'There were no Churchillian speeches': Neil Critchley on what inspired Blackpool's heroic comeback against Reading
Neil Critchley always had total belief in his Blackpool side after they produced a heroic comeback to come from two goals down and beat in-form Reading 3-2.
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.
On Pool’s first-half display, Critchley said: “It’s always hard to predict you’re going to come from 2-0 down against a team in form, but if we carried on performing like we were in the first-half we knew we’d have a chance of creating an opportunity or two.
“I thought we were excellent in the first-half. We played some really good football, most of the play was in their half but we just failed with our execution in the final third.
“The goals we gave away were really poor, but I think that was the only two times they got near our goal other than one other opportunity. They didn’t really get in our penalty area.
“There were certainly no Churchillian speeches at half-time, it was just about reinforcing what we were doing and giving the players some belief to carry on the way we were playing.
“If we were to get the third goal in the game, we knew the game might change and it did.”
The Seasiders, as they so often have, showed great character in the second-half to keep plugging away.
In the end, it was an utterly dominant display from the men in tangerine, who unleashed wave after wave of attack on the Reading goal.
“People that have watched this team for a period of time know the heads of this group of players never drops,” Critchley added.
“We always fight, no matter what the scoreline. We always go right until the end of the game.
“We want to try and win every game, so when we get it back to 2-2 there’s no thought of holding on and settling for a point. We go and try and win the game.
“We’ve bounced back from a defeat at the weekend which we seem to do all the time and that’s testament to the group of people I’ve privileged to work with.
“We looked like a really good team. It had everything I’d want in a Blackpool performance.
“That’s good possession, controlled possession, calmness on the ball, good attacking play, counter-pressing really aggressively, good defending and organisation and that spirit, desire and will to win.
“I think our spirit wore them down in the end. They were tired and dead on their feet, but we definitely contributed to that.”
While debutant Owen Dale and two-goal forward Jerry Yates will get a lot of the headlines, and rightfully so, Critchley also reserved praise for goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw and Sonny Carey.
The latter was exceptional on his first start for the club, while Grimshaw made a vital stop at the start of the second half to stop Reading going 3-0 in front.
“Jerry is in form,” Critchley said.
“It was a fantastic cross from Owen, a real moment of quality and Jerry just pulled away from his marker and it was a great header.
“Jerry is in form at the moment with four in three and he’s hitting the back of the net now on a regular basis.
“As for Owen, we thought it was a good opportunity for him to come on and hopefully get us back into the game and bless him, that’s what he’s done for us.
“It’s a really good debut for Owen, but I thought Sonny Carey was outstanding and Grimmy makes a really big save for us when it’s 2-0, so there have been some big moments for some of our newer, more inexperienced players.”
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here