Joe Lumley: 5
Alert in the first half as Cardiff City peppered his box. Very reasonable with deliveries into the box today but also never gave the impression he was going to pull off a wonder save on one of the longer shots that came in. Lumley watched a few onto the crossbar and post that could easily have found their way in. Couldn’t do much about the possibly deflected winner though.
Amadou Mbengue: 5
Made a lovely run deep into Cardiff’s box of all places late in the game; Mbengue really is a proper athlete. Weaker in defence tonight than Sarr on the other side though, and struggled to help Reading get out.
Scott Dann: 4
Got himself booked for an unnecessary foul in the first half and certainly still looks like a man who hasn’t played much football in hoops. Positionally, he is pretty sound and clearly has no issue with being the centre point of the three. As soon as the play becomes dynamic though, Dann really struggles to contribute.
Naby Sarr: 6
Probably Reading’s best defender today and starting to get a little more comfortable now that he’s had a run in the team. Came close to giving the Royals the lead early in the second half when Cardiff let a corner bounce across his box. Regardless of his actual skill in the air, it’s clear that opposition defences feel the need to cover him, freeing up space elsewhere.
Then came close to putting it into his own net as his clearance for a corner ricocheted off Joe Lumley’s post and nerves.
Nesta Guinness-Walker: 5
Still a little too easy to pass by in a challenge sometimes but generally more positive than Baba. His long throws into the box give Reading another element in their attack… or at least another way in which to target Andy Carroll’s head. Withdrawn for Nelson Abbey in the 84th minute.
Junior Hoilett: 6
Continued to show how well he’s adapted to the defensive side of the wing-back position this season. Did very well late in the game to read Sheyi Ojo’s take-on of Mbengue and shepherd it out of play for a goal kick. This was a generally professional performance from a player returning to his old stomping grounds.
Tyrese Fornah: 5
Withdrawn for Tom Ince on 66 minutes and may have been a bit unlucky to see his number called instead of McIntyre’s. Unfortunately Ince can only have one midfielder who knows where the goal is on the pitch at once, so Fornah was the sacrifice to bring on Ince.
Completed 75% of his passes accurately and was tidy enough on the ball, but ultimately was a bit of a passenger as Reading failed to sustain possession through a scrappy game, making fewer than 25 touches.
Tom McIntyre: 4
Not as effective in midfield today as he was in midweek, perhaps a little tired from that performance. His passing, usually among the best features he puts on show, was inconsistent, with some longer lobs ending up nowhere near their intended targets.
Mamadou Loum: 5
Struggled with Cardiff’s interplays around the box at times and gave away set plays in dangerous positions. Got himself booked for a cynical challenge in the 76th minute, retaliating with a pull after being robbed. Generally a little more reliable than McIntyre today with his better positioning, but he’s too often easily bypassed in the middle.
Femi Azeez: 5
Asked to play a little more centrally than one might expect, some of his best qualities were neutralised. That said, he seemingly struggled with his footing in the rain a little during his 60-minute performance, so perhaps that was the real issue. He did manage to find most of his passing targets in the first half, but struggled with being eased off the ball a little too easily. Withdrawn for Yakou Meite on the hour.
Andy Carroll: 5
One of Reading’s most involved players today, for better or worse. Picked up more touches on the ball than any of his midfielders, but that’s often the issue with Reading’s play when Carroll is on. Not the reason Reading lost today, but not particularly effective at doing much other than getting under the defenders’ skins.
Yakou Meite: 4
Pressured Allsop into a miskick that almost saw Meite turn it into the net. The Ivorian unfortunately came up agonisingly short. That turned out to be Meite’s best chance though. Beyond that, he rushed into some challenges and gave away a few free kicks late in the game, including the one that eventually led to Sawyer’s late goal.
Tom Ince: 5
Put some decent crosses in for Reading’s defenders to attack in his cameo on the field. Will likely be straight back into the team and judging on the evidence of tonight, that’s probably the right decision.
Nelson Abbey: N/A
Brought on late for NGW seemingly to try to tighten up the midfield. Didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but Cardiff’s more experienced players didn’t have an issue similarly bypassing him.
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