Reading are getting back on track thanks to a December that was pretty positive in terms of results and performances. The Royals had a busy month: one FA Cup match, one Pizza Cup game, then six fixtures in the league. Overall the record reads as one win, five draws (one of those preceding a shootout win over Charlton Athletic) and two losses: Eastleigh away and Barnsley at home.
So, as per usual, we’d like to know which squad member you think is most deserving of our player of the month award. We’ve got five candidates for you again, in a shortlist that’s almost exactly the same as the one for November, which consisted of Femi Azeez (the winner), Harvey Knibbs, Sam Smith and Lewis Wing.
Average rating: 6.75 / Man of the match awards: 1st (Eastleigh A), 1st (Barnsley H), Joint-3rd (Oxford United H), 1st (Peterborough United A)
December was a storming month for Azeez, who’s surely favourite to take this POTM award and make it back-to-back wins. He scored against Eastleigh, Wigan Athletic and Peterborough United - all of them excellent strikes - as well as laying on an assist for Smith at London Road.
Azeez is simply a man transformed from earlier on in the season. He’s a constant threat, looking confident in so much of what he does. Even excluding his end product, he generally looks like one of Reading’s more dangerous players in his all-round game. More of the same in 2024 please Femi!
Average rating: 6.13 / Man of the match awards: 2nd (Oxford United H), 1st (Lincoln City A)
There were two goals and one assist in another bright month for Knibbs. He opened the scoring against Barnsley early on in December before netting an important equaliser at Lincoln City, as well as setting up Azeez for his late equaliser at Peterborough United.
Although he didn’t have any really stand-out displays in December (like his performances against Swindon Town and Carlisle United), Knibbs was consistent and dependable. He scored 7/10 on four occasions, 6/10 twice (still getting a goal involvement in each of those games) and 5/10 twice (Eastleigh and Cheltenham when most of the team was below par anyway).
Average rating: 6.17 / Man of the match awards: 2nd (Lincoln City A), 3rd (Wigan Athletic H), 2nd (Peterborough United A), 1st (Cheltenham Town A)
December was when Holmes was reintroduced to the first team, coming in for Tyler Bindon and nailing down a place in the side consistently. Although he was poor against Eastleigh and then at fault for Oxford’s goal, Holmes impressed afterwards, adding plenty of composure to the backline in the latter games of the month.
Reading had to grind out some important away points in December: 1-1 at Lincoln, 2-2 at Peterborough and 2-2 at Cheltenham. Holmes was an important part in that, particularly the last game of the year in Gloucestershire, a man-of-the-match performance despite Wing’s creativity and David Button’s shot-stopping.
Average rating: 5.75 / Man of the match awards: 3rd (Eastleigh A), 1st (Oxford United H)
Smith wasn’t as good in December as he was in November (when he was my player of the month), but he still came up with some important contributions last month. Three goals make him joint-top-scorer alongside Azeez, thanks to strikes against Oxford, Wigan and Peterborough.
Average rating: 6.13 / Man of the match awards: 3rd (Barnsley H), Joint-3rd (Oxford United H), 2nd (Cheltenham Town A)
Last but not least, a midfielder who’s becoming increasingly important and influential for this side. Wing didn’t score in December but did provide four assists, including an excellent ball in behind for Smith against Oxford and a brace at Cheltenham as Reading turned the game around in a few minutes. He was also important in the build-up for Smith’s goal at Peterborough, playing an excellent pass down the line for Azeez.
He’s arguably the hardest player to replace in this side at the moment. Wing barely misses a minute of action, provides creativity and control in possession, works hard out of possession, and is giving Reading a new tactical dimension by dropping in at right-back to dictate play while the full-back pushes on.
Who was your POTM for December? Vote below or through this link.