Joel Pereira: 6
An OK debut for Reading’s summer arrival. With the disclaimer that I’ve not seen the goals back, the first seemed a case of Reading being caught out by the low cross (these need to be stopped at source really), while Pereira made a good save for the second but was undone on the rebound.
Pereira didn’t seem to want to play things safe with his distribution, generally looking to play out more progressively, but his performance was a mixed bag in this regard. Showed some quality, but also got some things wrong, including a misplaced pass in the second half that went straight to a Dons player - fortunately it wasn’t capitalised on.
Tivonge Rushesha: 7
Given another go at right-back in the cup following an outing there for the bulk of the Millwall game, and again he had a solid, energetic performance. Rushesha looked pretty comfortable throughout, and although he didn’t get forward all that much before the break, he did get forward much better in the second half when the Royals were increasingly on the front foot.
Andy Yiadom will probably get the nod on Tuesday, but Rushesha’s shown he’s an able deputy while Amadou Mbengue is suspended.
Tyler Bindon: 7
Restored to his favoured spot of right-sided centre-back after numerous outings at right-back and one on the left of the pairing, Bindon put in a strong shift today. His biggest intervention came in the second half when he crucially cut out a low cross after MK Dons had got in behind. Reading also looked much more comfortable playing out with him in that spot, compared to Harlee Dean.
Nelson Abbey: 7
Solid at the back, like his partner, and got some game time at left-back in the second half when Jeriel Dorsett came on for Matty Carson.
Matty Carson: 5
Nothing too bad from the returning Carson, but didn’t stand out as much as Rushesha on the other side, didn’t add too much going forward, and will be disappointed by Dons’ equalising goal coming via a cross down his side. Taken off with five minutes to go so that Abbey could take his spot - perhaps something Ruben Selles is looking at for the future?
I also find myself - perhaps fairly, perhaps not - judging Carson performances by how involved he’s able to get in the final third. While that can be down to things like how much Selles wants him to get upfield, Carson tends to look a lot better when he has more chances to swing crosses in - undoubtedly his best quality. If Reading can’t get that out of him, it’s an opportunity wasted.
Sam Hutchinson: 5
A mostly quiet return to action for the veteran central midfielder, who got an hour under his belt after recently not featuring at all. Booked for a standard rash sliding challenge in the second half before being withdrawn for Michael Craig.
Lewis Wing: 9
A hat-trick of goal involvements for a player who’s finally shown how good his end product can be. Wing created the first two goals in different ways: first a clever ball in behind for Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan early on, then in the second half a dangerous inswinging free-kick that Harvey Knibbs headed home. He could have had a third assist thanks to a ball over the top for Ballard, only for the loanee to hit the side netting.
Wing even got in on the goalscoring action himself when a high press yielded an easy close-range opportunity. That’s two in two now for a midfielder who will, hopefully, start to rack up the goals. He’s got it in his locker.
Wing can look better and more influential in his all-round game (Reading struggled to dictate play for large swathes of this match), but it’s hard to turn your nose up at a playmaker putting in a match-winning set of goal contributions.
Ben Elliott: 4
This just wasn’t his day. While Elliott’s capable of shining in this side, he can also go missing, and that was true on this occasion. Looked a bit wasteful in possession too, only contributing a ball over the top that almost had Mukairu in one on one (but didn’t), and was booked for a rash challenge - perhaps a sign of frustration. Taken off at the interval.
Paul Mukairu: 4
No better than his fellow wide player on the other side. Anonymous, rightly taken off for Knibbs at the interval.
Caylan Vickers: 4
Like Elliott and Mukairu, anonymous, in his case getting an hour on the pitch rather than 45 minutes. In his defence he was given a difficult role: sometimes an 8, sometimes a second striker. Taken off for a more impactful (albeit wasteful) Dom Ballard in the second half.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 7
I’ve got a lot of time for a goal like the one Ehibhatiomhan put away to open the scoring today. He showed good movement to get in behind, composure and intelligence to work the chance, and a great finish to slam the ball in at the near post.
Otherwise this was a decent but somewhat frustrating afternoon for Ehibhatiomhan. He worked hard up top but, more isolated than usual in the first half due to the formation change, he didn’t have a lot to work with. While opportunities came more readily in the second half, they didn’t fall for him.
Harvey Knibbs: 6
A classic Harvey Knibbs cup performance: not that great all round but still found the net, this time with a powerful header to make it 2-1. He showed good energy out of possession and did well to play Azeez in for an opportunity, but otherwise you feel like there’s much more fluency and impact to come from Knibbs.
Femi Azeez: 6
Although he didn’t score, unlike his fellow half-time sub, Azeez looked more impactful all round. He was a good outlet for Reading down the right and contributed well out of possession, also setting up Carson with a low cross that the youngster could have done better with.
The frustrating thing is that, as a goal threat himself, he seems cursed. The ball sat up nicely for him on the edge of the area early in the first half - he skied the chance. The ball was fed to him on the right-hand side of the area later on - he pulled his shot just past the far post. While neither were glaring misses, he should have done better with both and you have to think a lack of confidence and composure is a serious hindrance.
Michael Craig: 6
Introduced for Hutchinson as Reading’s deepest-lying defensive midfielder, he kept things ticking over nicely for around half an hour of game time.
Dom Ballard: 5
Although he goes home with an assist thanks to laying the ball off for Wing to make it 3-1, he was wasteful in front of goal himself. He had one effort cleared off the line, while another time he could only find the side netting from a shot on the left side of the box - with Azeez free in the middle too if he wanted to turn provider.
Jeriel Dorsett: N/A
Got the last 10 minutes (including injury time) so not on long enough for a grade, but it was good to see he’s still in the picture.
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