David Button: 7
Made two fantastic saves to keep Reading in the game when Bolton Wanderers were at 1-0 and applying pressure around the half-hour mark. The second one saw him close down his man and make himself big to stop a one-on-one.
Showed more of his passing ability today, splitting Nelson Abbey and Tyler Bindon and joining the build-up. Generally, Button provided further proof that his pickup was an astute one, and Joel Pereira will have to do well to replace him in the lineup.
Andy Yiadom: 6
The captain returned to the lineup today, relieving Abbey of the armband and leading the team. He has less energy than Amadou Mbengue but provided a calmness on his side of the field that led to it being less of a danger to Reading in the first half.
Was probably the right choice today and, while he didn’t do anything spectacular, he didn’t cause Reading any issues either.
Tyler Bindon: 7
Started shakily but grew and grew as the game went on. Immediately began showing his confidence on the ball, unfortunately not always with the best outcomes early on. Stripped for pace for Bolton’s goal and should have been stronger in the challenge (though he was defending in his own box), but he was in a difficult situation right after the stoppage.
In the second half though, Bindon was excellent, making several crucial challenges and generally showing a physical side that was wanting during the first half. We know Bindon can pass but physicality is a necessity in this division from a centre-back. It’s good to see he can rise to the challenge.
Clearly a real talent. He showed that he is still just 18 years old and without significant experience at this level so far, but he has so much to offer.
Nelson Abbey: 7
Abbey is excellent at spotting situations in which his teammates need defensive cover and reacting early to quell the danger. He uses his pace well to arrive on the scene quickly when the ball is on the ground. He had to do so on multiple occasions today as Bolton’s quick interplays to get fast players room to run caused Reading issues.
Abbey helped Clinton Mola through his first start with his coverage and communication, which is a remarkable thing to say about a 20-year-old. Solid in both halves.
Clinton Mola: 6
Made his first start for Reading and was much better than he was in his brief substitute appearance against Cambridge United.
Got Reading’s first shot of the day within the first minute. Faded into the periphery of the game for a while after that and didn’t offer much going forward in the first half. Right on the hour mark though, he showed that he does have a decent delivery in him, putting an inswinger into the back post.
Withdrawn in the late stages for Tom McIntyre but will probably come right back into the team for the next match.
Sam Hutchinson: 5
Lucky early on not to have a mistake punished when an attempted clearance cannoned into a Bolton player and back behind Hutchinson for a break. A leader on the field for Ruben Selles and clearly in favour, but he needs to offer a little more if he’s going to keep his place in the team. Seems as though he’s in the team primarily to offer some physicality in the middle alongside Charlie Savage, but he was outdone in that department today and doesn’t offer nearly as much going forward.
Withdrawn for Mbengue in the last 10 minutes when Reading needed more energy.
Charlie Savage: 8
Another performance that showed immense promise on the ball as well as things to improve. Mixed results at set-play delivery today, with many opportunities being too simple for Bolton to defend. He moves very well in small spaces and allows Reading to connect both sides of the pitch. Picked up more defensive actions than his more sturdy partner Hutchinson as well, showing both sides of his game.
Arrived at the edge of the box just in time to get a shot off a few times. Curled wide in the first five minutes and then high in the last 20 minutes, but he will have more opportunities if he keeps popping up in those areas.
Savage finally found the target with the equaliser late in the second half, pinging a fantastic curling shot in off the post and showing again it’s always worth making space for him to shoot.
A fantastic performance from the young leader. It’s unsurprising to see a few in the team have begun copying his wrist tape routine!
Femi Azeez: 8
Wrapped his foot around a fantastic shot that pinged off the crossbar in the first half. If that had hit the back of the net, Femi would be the clear favourite for goal of the month for September.
Made his way further forward as the game went on and substitutions were made and saw a powerful shot saved by the keeper in the last 10 minutes. Generally comported himself well in every position, proving to be a threat both in the box and out wide. He moved really well in the box to get free with Reading 2-1 up and was very unlucky to see his shot saved.
Started the move in from the sideline that eventually saw Caylan Vickers score with five minutes to go.
Capped off a really good performance by getting Bolton’s left-back sent off for a second bookable offence. Femi could really do with a goal going in for him soon but make no mistake, especially after Elliott came on, this was an impressive performance.
Harvey Knibbs: 5
Did well to nip in behind and get on the end of an excellent pass in a sequence that ended with the Bolton right-back Santos being booked early on.
Caused some issues with his running when the ball came near him in the first half but rarely got on the ball, finishing with just 17 touches. Brought off for Elliott shortly after, not making enough from being played in by Savage.
Dom Ballard: 6
Certainly looks like he has the kind of energy needed to thrive in Selles’ system. Looks aware of when to play a pass too and only just overhit a through ball to Knibbs just before the half-hour mark.
Booked for simulation when he went down in the area but did amazingly well to get there in the first place with some great dribbling. Shortly after, he snatched at a difficult chance from an Azeez cross.
Struggled to get into the second half as Bolton controlled the early stages and was withdrawn for Mukairu. Generally a decent debut though and should contribute to Reading’s attack well with his running.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 6
Started well, cutting the ball back into the 18-yard box within the first five minutes to start off a sequence that ended in a Savage shot. Rarely has a negative possession for Reading, usually finding a way to use his feet and at least see Reading keep the ball if not progress. When he does lose the ball it tends to be high up the pitch in the process of taking a man on.
Bolton were keeping the ball well in the early stages of the second half and we saw a frustrated Kelvin for the first time, losing a bit of focus for a while. Caught the keeper late midway through the second half in one such moment. Withdrawn for Vickers in a move that turned out to be the right one, but he put in his customary decent performance.
Paul Mukairu: 6
Did well to get onto Elliott’s ball into the box with one of his first involvements of the day, and was unlucky to see his powerful shot saved.
Showed today that he could get involved in some tight interplays and offer something a little different to Knibbs in the same position. Given nobody else has really challenged Knibbs for that position yet, that’s only a good thing.
Ben Elliott: 7
Provided a creative spark when he came on and immediately found Mukairu in the box for a shot. Breathed new life into Azeez down the right flank and was more than partly responsible for Reading’s resurgence late on. Indeed, Elliot’s partnership with Azeez really seized hold of the game after Savage’s equaliser.
Has surely done enough to start next time out and may have found his best position so far: higher up on the right side of the field.
Tom McIntyre: 6
Slotted into Mola’s left-back slot and helped the rest of the play down his side remain unremarkable. If he has a chance to work his way back into the team it seems like it may be at left-back, with Mbengue being preferred in the middle of the field to McIntyre today.
Amadou Mbengue: 7
Came on in Hutchinson’s midfield role and did well, making more of an impact than the more experienced man. Put the ball into the corridor of uncertainty that saw Vickers turn the ball home.
Filled with confidence, he then found himself in a universe of space in the middle of Bolton’s half after a mixup and took the speculative effort we probably all knew we would in that situation. Unfortunately as we probably also all know we would do, he blasted it well over.
Caylan Vickers: 7
Buzzed around as soon as he came on, providing so much energy and a new challenge for the Bolton players to manage that broke up the rhythm they were building before Vickers came on.
Beat the goalkeeper to the ball to get to Mbengue’s driven cutback and finally earn the goal that barely eluded him before the International break.
After seeing Ehibhatiomhan draw in the majority of the plaudits in the early season, as well as Reading bringing in Ballard and knowing Sam Smith is coming back, it was great to see Vickers get the goal his performances have deserved,
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