Reading FC Match Report: 2019/2020 Season - FA Cup


READING 2 BLACKPOOL 2

Reading: S Baldock (56), D Loader (66)
Blackpool: N Delfouneso (28), A Gnanduillet (60)

Mark Bowen's decision to make eleven changes to his starting line-up may not have been entirely to the liking of many Royals fans, but it produced a closely contested and entertaining cup tie resulting in both teams going into the draw for the Fourth Round on Monday. After a fairly subdued first half which saw The Seasiders take the lead against the run of play, the second half exploded into life with a flurry of goals and a missed penalty in a twelve minute spell ten minutes into the second half. Both sides will look back on the game as a missed opportunity to progress to the next round and avoid the inconvenience of a replay.

With youngsters Howe, Olise and Burley given the rare opportunity of starting a first team game, Reading were significantly below full strength, but in spite of that controlled the game from the start with some neat controlled passing. McCleary cut in from the left but made a hash of his shot sending the ball high and wide. Baldock hit the target from outside the box but his effort was comfortably gathered by ‘keeper Howard. Boye had a shot blocked also from outside the box. Baldock hit the post from close range and then got behind the defence to cut back a superb cross from which Obita came very close to finding the net with a well struck first time shot. Reading were threatening to take the lead as Blackpool struggled to get out of their half. Then completely against the run of play they took the lead with what was from Reading’s point of view was a very soft goal. A cross to the far post was nodded down by Gnanduillet for Delfouneso to head past Walker from close range. There was not much power in the header and Walker might have been expected to deal with it. Also, allowing opposing forwards to win successive headers in the six yard box raises questions about the quality of the defending.

Lifted by the goal, Blackpool almost immediately extended their lead when Guy was allowed a lot of time and space to test Walker who on this occasion managed to get something on the shot to deflect it away for a corner. Reading came back with an attempt from Baldock, which was blocked, and a header from Rinomohta which was saved by Howard. Having dominated possession, Reading might have gone in two goals down at half time.

Reading started the second half with renewed intensity although Delfounseo had the first attempt on goal which Walker saved. On fifty-six minutes the impressive Olise threaded the perfect ball through the visitors defence for Baldock to hammer home a superb equaliser. Howard got a hand to it at full stretch but the power of the shot took it inside the far post. In a pre-arranged substitution Baldock was almost immediately replaced by Loader. The home fans were still coming to terms with seeing their team’s best striker leave the field when they found themselves a goal behind again. Gnanduillet outmuscled Burley on the half way line and outpaced the Reading defence to score with a scorching shot from just inside the box which gave Walker no chance whatsoever. It must have come as something of a relief for Mark Bowen when six minutes later parity was restored when McCleary found Loader at the near post and the Reading substitute flicked it inside the far post with deft touch.

The crowd had barely settled back into their seats when Blackpool, now with the bit between their teeth, won a penalty. The inexperienced Howe made contact with Gnanduillet as he was running away from goal. It was the only significant error the young full back had made all afternoon. Fortunately for him (and Reading) the usually reliable Gnanduillet opted for an arrogant chip over Walker which came back off the bar and was scrambled away.

The missed spot kick set up a finale which saw both teams fancying their chances of securing a victory in the remaining twenty minutes. Chances came at either end but Reading can count themselves unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in stoppage time – on two occasions. Rinomhoita and Richards appeared to be taken out when well placed to score in front of goal, but I suppose in the end a draw was a fair result.

With hindsight Mark Bowen might have opted for a slightly stronger bench as an insurance against this kind of result because the senior players included in the team proved not quite good enough to see off their lower league opponents. McCleary did not make the most of good openings in the first half, Obita had a solid game but still lacks a bit of pace, Boye charged around but his touch let him down at times, as did his passing, and Miazga was defensively sound but is not the sort of player who will offer much in terms of attacking options. Rinomohta as always was busy in midfield and held things together defensively which left a heavy burden on Olise as the main creative midfield option, a role in which it has to be said, he performed with considerable success for one so young. It will be interesting to see if Bowen strengthens his squad for the replay.

John Wells

This FA Cup game took place 24 days ago in the 2019/2020 season.