David Button: 6
Made a good low save from Bristol Rovers’ hard shot early on and stood calmly in the first half whenever Bristol did attack.
Almost gave away a goal immediately after the restart when he got caught on the ball in his box. Made a fantastic save from a redirected long shot shortly after to redeem himself.
Lucky not to be punished when he came flying out of his box and could only head the ball high into the air. Could potentially have done better for the goal but others made more egregious mistakes in the move.
Andy Yiadom: 5
Quiet in the first half but was certainly the more advanced of the two full backs.
Beaten to the ball in the buildup to Bristol’s equaliser but otherwise performed relatively well in the second half. Ran well in his usual spot between the box and the corner flag but couldn’t pick a pass.
Tyler Bindon: 4
Generally solid in the first half but did allow a dangerous strike that luckily went straight at Button just before the half-hour mark. Had spotted his man too but was caught ball-watching.
Needed better awareness for Rovers' first goal when he allowed the striker to walk in behind him. Didn’t show it just a few moments later when he allowed the same thing to happen again.
Does the extras as a centre-back so well, but will need to tighten up on the basics if he wants to stay in the side permanently.
Nelson Abbey: 6
Sturdy and speedy in the first half as per usual. Found himself leading a counter attack at one point and unfortunately couldn’t pick the pass to put Azeez through. As a centre-back that is after all, not his job though.
The more defensively solid of Reading’s centre-backs tonight and covered well for Yiadom and Bindon a few times.
Jeriel Dorsett: 6
Showed some great pace early on to recover when the savvy Chris Martin put a turn on him. Shouldered the more experienced man of the ball with ease.
Played conservatively, but as a centre-back playing as a full-back while making his first league start of the season, you can understand that.
Hurt late and withdrawn for Nesta Guinness-Walker after five minutes of hobbling around. Will need to be told that, while it’s not sporting, it is advantageous to his team to take a seat and force a sub when you can’t run!
Sam Hutchinson: 4
Played as the disruptor and deepest of the midfielders tonight and disrupted both his opposition and his own side’s attacking flow.
Picked up a yellow card for trying (and failing) to drag down his man on a counter attack, but didn’t stop his aggression at all. Had to therefore be removed for Michael Craig.
Charlie Savage: 4
Had a shaky night that showed improvement in the last 10 minutes showing good stamina.
Came close to scoring when one of his crosses snaked away from the box and towards the goal. Lost the ball in the middle of his own pass when dawdling on it and was lucky that Bristol could only shoot well over the bar.
Booked for diving when he took a heavy touch and tried to fool the referee. The lesson to learn is never to dive when your loose touch has clearly given the defender the advantage. He’ll learn that lesson while suspended for the Shrewsbury Town game.
Lewis Wing: 6
Clearly feeling more confident than he did at the start of the season and tried some more searching passes like those we saw in his stellar performance against MK Dons on Saturday.
Linked up nicely with Sam Smith throughout and found himself as the next level of the central press behind the striker.
Needed to be calmer late on though to help Reading ride out shaky seconds and continue to build attacks naturally. Caught blasting the ball to nowhere or smashing it high over the bar when he had opportunities to pass a few times in the last quarter.
Harvey Knibbs: 6
Showed agility and smartness but wasn’t able to take on his man particularly often. Instead, he won the ball back well in the opposition half a few times to kickstart attacks.
The ball came from his side though for the first goal and Knibbs seemed to grow into the game as Azeez was struggling.
Did really well to wriggle through after Reading’s opener and almost scored near post on the keeper, drawing a decent save on an admittedly weak shot.
Sam Smith: 7
Found himself involved a lot early on as the ball spent a lot of time in the Rovers half. Earned Reading a free-kick in the opening minute of the match. Did very well in leading the press and helped Reading to win the ball directly from a misplaced pass from the Rovers keeper twice in the opening 20 minutes.
Showed confidence to score an impressive goal from the side of the box, striking low and hard across the keeper.
Started the second half well, earning Reading a free kick with a combination of tenacity and fancy footwork. Faded after Rovers’ goal but this was definitely his best performance for Reading so far.
Femi Azeez: 4
Found himself some space down the right wing a few times in the first half but couldn’t produce a delivery. Poorly lost the ball in the centre of the field and then gave away a foul when chasing it down as the game got scrappy at times. Began to get the ire of the fans as the ball bounced off him a few times.
Got a telling-off by Ruben Selles early in the second half and shortly after controlled a fast pass from Yiadom on the Wing and put in a searching cross. Couldn’t build on that though and was withdrawn a few minutes later. Not a game to remember for Azeez again and probably needs a spell out of the lineup.
Ben Elliott: 6
Came on and immediately slipped a ball into the box that almost produced a chance.
Twice Elliott broke lines with compact turns around his defender, and moves just as well off the ball. Couldn’t quite find the final pass but gives Reading more momentum than Azeez and should start ahead of Femi against Shrewsbury.
Michael Craig: 6
Made a smart pass and move combination to get Reading moving up the field for one attack and certainly provides more going forward than Hutchinson. Did pick up Hutchinson’s customary cynical booking though (although he did so with less sliding than Hutch usually does).
Should definitely start ahead of Hutchinson whenever fit.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: N/A
Brought on with 10 minutes to go for Smith.
Made a great knock on to Knibbs down the left when provided with the ball with his back to goal. Almost battled through the Rovers box late on when the ball was put in short of the goalkeeper.
Scraps well and gives more physical presence than Smith without perhaps the pressing nous.
Nesta Guinness-Walker: N/A
Brought on late for the ailing Dorsett. Luckily he wasn’t tested defensively as he certainly didn’t play as conservatively as Dorsett.
Could potentially have had a penalty late on when he ran into the box and was pushed. Likely would have won it had the ball not looked close to going out of play even without the push.
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