The FA Cup returned back to the Madejski Stadium with Blackpool as our visitors, but there will need to be a replay to determine who goes through to round four.
Blackpool took the lead in the first half, with the Royals equalising through Sam Baldock. The visitors then scored again before Danny Loader made it 2-2. Blackpool did a miss penalty to secure their spot in the fourth round.
Mark Bowen made a lot of changes going into the game which gave youngsters a chance to show what they are made of. Here is what he had to say after the game, he spoke to the official club website and GetReading.
Bowen on the game
“I was just talking to Simon Grayson and I don’t think either of us are happy with a replay. In our respective leagues we’re both looking to push up the table so we could have probably done without another game.
”We made a lot of changes. I felt that the lads who had done so well over the Christmas period deserved a rest, physically and mentally, so that we’d be fresh going into the Nottingham Forest game next weekend here – which will be a big game. I made the changes, and I felt that we had enough to compete and get a result against Blackpool. And we started well.
“We were really in control of things in the first half-hour in possession. But then we were undone by their physicality for their first goal, we didn’t stop the cross and we got caught at the far post.
”In the second half some individuals got a bit tired and a bit sloppy. They missed a penalty, but I’ve looked back at some of the incidents and I think we had two cast-iron penalties that weren’t given.
”Time and time again in the third round of the FA Cup, if teams don’t do things right they get knocked out by lower-league opposition. But we showed a lot of resilience and character to come from behind twice against a team who were flying in their league not too long ago.”
Bowen on youngsters making their debut
”It is difficult for young players – if they come in to a more senior environment, and it’s just one of them coming in, it’s a lot easier for them to find their feet and blend in. If you have four or five coming into the starting line up, it can be difficult – there aren’t so many calming heads around you.
”But Andre Burley came on for his debut and did well. Michael Olise came into a different position in central midfield and did well too, setting up the chance for Sam Baldock.
”And then the likes of Ramarni Medford-Smith making his debut, Omar Richards playing, Danny Loader with a very clever finish too for his goal - he’s a very good young pro and he’ll fight for his chance.”
Bowen on Danny Loader’s goal
“He’s a clever player. The way Puscas, Baldock and Joao have been in the team he has had to be patient. He can come in now though and say come on, give me a chance.”
Bowen on having any regret over the changes
“No because my focus is on what’s best for the club. Over the last few weeks we’ve put ourselves within touching distance of a play-off place and it’s put us in the race over the back end of the season. I have to protect that position.
“When Burley went down, I had Blackett on the bench [to replace him] but if he went on and got injured I didn’t want to be waking up on Monday losing one of my players.
“We have a group now fresh and ready to go into the Nottingham Forest game. We’re not guaranteed to win that but I have to be mindful of the squad and I need to keep them as fresh as I can.”
Bowen on playing a similar side for replay
“Probably, yes. We might have McIntyre back and Aluko has only had three proper training sessions in the last six weeks. So we have number of players who will be wanting to play 90 minutes.”
Bowen on picking Walker over Southwood
“Walker has been waiting patiently as a number two so he deserved to be playing.”
Bowen on the strength of the squad
“You shouldn’t look too much in to the FA Cup third round because they are all difficult games. I said to the players - Blackpool had three things over us before we started the game.
“One - they’re coming to a nice stadium so they are motivated. Two they are playing a team which has made 11 changes so they’ll think they are taking the mickey out of us. Three - they are in an environment where not a lot is expected of them so they are the underdogs.
“We had to combat against that and had to be mentally strong. I’m pleased we came behind twice against a decent side like Blackpool. I would have liked to have won and am disappointed with the goals we conceded but overall we’ll come back and move on from this.”
Bowen on Nottingham Forest
”We’re still in the cup and now Forest at home next weekend is the important thing. We are in a good place in terms of our confidence, togetherness and where we are. So we have to make sure from Monday onwards, we’ll be building up to hosting Nottingham Forest. So bring it on.”