Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship
READING 2 BLACKPOOL 3
Reading: S Dann (11), T Dele-Bashiru (21)
Blackpool: O Dale (69), J Yates (73), J Yates (85, pen)
Reading squandered a chance to break into the top six with a most spectacular capitulation against a Blackpool side who played with a level of intensity Reading never even came close to matching. Remarkably The Royals stunned the visitors by grabbing two early goals only to concede three in the last twenty two minutes of the second half.
Undoubtedly Blackpool are a well organised side with an abundance of energy and determination, but to a large extent Reading brought this result upon themselves. It is hard to tell why their level of performance dipped so dramatically in the second half, but Blackpool took full advantage.
Blackpool, dominating the opening ten minutes, fell behind to Scott Dann's glancing header from a Swift free kick. Ten minutes later Puscas took advantage of a mistake at the back and combining with Laurent created a fairly straightforward chance at the far post for Dele-Bashiru. With 'keeper Grimshaw stranded. Dele- Bashiru emphatically lashed the ball into the net.
It was harsh on the visitors to find themselves two goals down, and by half time they could easily have scored three themselves. They were denied by a brilliant double save from Southwood, and two outstanding last ditch, and perfectly timed challenges by Laurent and Ejaria. Rarely have I seen such commitment, awareness and determination from Ejaria.
Sadly for Reading all three qualities were absent, particularly in midfield, for most of the second half. The turning point in the game when Puscas found himself clear with only Grimshaw to beat. It was the kind of chance any striker would expect to tuck away but Puscas never looked as if he believed he could finish. That should have been three nil and game over.
From that point on Reading sat back and defended - badly. Blackpool were able to pass the ball and deliver crosses unopposed. Drinkwater, Laurent and Swift constantly conceded possession by dwelling on the ball and with poor quality passing. Blackpool swarmed all over a disorganised Reading rearguard. When Reading did win possession they immediately gave the ball away through poor decision making.
It was only a matter of time before Blackpool scored. Their first goal came after sixty- nine minutes. A half clearance was driven through a crowded penalty area by Dale with Southwood probably unsighted. The body language of the entire Reading team was shocking. Heads were down as if they had already lost. Maybe they were tired, maybe they didn't like the rain or maybe they didn't care. It was hard to tell, and as a Reading fan, hard to take.
Unfortunately for Reading, apart from Azeez replacing Puscas ( who went off to a sympathetic round of applause) Paunovic didn't have anyone suitablly experienced to freshen up the Reading midfield. To make it worse he took off Dele-Bashiru, the only player showing a bit of energy and invention.
The inevitable defeat was inflicted by two goals from Yates. A fine far post header, and a penalty won by Carey, rounded off a fine example how to lead the attack. How Reading are missing a centre forward of his calibre.
Having struggled against a very poor Barnsley side at the weekend, this performance and result was on the cards. Blackpool exploited all the weaknesses that have been evident in recent games. It would be wrong to be too harsh on a team with so many players unavailable, but after an away game at Blackburn and a home fixture against league leaders Bournemouth coming next, morale might be another issue to contend with. It is now more than ever a test of character for the threadbare squad.
This Championship game took place 95 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.