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08:14 17th July 2013

Late strike halts Royals

Blackpool 1 (Barkhuizen 75) 
Reading 0

The Royals suffered their first defeat of the season thanks to a solitary second half strike by substitute Tom Barkhuizen at Bloomfield Road this afternoon.

Jem Karacan had hit the woodwork with a curling effort from distance in the first half, and Matthew Gilks had produced a superb stop to deny Royston Drenthe from a free kick.

But against the run of play Barkhuizen stole in to settle a disjointed affair, slotting the ball wide of McCarthy with only 15 minutes left on the clock.

Blackpool maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign, while the Royals will look to bounce back in a Capital One Cup clash at Peterborough on Tuesday night and then at Yeovil in the league next weekend.

Blackpool: Gilks, Broadfoot, Robsinson, Basham, MacKenzie (Harris 72), Bishop, Ferguson (c), Angel, Grant (Barkhuizen 65), Delfouneso, Fuller (Chopra 65).
Subs: Halstead, Caton, Banvo, McGahey.
Yellow: Basham

Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Bridge, Morrison (c), Pearce, Karacan, Guthrie (Williams 81), Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 86), McCleary (Le Fondre 57), Drenthe, Blackman.
Subs: Federici, Kelly, Gorkss, McAnuff.    
Yellow: Guthrie

Referee: Mr D Webb 
Attendance: 12,928

First half  

The game started scrappily in blue skies but a blustery wind and the Royals had the first shot at goal, Hal Robson-Kanu cutting inside to scuff a left-footed effort well wide from a good 25 yards out.

Fuller and Delfouneso linked up well at the other end for the latter to float a testing cross into the Royals box, but the Reading defence hacked it clear with relative ease.

Jack Robinson then raced onto an overlap down the left to swing another dangerous cross towards the far post, but Bridge did well to head behind under aerial pressure from two Blackpool players arriving late into the box.

And Paul Ince's side were focussing their attacking moves on aerial delivery into the box, a long throw bobbling between the bodies of Morrison and Fuller before trickling behind for a goal kick.

Fuller then tested McCarthy, 18 minutes into the half, with a long-range left-footed effort that the Royals stopper saved comfortably low to his right. And the best chance of the half came after a flowing move from the hosts, Angel Martinez dinking a lovely ball into the box for Bishop to head just wide of the left pot. 

The half continued in a scrappy vein, typified by a break away move that gave McCleary the chance to slide a pass in to Drenthe, but it was overhit and the opportunity fizzled out with a goal kick the end result.

Three minutes before the break, Drenthe won a free kick and swept it into the Blackpool box himself. Karacan turned it back across the six yard box with a left boot but no-one could turn it home.

A corner followed shortly after that and it was cleared out to Karacan again, in space on the edge of the area. He took a touch to control it but saw his right-footed drive charged down.

Reading were ending the half well and Drenthe forced Gilks into a spectacular save with a well-struck free kick that arced around the Tangerines wall and sailed towards the top right corner before the Blackpool stopper's flying save.

Reading didn't want to hear the half time whistle and, from the resultant corner, the ball fell to the feet of Karacan again who, from 22 yards out curled a sublime left-footed effort beyond Gilks but against the stanchion and the home side escaped again.

Second half

Blackpool began the second half brightly, Bridge charging down a Bishop strike and McCarthy easily gathering an effort from distance from Grant. 

Fuller then got a much cleaner contact on a left-footed effort that he arrowed into the body of McCarthy.

At the other end, Guthrie delivered a threatening free kick from the right which Hal Robson-Kanu got a good head to, but the Royals midfielder couldn't his header on target and it ricocheted to safety.

Then, Drenthe came to life down the right flank and reaching the byline he arrowed a good low cross in to substitute Alfie at the near post who almost scrambled it over the line. Somehow the hosts kept it out despite Le Fondre and Blackman coming close to bundling it home.

Guthrie then found Le Fondre lurking on the penalty spot, but the striker couldn't get an overhead kick away as he twice shaped to hook it goalwards.

The deadlock was broken with 15 minutes remaining and substitute Tom Barkhuizen was the man to strike. Bridge was dispossessed and Morrison lost his footing as the substitute scuttled into the Royals box and calmly slid the ball past McCarthy for 1-0.

Reading sought a quick reply. Bridge fed Guthrie who wriggled his way to the byline and cut the ball back well, but it was an orange shirt who met it and lashed it clear.

Nigel Adkins threw Danny Williams and Pavel Pogrebnyak on in search of an equaliser, and Blackman's floated cross to the far post was headed just over by the Russian striker with only two minutes of the match remaining.

But it wasn't to be and Reading had suffered their first defeat of the season at Bloomfield Road.