Reading 2-3 Blackpool: Seasiders produce heroic comeback to beat Royals away for the first time in 41 years
The Seasiders produced a heroic comeback to become the first Blackpool side to win away at Reading in 41 years.
Neil Critchley’s men, who were utterly dominant throughout, found themselves two goals down at the half-time break after being punished for two uncharacteristic errors.
But the men in tangerine, who continuously peppered the Reading goal, eventually got their just reward in the second period.
It all changed when deadline day signing Owen Dale came off the bench to make his Blackpool debut.
The winger scored within five minutes of entering the fray to reduce the arrears, before turning provider for Jerry Yates to equalise.
Six minutes from time, Yates fired home from the penalty spot to score for the fourth time in his last three games.
More importantly, it handed Blackpool a richly deserved victory in Berkshire against a club they hadn’t beaten away from home since 1980.
Neil Critchley sprung another surprise with his team selection by making FIVE changes from Saturday’s slender 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Luke Garbutt was dropped for the first time this season, the left-back named among the substitutes and James Husband taking his spot in the side instead.
Elsewhere, Kenny Dougall replaced Kevin Stewart, who suffered an ankle injury during the second-half at the City Ground at the weekend.
Keshi Anderson, who missed out against Forest due to a family matter, returned to the fold on the left wing in place of Tyreece John-Jules, while Demetri Mitchell replaced Josh Bowler over on the right.
There was a first league start of the season for 20-year-old Sonny Carey, who started the game in a number 10 role behind Jerry Yates, giving Gary Madine a breather.
Dujon Sterling missed out again through illness, while Chris Maxwell (torn quad), Daniel Gretarsson (concussion), Reece James (foot), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), CJ Hamilton (foot) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring) all remain sidelined.
Reading, who began the day one of the league’s form sides with five wins from their last six games, were also without a host of names.
But the Royals named an unnamed side from their 1-0 win against Barnsley at the weekend.
The hosts were happy to concede possession to Blackpool in the early stages, albeit most of it was in their own half.
The Seasiders looked bright during the opening 10 minutes, working the ball well from back to front and getting into some positions.
But all of their good work was undone in the 11th minute when Reading took the lead on the first occasion they ventured into the Blackpool box.
It came after Kenny Dougall was penalised for a foul in a dangerous crossing position, allowing John Swift to provide a teasing cross for Scott Dann to glance home a header.
The in-form Royals hadn’t shown any attacking intent whatsoever early on, but they led with their first opening of the night.
Pool probably ought to have drawn themselves level eight minutes later, but Reading keeper Luke Southwood produced two saves in quick succession to ensure that didn’t happen.
His first stop was a parry from Jordan Gabriel’s swerving 20-yard effort, but his second one was the more impressive one as he got off the deck quickly to deny Jerry Yates on the rebound.
Blackpool would end up regretting that missed opportunity, as they would go on to gift the home side a second merely two minutes later.
It was all of Blackpool’s own making too, as Marvin Ekpiteta dilly-dallied on the ball before conceding possession barely a few yards outside the box.
George Puscas was the man to dispossess him, before laying it off to Josh Laurent who unselfishly did the same, putting it on a plate for Tom Dele-Bashiru at the back post to tap home into the empty net.
Despite the scoreline, the Seasiders were still playing fairly well, especially in attack where they were causing Reading problems.
On the half-hour mark, they had a penalty claim waved away when Demetri Mitchell was brought down in the box just as he was about to pull the trigger.
On first viewing, it looked as though the Reading defender got the ball, but having watched it on a replay it wasn’t quite as clear.
Bizarrely, the Seasiders continued to play the better football and regularly managed to pick out Keshi Anderson and Sonny Carey in-between the lines.
But Blackpool’s decision-making - their achilles heel this season according to Critchley - continued to let them down.
That was once again the complaint when, four minutes before the interval, the visitors squandered another chance to reduce the arrears.
It began when Sonny Carey, Pool’s standout performer in the opening half, slid in Keshi Anderson, who was too indecisive and took too long despite being in swarms of space, seeing his eventual shot well blocked.
Demetri Mitchell, meanwhile, fired wide from a free-kick right on the edge of the box, as Critchley’s men continued to pass up presentable opportunities.
It was almost goodnight Vienna within two minutes of the restart, but Dan Grimshaw stood tall to deny Reading a third.
It came after George Puscas had been played in behind Ekpiteta, only for the outstretched right leg of Grimshaw to come to Blackpool’s rescue.
There was a brief moment of drama when Yates was booked, rather than awarded a penalty, after going to ground having nipped the ball past keeper Southwood.
It resulted in some drama between the two sets of players, who were involved in a melee before play eventually resumed.
To Pool’s credit, they continued to probe and pepper the Reading goal, but the end result was all too familiar.
Carey, once again the creator, picked out Demetri Mitchell in space down the right, only for the winger to shoot straight at Smallwood from the angle.
Mitchell was involved in the thick of the action once again a minute later, when it was his turn to be shown a yellow after going to ground in theatrical fashion following a coming together.
The Seasiders had been absolutely camped in the Reading half since the interval, but they were unable to break down a stubborn and resilient backline.
Chances continued to come and go, as Yates could only get the slightest of touches on Husband’s deflected cross from the left, but not enough to steer it towards goal.
Critchley turned to the bench midway through the second period to try and change things up, bringing Owen Dale on for his debut and Josh Bowler for Anderson and Mitchell respectively.
Barely five minutes passed and Dale managed to do what his teammates couldn’t, convert one of Blackpool’s many chances to net on his first outing.
The winger took aim for the edge of the box, rifling home past Southwood who was unsighted after Dale’s effort took a slight deflection.
Four minutes later, Dale was involved again as Blackpool completed a remarkable comeback to level things up.
The former Crewe Alexandra man dinked inside from the left and provided a teasing cross which was stuck away in clinical fashion by Yates, for the striker’s third goal in as many games. It was Shearer-esque, it was that good.
From this point onward, there was only one side looking to win the game, the Seasiders laying siege to the Reading goal.
James Husband had a shot saved from a tight angle, before Carey’s curling free-kick was parried away by Southwood.
With six minutes left on the clock, they were given a priceless chance to get the third goal their dominant display richly deserved.
Carey, who was playing like a prime Juan Roman Riquelme, was scythed down in the box and the referee - finally, after three or four strong appeals - pointed to the spot.
Yates stepped up and fired home, albeit Southwood got a strong hand, to net his fourth goal in his last three games.
Barring some half-hearted penalty appeals - this time for the home side - the remainder of the game passed fairly uneventfully, in complete contrast to the rest of the game.
Critchley and his players celebrated passionately with the hardy band of away fans, who left the ground chanting “are you watching PNE?”
Bring on Saturday...
Reading: Southwood, Yiadom, Dann, Moore, Rahman, Drinkwater, Lauren, Dele-Bashiru (Clarke), Ejaria, Swift, Puscas (Azeez)
Subs not used: Rafael, Holmes, Ashcroft, Camara, Ehibhatiomhan
Blackpool: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Mitchell (Bowler), Carey, Anderson (Dale), Yates (Madine)
Subs not used: Moore, Connolly, Garbutt, John-Jules
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
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