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Blackpool Fans Verdict: Much-Changed Royals Labour To Draw

How the Loyal Royals reacted to some of the key talking points to come from Saturday’s FA Cup third-round draw against the Tangerines.

I think we all expected changes to the team for the arrival of Blackpool after Mark Bowen stuck with the same 11 players for four games in a row over the festive period - and he did that to obvious success. And Bowen didn’t surprise us, bringing in 11 fringe players and academy graduates to the starting lineup.

I think it’s also fair to say that the wholesale changes took their toll on the quality of the performance. Reading were lacklustre throughout the whole game really with the second-string players such as Jordan Obita, Lucas Boye, Garath McCleary and Omar Richards failing to capitalise on a rare starting opportunity.

The Royals fell behind twice in the game, but responded well themselves with two cracking finishes from Sam Baldock and youngster Danny Loader - the latter being particularly naughty. We were also lucky not to go behind for a third time when Armand Gnanduillet saw his cheeky panenka penalty crash against the crossbar.

Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points after the game...

Wholesale changes

As previously mentioned, the majority of Reading fans should’ve been expecting a lot of changes from a team who’s played a lot of minutes over the crammed festive schedule. But maybe not everyone was expecting 11 changes.

Whether or not that was the right decision or not definitely split the opinion of the fans, too. With some saying it was the correct call to prioritise the league, and some thinking it was maybe a bit too much and that it showed a lack of respect to the FA Cup.

It definitely had a negative effect on the overall performance, and the fans certainly noticed that...

The goals

In a very dim overall performance from Reading, there were two stand-out moments. Both Baldock and Loader took their goals beautifully - Baldock’s an instinctive first-time finish into the top corner, and Loader’s a cheeky backheel which bamboozled the Blackpool ‘keeper.

In truth, the goals were literally the only thing worth cheering on Saturday afternoon but nonetheless they gave the fans a bit of excitement and something to be positive about. Here’s what the fans had to say on Twitter post-game...

Andre Burley

The FA Cup usually springs up good chances to give youngsters their first team debut, and Saturday afternoon was no different as young centre back Andre Burley became the 54th Reading academy player to make their way into the first team.

The match would’ve been a fantastic experience for the defender. He maybe didn’t have the strongest of games due to the stand-out performance of Blackpool’s Gnanduillet who caused not just Burley, but the entire defence numerous problems all afternoon.

However, it’s also great to see academy players make that transition into the first team and I hope it’s not the last time we see Burley and the other youngsters donning the hoops at the Mad Stad. And I think the majority of the fanbase agrees with me, although there were a few fans quick to point out Burley’s below-par performance...

Conclusion

A poor performance and a missed opportunity by a number of players to force themselves into Bowen’s first-team plans in the league. However, we’re still in the cup which is a positive and hopefully now our big guns will be fresh and ready to go for the game against Forest next Saturday - which is 100% a more important game than the FA Cup third round.

Onwards and upwards.

URZ