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Stevenage 0-1 Reading: Player Ratings

A big shift from the defence earned the Royals a vital win and clean sheet at promotion-chasing Stevenage.

Oxford United v Reading - Sky Bet League One Photo by Cameron Howard/Getty Images

David Button: 6

Made a pair of decent saves in the opening 10 minutes, first keeping his composure to catch a header from a cross, and then managing to hold one to the right side of the goal shortly after.

Forced to deal with a lot of crosses into the box today in horrible conditions. Did OK when it came closer to his goalmouth but didn’t come to claim often, occasionally choosing to punch when he did.

Caught on his back post when the ball was diverted across goal midway through the second half. Was very lucky towards the end when the ball dropped out of the swirling sky onto his crossbar. Button lost the ball in the air but recovered well to anticipate and catch the follow up header.

Andy Yiadom: 7

One of Reading’s brightest performers in the first half. Showed great strength and dribbling skill to dig himself out of a pressing trap and release Reading for an attack. That proved typical of Yiadom’s effort when Reading were able to get forward, and he put another good cross in shortly after the half-hour mark.

Amadou Mbengue: 7

Started a second consecutive game at centre-back, and remains a little wild for that position, occasionally trying to dribble out of dangerous positions rather than clearing it for example. Showed good athletic ability often though to cut out a few crosses into the box with sliding blocks.

Delivered the long throw that somehow found its way into the back of the net and celebrated wildly with the coaching staff.

Tyler Bindon: 7

Again the senior centre half in the pairing, Bindon had a really tough assignment tonight. Made it through the first half without allowing anything too egregious in the box. Used his body well to squeeze space out from underneath Stevenage’s attackers when they were looking for headed shots in the box, and jumped well to meet other headers cleanly and clear the danger.

Helped Reading to keep attacks moving in Stevenage’s half in the second half at times with a few early interventions when the ball was lost.

Clinton Mola: 7

Selles opted not to use Dorsett at left-back for the first time in weeks, and instead gave Mola a go, potentially to help out with Stevenage’s aerial assault. Helped there early on by reading a Boro set play into the box and heading clear the dangerous second ball.

Booked when he gave away a free-kick by the corner flag, diving in a little too eagerly when trying to block a cross.

Pushed forward with energy at times in the second half and helped Reading to break out of a spell of Stevenage possession after the hour mark. In fact, generally looked more comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Charlie Savage: 7

Ran around Reading’s half like a man who’s been told he’s not “tough” enough for a few months. Got two good blocks in early on to prevent Stevenage from crossing or shooting. Booked for crashing into a Stevenage player over eagerly in the 24th minute, giving him a difficult defensive assignment for the rest of the night.

Had a typical game on the ball: played a lovely ball over to Femi that resulted immediately in a Femi Azeez cross and helped start off a nice move on the right side by finding Yiadom out there in space in the first place. Generally, his spreading of play with first-time balls helped Reading switch the focus of their attacks.

Taken off late for Craig today but gave one of his best performances so far in a Reading shirt.

Lewis Wing: 6

Showed good energy in the early stages to help Reading to a pretty good start to the game. Buzzed around defensively and played some reasonably well directed clearances when Reading were dealing with intense pressure.

Probably overshadowed with his passing by Savage today and a little lucky not to give away a penalty late on when he sliced his leg into the dribbling Stevenage player. Shortly after helped relieve the late pressure on Reading by winning a free-kick after holding a few players off.

Femi Azeez: 6

Suffered from a slow start to a game again with Stevenage having much of the play. Did get a cutback to the front of the goal off that had to be desperately cleared from Savage’s early crossfield ball.

Rasped a good shot into the side netting from absolutely miles out around the half-hour mark when the Stevenage keeper had left far too much of his goalmouth unguarded. Launched the rebound from Ehibhatiomhan's good chance over the bar but came more into the game in the second.

Harvey Knibbs: 6

Playing as a singular 10 provides Knibbs with a bit more space to operate in, as well as licence to get closer to Sam Smith. The 4-2-3-1 Ruben Selles opted for today should have suited Knibbs well then.

Knibbs did get involved in some nice interplays today with Yiadom, Azeez and Smith, but suffered from the ball being in Reading’s territory for much of the game. Didn’t let that affect his mentality though and continued to put his body on the line for the team.

Booked late on for a sliding challenge on the halfway line that literally sent his opponent into the mud.

Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan: 7

Ran with purpose from the off. In contrast to Paul Mukairu’s occasional overplaying, Ehibhatiomhan runs in a very direct manner. Early on he burst into the box and got a cutback off, beating his man down the byline by poking the ball out in front of him and outmuscling him.

Created the best Reading chance in the first half all by himself when he latched onto a loose passback. Closed down quickly by the keeper, Ehibhatiomhan couldn’t poke it past the keeper but did well to reach it in the first place.

Lively at the start of the second half, and sprung Reading into an odd man rush before loosing Sam Smith for a shot. Grew in confidence as the game went on. Showed the inexperience of youth at times because of it, but mostly just improved Reading’s attacking intent and took some of the burden off Femi.

Knocked a good low ball across the front of the box that had to be desperately cleared away by Boro for a corner after a period of Stevenage pressure. Took down a ball forwards to make himself space for a shot really nicely late in the second half but dragged it wide.

Booked late for cynically dragging back his player to stop a stoppage time attack.

Sam Smith: 6

Dropped a little deeper and got more involved in the press at times in the early stages but spent another half not getting much time on the ball.

Got his first chance early in the second. Ran himself into a good spot for Ehibhatiomhan to thread him in during a counter attack but was on his weak side and sliced his shot wide.

Had the goalmouth gaping when he took down a ball over the top and rounded the keeper with it but delayed his shot too long and saw it put out for a corner by the defender over the line.

Helped Reading to win a corner a few minutes later with energetic pressing and harassing of his defender. A more involved performance but would have wanted to do better with his chances: the best he’s had in weeks.

Subs

Michael Craig: N/A

Brought on late for the booked Charlie Savage. Did well to disrupt second balls knocked down from crosses into the box and cleared it away a few times.


Average: 6.54/10

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