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Eastleigh 2-1 Reading: Player Ratings

A rough day at the office almost entirely all round as Reading crash out of the FA Cup.

Eastleigh v Reading - Emirates FA Cup - Second Round - Silverlake Stadium Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images

Joel Pereira: 6

Saw his palms stung early on by a forceful effort from just outside the box.

One of Reading’s most “on it” players today. Pereira wasn’t at fault for the Eastleigh opener and then saved Reading in first-half injury time with a save in a one-on-one situation. Made another good save early in the second half as Reading really struggled to get going.

Was the man who got closest to the corner that Reading had as a final attempt, and doesn’t that say it all. Not his fault today. Should keep his spot for the EFL Trophy in mid-week.

Amadou Mbengue: 4

Had a very involved first half, not always in a good way. Got high up the pitch to support Femi Azeez’ attempts to run through channels. This did see him put in some reasonable crosses but unfortunately much of the first half for Mbengue was defined by what he didn’t do well.

Defensively Mbengue struggled to calm down in the opening half hour. Beaten to the ball for Eastleigh’s opener when he was caught ball watching the admittedly decent driven cross into the box. Found himself being directly positionally by Holmes afterwards but still struggled, letting Eastleigh in behind shortly after the restart.

Tom Holmes: 4

Pretty good in the first half and important in helping blunt Eastleigh’s attempts to progress the ball aerially. Had to direct his makeshift back four through much of the dodgy first half from Reading.

Better in the second but crucially outmuscled for Eastleigh’s winner, which will likely be the primary memory from today. Unfortunately it’s really seeming like Tom Holmes has fallen off a cliff in terms of ability.

Clinton Mola: 4

Started at centre-back and did reasonably well with pressure on the ground early on when harassed by Eastleigh’s forward line. Moved out to left-back in the second half and got much more involved on the ball.

Mola was booked and provided a great cross into the danger area within the opening 10 minutes of his time at full-back. Got a chance to shoot shortly after the 70th minute but dragged it tamely wide.

Matt Carson: 3

Found himself involved a lot early on as Reading often built through their full-backs. Afforded a really good opportunity to deliver a searching ball from a free kick early on but hit tamely over.

Really struggled with the winger he was asked to defend as the first half wore on, and couldn’t stop the cross from being put in that led to Eastleigh’s opener. Continued to get bullied by McCallum and allowed a few more crosses into the box before the end of the half.

Withdrawn for the more traditionally solid Harlee Dean at halftime and you can’t say it wasn’t warranted.

Michael Craig: 5

Quiet for much of the first half. Eastleigh let Reading play at times, meaning Craig had a little more time on the ball, but mostly he just used that time to find Mbengue or Elliot around him.

Didn’t struggle as much as other young players with Eastleigh’s physicality but wasn’t able to do much with his passing outside of a short link-up play.

Charlie Savage: 5

Played higher up the pitch in Reading’s 4-1-4-1 than he’s been afforded the chance to do in the 4-2-2-2. Curled a sighter just wide of the goal shortly after the restart, but popping up just on the outside of the box is where we want Charlie, so it’s a good sign.

Booked for a fairly wild challenge on an Eastleigh player, probably inspired by the tough but fair challenge that had just gone in on Femi.

Given a free kick opportunity right outside the box but couldn‘t get it up and down in time. Withdrawn for Wing in the second half.

Ben Elliott: 5

Helped Reading progress out of danger in the opening half a few times with some smart and calm play. Made a lovely turn out of danger between two Eastleigh players early on but faded pretty fast in the game and couldn’t deal with the non league side’s physicality.

Shot just wide in first-half injury time and was withdrawn for Mukairu.

Harvey Knibbs: 5

Attempted to help Reading press in the first half, but wasn’t especially effective. Found his space often impeded by Mukairu in the second half and should have done more to help reorganise Reading’s shape. Helped generate a little more through pressing once Smith was on.

Femi Azeez: 7

Alert and full of confidence early on, and likely left in the team to help him build momentum. Saw a lot of the ball in Reading’s better moments and linked up pretty well with Ehibhatiomhan. Couldn’t quite get away from his markers in the first half enough to make his speed count and admittedly lost the ball a few times but at least he was trying to play positively. Got much more joy with his dribbling in the second half.

Did good work deep inside his own box early in the second half when he cleared the ball out from right in front of Pereira.

Came close to getting Smith once the frontman came on, and threaded Mbengue in down the line well to allow a shot as Reading began to find their feet on the hour mark. Generally the most involved attacker.

Interacted really well with Wing once he came on. Azeez slipped Wing in for a shot as Reading tried to find a way back after his introduction and everything was going through their partnership.

After just eight days, Azeez looks a different player, and he capped off those eight days with an incredible instinctual shot from the edge of the area that stunned everyone in the stadium at the time.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 5

Earned a free-kick just outside of the box and a yellow for his man when he was dragged down in the opening ten minutes.

Went through a very quiet period for much of the second half until he was almost slipped in by Femi just after the hour mark but couldn’t make the touch to control it. Withdrawn for Sam Smith before the hour mark.


Harlee Dean: 5

Brought on to provide some metal in a Reading defence that was being outworked in the first half. Did just that but still struggled with Eastleigh’s movement. Not at fault for Eastleigh’s winner but should have done more early in his appearance to dent the impact of McCallum’s pestering.

Paul Mukairu: 4

Brought on for Elliot to provide a player who could break the lines with ball carrying rather than (attempted) progressive passes. Unfortunately spent too much time trying to drift inside, meaning he left crossing duties to the less creatively talented Mola. Considering how well he linked up with both Carson and Dorsett in recent weeks, this was a surprisingly isolated performance.

Lewis Wing: 6

Active as soon as he got on, and unfairly called up for offside when he slipped Smith through within two minutes. Got onto the end of an Azeez pass into the box and forced a save out of the keeper, something Reading had struggled to do without Wing on.

Generally, along with Sam Smith, looked like a player who was clearly ahead of his opposition skill-wise when he came on and if Reading had won the game, it would have come through Wing’s and Azeez’ interplay with Smith.

Sam Smith: 6

Brought on with Wing when Reading were chasing the game and needed some quality. Should have scored from Mbengue’s first good cross all day in the 75th minute but got under his jump and put it just over. Score that, and this 6/10 is a 7/10. Generally, Reading looked much more like the League One club with Smith leading the line.

Smith was more effective than Ehibhatiomhan and helped Reading to hold the ball up and put it out to the space between the box and corner flag to be re-delivered or recycled.

Tivonge Rushesha: N/A

Not on long enough for a grade.

Average: 4.93/10

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