David Button: 5
Button is now regularly getting crowded out in his six-yard box, perhaps a statement on his cross-claiming recently. Again, he didn’t make any high claims today.
In a sequence of three quick Derby County corners, he unconvincingly punched the first one over and was boxed too easily out for the second, watching his defence skew it out. Minutes later a free-kick came deep into the box and was punched out by Button on the stretch, potentially stopping it from hitting the back of his net.
Didn’t make a save in the game as Derby failed to keep their shots on target though he was saved by the post at one point. Did well to just about manage to get off his line and end a potentially disastrous situation shortly before the end of the first half.
Andy Yiadom: 6
Got into the box really well with an underlapping run on 15 minutes and was unlucky to see his great turn unrewarded when his low shot clanged off the post.
Showed real agility on defence shortly after to cut out an attempted cross that came after a fast one-two from Derby out wide, blocking the ball for a corner.
Withdrawn shortly after the hour mark for Mbengue.
Tyler Bindon: 6
Did well to cut out a dangerous run from Derby early on with a block and then an impressive clearance from the resulting ball that fell from the sky. Followed that up by timing his challenge perfectly to cut out a dangerous low cross through the box.
Showed no such perfect timing when he was lucky not to be booked in the first half for a cynical wrestling-down of his opponent not too far outside of the box.
Tom Holmes: 7
Made a great block on a Burn shot just outside the box to deflect it out for a corner when Reading’s midfield couldn’t cut out the play.
Helped Reading to see out the first half without conceding a shot on target and organised his defence incredibly well against the third most potent attack in the league.
Got across the box really well midway through the second period to track a fast runner and block a goal-bound first-time shot from a dangerous cross.
Jeriel Dorsett: 6
Mixed in build-up and defence. Tried a ball over the top early on that he couldn’t quite connect with. Gave away a free-kick right by the corner flag with a lunge but was solid in the air as Reading found their keeper targeted by crosses.
Continued to help Reading win more balls in the air and often dropped further inside than perhaps expected to stop Derby getting shots off. Withdrawn for Mola with 12 minutes left in regular time.
Charlie Savage: 6
Brought into the line-up for his first League One start since a 1-1 draw at home to Bristol Rovers on November 7, perhaps for frustrating contractual issues not of his own fault. Michael Craig has done well defensively but with Reading conceding a lot of goals recently, the change wasn’t necessarily ill advised.
Savage was energetic in the first half but a little imprecise with some misplaced passes and losses of possession.
Did really well at the start of the second half to get back and keep a dangerous Derby cutback from reaching the centre of the goalmouth. Got back quickly on a Derby counter attack from his corner to punt a searching ball high and clear away from danger.
There were questions about Reading without Craig defensively, but Savage played 90 minutes tonight and helped the Royals to only a second clean sheet in 18 matches.
Lewis Wing: 6
Quiet for much of the first hour. With Derby holding a lot more of the ball than Reading have come to expect from their other League One opponents, much of Reading’s attacking came play in fast transitions better suited to Azeez, Knibbs and Mukairu.
Did a lot more off the ball than on and, overall, this was a game that was better suited to Reading’s other midfielders. Wing found himself substituted for Craig with a little more than 10 minutes to go.
Harvey Knibbs: 6
Won the ball back to kick off fast Reading breaks a few times and helped Savage to bed back into the starting line-up with defensive help in the first half. Got all over the field on both wings and in the centre of the field.
Excellent off the ball tonight in fact, winning the ball or clearing it six times and getting stuck into 10 duels, winning half of them.
Femi Azeez: 7
Femi could have made better decisions at times today but it’s great to watch him play in all-action mode like this. After a few muted performances, this was one to enjoy from Femi.
Got his first shot off from inside the box within five minutes but couldn’t get over the ball enough, slicing it over.
Played a few dangerous balls into the box to Smith with his left foot from the right half space in the opening 10 minutes, one a low ball and the other a looping cross that Smith put wide.
Created a nice chance for Yiadom in the box with his footwork but could have slipped him in earlier for a more dangerous chance.
Showed great anticipation to nip in and intercept a Derby attack before launching one of his own. Unfortunately he couldn’t find the pass to slip Smith through at the end of the resulting impressive dribble.
Forced a save out of the goalkeeper with a powerful shot from range with Reading attacking in transition, but arguably should have picked out a runner instead with Knibbs and Smith ahead of him.
A huge part of Mukairu’s goal, and unlucky not to score himself when he earned himself a shot across goal with some impressive running before striking the post.
Continued to attack in the stretched game with Derby trying to equalise, earning Reading a few corners and running at the backline. Thrived in a more open game than many Reading have played this season.
Paul Mukairu: 7
Couldn’t hold onto the ball in his first few touches tonight but made a few nice runs down the left side to progress Reading into the final third with pace.
Got all the way into the byline not far from the goal with one of his dribbles but should have done better with his low delivery.
Made absolutely no mistake when the ball rebounded back to him for his goal, smacking the ball home with enough power and height to avoid any defenders. Celebrated with some top-level acrobatics.
When he plays well like this, Mukairu provides both width and danger at the side of Reading’s formation.
Sam Smith: 6
Got himself into some good positions and headed over twice in the first half. Should have received even more service in truth, with his wingers making some poor decisions when Smith had made a decent run at times.
Made the wrong decision with 15 to go and saw a shot blocked at the abrupt end of a promising counter attack that should have made much more of its overwhelming numbers. A willing runner throughout who could have had a goal with some better timing from Reading’s wingers tonight.
Amadou Mbengue: 6
Booked one of the first times he was asked to cut out a cross when he took out his man.
Made a good delivery to Azeez that Femi couldn’t get under control but came very close to seeing himself sent off in 10 minutes when he flew in yet again seconds later.
Continuing his mad evening, Mbengue then jumped on a loose pass from Derby to race into the opposition half and help Azeez to earn a corner.
Clinton Mola: 6
Brought on at left-back this time and had a mostly uneventful appearance.
Michael Craig: 6
Brought on for Wing with Reading looking to close the game out. Turned out of a few dangerous situations and was allowed to work a little higher on the field than his usual assignments due to his positioning alongside and even in front of Savage.
Tom McIntyre: N/A
After playing 90 minutes with the over-strength under-21s side last week, McIntyre got his first league minutes since September as Reading looked to get the game seen out.
Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: N/A
Was one of the first players to get on the ball after his introduction, taking Derby deep into their own half in the wide space on the left.
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