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📰 Royals come from behind twice to draw with Blackpool

Baldock and Loader strike for much-changed Royals in FA Cup

4 January 2020

Reading twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Blackpool at Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon, taking their FA Cup Third Round tie to a replay.

Nathan Delfouneso put the visitors ahead on the day, before Sam Baldock equalised early in the second half for the Royals.

Armand Gnanduillet put the League One side ahead once more shortly afterwards, before Danny Loader came off the bench to level matters and take the tie to a replay.

The team news saw a complete change to the line-up who took on Fulham on New Year's Day, with 11 of the 18 players in the squad being products of our Academy - and young centre-back, Andre Burley, played from the start to make his senior debut. Blackpool, meanwhile, fielded a full-strength side to take on the Royals - who sat 20 places above the Tangerines in the EFL ladder at kick-off.

A youthful Reading side started brightly at Madejski Stadium, pinning back their League One opponents and keeping up the pressure around their box. Sam Baldock glanced a header in towards Lucas Boyé, but Blackpool were able to clear.

The Royals were then able to recycle possession and Teddy Howe played to Garath McCleary on the edge of the area, whose shot with his weaker left foot skewed over the crossbar.

A clever run from Baldock saw him break free in midfield shortly afterwards, driving on towards goal and letting fly from 25 yards, forcing a low save to his left from Mark Howard.

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Reading kept up the onslaught as a Jordan Obita corner found stand-in skipper, Matt Miazga's head in the box - but he guided narrowly over the bar from 10 yards.

Blackpool took time to get into proceedings at Madejski Stadium, but began to see more of the ball midway through the half, as 14-goal frontman Armand Gnanduillet led the line up front for the Tangerines.

Reading continued to look the more threatening of the two sides, however, and McCleary showed tenacity and fleet-footedness to win the ball in midfield and make his way into the area.

He cut back for Baldock to shoot from close range, with Howard reacting quickly to tip the ball onto his post in Reading's best chance of the match to that point.

A well-worked passing move followed shortly afterwards when Andy Rinomhota split the defence to find Baldock, with one touch to Howe allowing the full-back to cross for Obita six yards from goal, with Howard intervening once again to save.

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For all of Reading's dominance in the first half-hour, it was the visitors who scored with their first meaningful attack on goal.

A high ball into the box was nodded back across goal by Gnanduillet into the path of Delfouneso, who bundled in past Sam Walker from close range to give Blackpool a shock lead at Madejski Stadium.

The visitors aimed to double their lead from a free kick soon afterwards, as Calum MacDonald swung to the far post. Ben Heneghan got his head to it, but it cleared Walker's bar comfortably.

The Tangerines grew into proceedings, buoyed by taking the lead, and went close again to adding a second before the half time whistle when MacDonald's low drive at goal was heavily deflected by debutant Burley, thankfully behind for a corner.

Reading had a chance of their own to level prior to the interval, when McCleary dollied up a cross to the far post, with Rinomhota coming in to attack it and forcing another low save from Howard.

It was Reading's half for chances created, but Blackpool took a lead into the interval at Madejski Stadium.

Half time | Reading 0-1 Blackpool

The second half started with the visitors making a quick break, as Delfouneso was played through on goal with only Walker to beat. His effort was tame, though, and the Reading 'keeper held on to save.

Boyé won possession in midfield shortly afterwards and burst forward, with Baldock and Obita in support. He chose to go into the box himself, but the ball was shepherded out of harm's way.

But Reading would eventually equalise early in the second half - with a fine team move to level proceedings.

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Omar Richards played inside to Olise in midfield, whose neat give-and-go with Boyé allowed the teenager to slide a defence-splitting through to Baldock, who struck first time from 15 yards beyond Howard and levelling.

Baldock was substituted shortly afterwards, with an hour in the bank on his return from injury - Danny Loader came on in his place.

Unfortunately for the Royals, their parity did not last long. A lung-busting run through into the attacking third from Gnanduillet saw him work his way into a shooting position, arrowing a strike into the top corner on the hour mark to restore Blackpool's advantage.

Reading put themselves on the front foot as they looked to reply once more, with Rinomhota trying to work his way into space in the box, being bundled over but the referee swiftly waved away Reading's penalty appeals.

The Royals equalised once more just seven minutes after going behind with a piece of brilliant trickery from Loader. A low ball from McCleary saw the teenager in space in the box, who cleverly flicked beyond Howard and in off the post to put Reading level.

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Moments later, Blackpool came forward again and won a penalty when Gnanduillet was brought down under the challenge of Howe in the box. He stepped up to take, and tried to be too clever with the finish as his attempted 'Panenka' style spot kick rattled the woodwork, with several Reading defenders putting their bodies on the line to block the follow-up and eventually clear.

Sone Aluko was re-introduced to Madejski Stadium after his loan spell in China, in place of Lucas Boyé as Reading began their search for a winner.

The game became scrappier as the half wore on, with neither side able to hold on to possession heading into the final 10 minutes of this Third Round tie.

Blackpool attacked from the left through Matty Virtue, who put a low cross in for Delfouneso to shoot from point-blank range, but Walker got down quickly to make a crucial save from the Tangerines' attacker.

A 55th Academy graduate would be introduced with six minutes remaining, as Ramarni Medford-Smith came on for Burley in defence.

Richards would be next to threaten for the Royals, making his way in-field from the left flank and finding space to shoot on his right foot. His effort was bound for the bottom corner, but Howard intervened to parry behind.

Five minutes were added on to find a winner, but a replay was the outcome of a frantic FA Cup tie at Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The teams will meet again at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday 14th January, barring a change for TV selection.

Full time | Reading 2-2 Blackpool

Reading: Walker, Howe, Miazga (c), Burley (Medford-Smith 84), Obita, Rinomhota, Olise, McCleary, Richards, Boyé (Aluko 68), Baldock (Loader 58).
Subs: Southwood, Blackett, East, Barrett.
Goals: Baldock (56), Loader (66).

Blackpool: Howard, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, MacDonald (Husband 71), Virtue, Spearing (c), Feeney (Ward 89), Guy, Delfouneso, Gnanduillet.
Subs: Edwards, Hardie, Kaikai, Nuttall, Sims.
Goals: Delfouneso (28), Gnanduillet (60).
Yellow: MacDonald, Tilt

Attendance: 10,181 (874 away)
Referee: Mr J Brooks


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