A goal and an assist for Armand Gnanduillet, the striker still found time to frustrate - Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's thrilling FA Cup draw at Reading

Despite bagging a goal and an assist, Armand Gnanduillet still found time to frustrate
Despite bagging a goal and an assist, Armand Gnanduillet still found time to frustrate
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Armand Gnanduillet has always been something of an enigma.

READ MORE: The Gazette's player ratings from Blackpool's FA Cup draw at Reading

Only he could score an emphatic solo goal, claim an assist and be virtually unplayable at times yet still manage to make Simon Grayson want to pull his own hair out...were he to have any, anyway.

Of course I’m referring to the striker’s cheeky/ambitious/foolish attempted penalty (delete as applicable) that surely would have sealed Blackpool the win had it gone in.

The stage was set for the Frenchman to slam home a powerful spot kick, just as he had done on his previous four attempts from 12 yards this season.

But instead of putting his laces through it and giving the goalkeeper little chance of making a save, the 27-year-old opted to chip his effort over the keeper, who had already decided to dive low into the corner.

When you attempt a ‘Panenka’, chances are you’ll either look like a fool or a genius. There’s no in-between.

Unfortunately it was to be the latter for Gnanduillet, who left the keeper floored only to see his chip cannon back off the crossbar.

To be fair, Pool fans know all about how memorable chipped penalties can be when they prove to be successful, i.e. Wes Hoolahan’s celebrated effort at Deepdale in 2007.

But Gnanduillet’s untimely strike against the crossbar meant Pool weren’t going to be the beneficiaries of a cup upset, not at this stage anyway, and were feventually orced to settle for a replay.

Is this an opportunity missed to cause an upset and put their name in the hat for the fourth round at the first attempt? Grayson’s men might not be so fortunate in the return fixture given Reading are likely to name a far stronger side.

On the back of the Royals’ hectic festive schedule, of which they won four straight games in the Championship, manager Mark Bowen opted to make 11 changes to his line-up.

It meant there was to be no Blackpool reunion for Charlie Adam, who has still yet to face up against the Seasiders since his departure in 2011.

But some things in life are just meant to be. Perhaps now we’ll see a memorable homecoming for the Scot at Bloomfield Road on January 14.

This tie probably ought to have been done and dusted with on Saturday.

While Gnanduillet’s embarrassment will continue to grab the headlines, the Seasiders missed other glaring opportunities to make life more comfortable for themselves.

Nathan Delfouneso, who grabbed the opener against the run of play by steering home from close range having latched onto Gnanduillet’s knockdown, was guilty of wasting a couple of other chances in the second half.

Pool started the game looking lethargic, which was probably not a great surprise given their miserable festive form that saw them lose three of their four fixtures.

Reading, on the other hand, looked bright and moved the ball well despite naming a side made up of fringe first-teamers and youngsters.

But once Delfouneso broke the deadlock on 28 minutes, the Seasiders took the initiative and looked confident for the remainder of the game.

Callum Guy was unfortunate not to register a second before the break, the midfielder seeing a low drive deflect agonisingly wide of the far post having wrongfooted the helpless goalkeeper.

Delfouneso shot weakly at Sam Walker at the start of the second half, a miss he would later live to regret when Reading levelled through the dangerous Sam Baldock.

The striker, who always seems to turn it on against the Seasiders, beat Ben Heneghan to the ball before arrowing a drive into the top corner. While it was a well-taken finish, Mark Howard might have a tinge of regret at not getting closer to his effort.

A mad 12 minutes then ensued, starting with Blackpool re-taking the lead as Gnanduillet surged through on goal before brushing off a defender and lashing an emphatic finish high into the roof of the net.

That lead lasted just six minutes, Reading’s Danny Loader – the man that replaced Baldock – executing a clever flick that wrong-footed Howard and dribbled into the far corner. Again, Howard will have been frustrated not to keep it out.

It went from the sublime to the ridiculous for Gnanduillet just 120 seconds later when the striker dusted himself off from being fouled in the penalty area to produce his outlandish miss.

Pool still had time to waste another chance, Delfouneso somehow being denied by Walker from point-blank range with just 10 minutes remaining.

The game fizzled out from this point onwards, although the Seasiders did find time to hand a late debut to new signing Grant Ward off the bench.

Elsewhere, Curtis Tilt was in outstanding form at the back playing as if he had a point to prove.

Strong in the tackle and utterly dominant across all facets of the game, Tilt was in imperious form. He delivered a performance that reminded us all that, when the defender is on his game, he’s the best player in Blackpool’s dressing room.

But he and his Pool teammates were left to reflect on what-might-have-been in what was a thrilling cup clash.

The Seasiders can take pride from this display, as they showed guts and determination every time they suffered a setback.

But let’s hope they’re not made to rue not getting the job done the first time round. It would be just typical for Pool to miss out on a money-spinning fourth round tie by losing the replay against a full-strength Reading side.