposite side.
Had a mature moment early in the second when he Cruyff-turned his defender and then held him off with broad and strong shoulders. Struggled a few times in the second half with a knock before being withdrawn for Mbengue.
Michael Craig: 7
Nothing spectacular, nothing scandalous from Craig in the first half. The player is clearly still learning but has immense potential.
Did incredibly well to track back and smartly shield the ball for Button in a scary moment when Reading’s defense had failed to play out from the back. Shortly after, he hit a glorious diagonal ball across to Ballard, starting the sequence of play that unfortunately saw the Southampton loanee removed for injury.
Shows real speed at times and is a somewhat capable physical presence, winning more duels than he loses. Was turned just outside of the box by Phillips for Wycombe’s first goal, but the display should be remembered more for how calm Craig looks on the ball.
Lewis Wing: 8
The recipient of some rough treatment from his former teammates in the early stages, taking a crunching tackle just outside of his own box. Did benefit from the return though when he picked up a deflected goal late in the first half, shooting hard from a wide in the box position.
Made a few committed clearances in the box in the final 10 minutes but could have done more to hold onto the ball. Looked really up for it though and chased balls deep into Wycombe’s half, almost latching onto a through ball to seal the game in stoppage time.
Femi Azeez: 8
Whipped in two good balls early on, getting out wider than we’ve seen him in recent weeks, before drifting inside to almost get on the end of an unsympathetic Knibbs delivery.
That quick start foreshadowed a two-assist display for Azeez of both fortune and quality. When you’ve had months and months of poor fortune though, sometimes you need a fortunate goal… involvement... the likes of the one Azeez provided shortly after the injury break.
Collecting the ball out wide again, Azeez wrapped a curling bouncing ball into the box, and when it made a pass by Sam Smith, the goalie mistimed his movement to allow the cross into his side netting. Azeez benefitted from the keeper’s mistake, but did well to put the cross both accurately to his teammate, and on frame.
Involved again in Wing’s deflected goal, chesting down the initial cross into the area from Paul Mukairu and smartly disguising his pass over to Wing as a shot.
Looked more confident than ever in the second half, getting a few shots away and generally being full of running around the box.
I want to give Femi a nine today, but honestly we’ve seen similar in quality yet unrewarded performances from him this season: he creates chaos in opposition thirds every game. Hopefully the stat padding in this game gives him the boost he needs to kick on.
Harvey Knibbs: 7
Still does more for Reading without the ball than with, but today that’s more a compliment than it is anything else. Helped Reading see the game out today with some smart play near the corner flag.
Did well to find himself in space running unopposed towards the Wycombe goal in the first half, but gave Azeez far too much to do with his errant through ball when he could have sent the player one on one.
Won a free-kick deep into the Wycombe half near the corner flag when his pressing caught out the Wycombe right-back. Earned himself a decent chance in the 80th minute but his low shot from just outside of the box lacked power.
Sam Smith: 8
Holds the ball up well and allowed Reading to keep possession in Wycombe’s half and defensive third multiple times. Presses well, especially when in proximity to Knibbs.
Got a glancing touch on Azeez’ cross to continue his impressive scoring record this season and really looks like he can score goals to at least impact Reading’s season.
Smith can be crucial to how Reading play in their best phases, functioning well both withdrawn as a holdup player and when arriving as the final piece of a play.
After his goal, the frontman found himself somewhat deprived of chances until just after the hour mark. First he found the keeper’s hands with a difficult bouncing chance. Shortly after he forced a really good save out of Stryjek when he redirected Mukairu’s cutback on net.
Showing his creative and intelligent side, he almost threaded Wing through in the final five minutes of regular time and was involved in the hold-up play around the free kick that saw the game out. A fine performance from Smith.
Dom Ballard: 6
What a week of extremes for Ballard. Fresh off the back of a hat-trick in his final game with the England under-19s this week, Ballard kept his place in the team over Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan.
Came close to slotting Smith through when his clever turn foiled his defender, but overhit his pass. Met a dangerous free-kick well but got under it and could only head over the net.
Unfortunately, the day would end early for Ballard when his standing leg gave way underneath him after a shot, and he had to be stretchered off. Awful to see and all you can do is hope for the best offer the guy a speedy recovery.
Paul Mukairu: 7
Played an odd 70-minute shift today as both a first- and second-half substitute. Always looks to carry the ball, but showed some maturity when asked to defend deeper in midfield. Brought on for Ballard in the first half due to the teenager’s injury, and played on the left side of a 4-1-4-1 when out of possession, a slight variation on Ballard’s higher role.
Carried the ball 30 yards down the touchline at one point shortly after his introduction, showing his skill. Mukairu feels like the kind of player we’ve all seen at five-a-sides or Sunday league, immensely talented but not always the most alert passer.
Allowed Wycombe to get inches away from an equaliser early in the second half when he lost the ball in the middle of the pitch, a bad habit of his. Lost it again in the box when Reading could have put the game away in the 68th minute, but was unlucky not to get an assist when he produced a quick cutback to Smith.
Pulled up early and was withdrawn for Carson. Hopefully he’ll be able to return for Tuesday.
Charlie Savage: 6
Slotted in higher up the pitch than in most of his starting appearances, and did pretty well. Intercepted a wayward ball to start a counter-attack for Reading and saw his run to end the move just cut out.
Tried to help Reading maintain possession towards the end in Wycombe’s half when he did get chances on the ball, trying to provide some calm and performed his defensive duties off the ball.
Amadou Mbengue: 6
Came on at left-back for Dorsett. Made a firm tackle on Mbengue to poke the ball away and spring the counter. In fact, won the ball back multiple times in his short cameo and was a good footsoldier as Reading saw the game out.
Matty Carson: N/A
Smartly won a free-kick (and a yellow card for his opponent) right by the corner flag that saw the game out for Reading.
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