I think we all expected Mark Bowen to mix it up on Tuesday evening for the trip up to Blackpool - as he did 10 days ago at the Mad Stad. The Royals lined up with eight academy graduates in the starting eleven against Blackpool, which included the entire back four - who were all very impressive in keeping a clean sheet.
This match was really all about the youngsters. Michael Olise was silky and smooth in midfield as he claimed an assist for Jordan Obita’s late goal, Tom McIntyre and Andre Burley were immense at the back, thwarting the dangerous Blackpool front line, and the two full backs were both sound defensively and threats going forward throughout.
All fans love seeing some of their own out playing on the pitch, and they love it even more when they put in a performance and a result that: a) gets the team into the next round of the cup b) continues the first-team’s unbeaten run and c) makes an incredibly long midweek trip to Blackpool worth it.
Here’s what the fans were saying after the game on Twitter regarding some of the key talking points...
This really was the thing that got the fans talking the most after the game - and quite rightly so. The team was very similar to the one that failed to deliver in the reverse tie, but they didn’t make the same mistake twice as a team packed full of academy players looked more than comfortable going toe-to-toe with a very good League One outfit.
Furthermore, Jeriel Dorsett became the 56th Royal to make the step up from the academy into the first team as he replaced fellow under-23 centre back Andre Burley in the latter stages.
It was great to see that we have an academy packed full of players who are able to make that jump into professional football, and the fans are certainly happy about that...
This result just shows what great depth we have in the squad/ academy to comfortably beat a good League 1 side away. Does make you question the quality of league 1 though! #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) January 14, 2020
Really good experience for some of the youngsters tonight too, keeps momentum going and positivity around the place high #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) January 14, 2020
Great to see the youngsters go through, and keep a clean sheet, seemed more composed than on 4 Jan #readingfc— Rich87 (@richiec87) January 14, 2020
For the first time since 2012, Reading are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions - anybody know what happened that year?
All tongue-in-cheek statements aside, that achievement is a true testament to the work that Bowen is doing with this squad - and hats off to him. The players look hungrier than we have seen them in a long time, and it tells you something when he can make 11 changes to an in-form team and still manage to get the win.
The fans are certainly enjoying this run of form and long may it continue...
Solid result, Bowen got his choices correct - first team still protected and rested, team on the night comfortable. Still wish Southwood was given a shot but fair play for a couple of important saves Walker. QUE SERA SERA #readingfc 9 Unbeaten all comps! https://t.co/75fm9bLi1i— Dave (@shakefon) January 14, 2020
Wonder what happened that year— Deck (@dsaunders_6) January 15, 2020
A good win tonight and some encouraging stuff from our youngsters and others fighting for a spot in the normal XI. Really pleased that Boye had a good game and we’ll now play either Carlisle or Cardiff in the 4th round. We are also now 9 games unbeaten in all comps #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) January 14, 2020
9 games unbeaten and reserves progressing in the cup. Who else was wrong about Bowen? ♂️ #ReadingFC— Erik O (@Orrgarde) January 14, 2020
Good win tonight from the boys. Will give the young lads and Lucas Boye the world of good! 9 unbeaten now. Bowen proving everyone wrong and the club certainty on the up! Long may this continue. Onto Millwall! ⚪️#readingfc— Dean Bennett (@DeanBennett1993) January 14, 2020
Dreaming of Wembley
The win on Tuesday night had the fans dreaming of a trip to Wembley - as does every single win in a cup competition.
Yes, it was only the third-round replay. Yes, the win was against a lower league team. But that was never going to stop the Loyal Royals from looking forward to May 23 - albeit with their tongue firmly lodged in their cheeks.
Here’s what the fans were saying regarding the possibility of another cup run and another ‘March to the Arch’...
Not happy with Bowen as manager whatsoever, how am I meant to afford 3 trips to Wembley this year? #readingfc— Tom Mitchell (@Tom_1871) January 14, 2020
We are already going up and now we are gonna win the FA Cup too? Just too good. #readingfc— Max (@_MaxRFC) January 14, 2020
Has a club ever won the FA Cup and the playoff final in the same season? Asking for a friend #readingfc— Dave (@shakefon) January 14, 2020
Scenes when we have to play the reserves in the FA Cup final because the Play Off Final is two days later.... #readingfc— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) January 15, 2020
A truly professional performance, continuing an unbeaten run and seeing us through to the next round of the greatest cup competition in the world - do Tuesday evenings in Blackpool get much better than that?
Millwall up next in the league in front of what’s going to be a decent away following.
Onwards and upwards.