Paul Ince bemoans ‘naive’ defending as Reading slump to Blackpool loss

Reading v Birmingham City – Sky Bet Championship – Select Car Leasing Stadium
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Reading interim manager Paul Ince labelled his team’s defending as “naive” after seeing the Royals slump to a 4-1 defeat at his former club Blackpool.

The visitors came into the match on the back of a three-game unbeaten run that had eased their relegation fears, but an awful second half means they return to Berkshire without any points to help their survival bid.

Lucas Joao had opened the scoring for Ince’s team, but Blackpool levelled before the interval through Marvin Ekpiteta. Gary Madine’s close-range header on the hour mark then turned the tide of the contest in favour of the hosts before late strikes from Shayne Lavery and Josh Bowler sealed the win.

This was particularly frustrating for the new Reading boss who said his players would not have been surprised by the Seasiders’ style of play.

“It’s disappointing,” said Ince, who was sacked by Blackpool in 2014 after less than a year in charge. “Because we spoke before the game about how we felt Blackpool would play, hitting it up to the big guy Madine.

“There were no surprises there really, but we still let it happen.

“We got the first goal and at that stage we looked comfortable.

“We have been conceding soft goals, though, and silly mistakes have been made and were made again today.

“It was never a 4-1 game, but we are where we are.

“It’s tough because we’re missing a lot of players, and we’re playing players out of position.

“At times we played some nice football, but again we’ve been naive defensively.”

The result leaves Reading six points clear of the Championship drop zone.

Ince added: “This season is going to go to the wire, so it’s up to us now to keep that belief and that confidence.

“There have been a lot of positives for us to take from today, despite the result.

“We just have to do our jobs, particularly at homes games when we’ve got our brilliant fans behind us.

“All we can do is just keep fighting and we’ll be okay.”

Blackpool manager Neil Critchley concurred with his opposite number that the scoreline flattered his Blackpool team, who move up to 14th in the table.

The game was tight until Madine climbed above Michael Morrison to head home, and late goals from substitute Lavery and Bowler added gloss to the final score.

And although his team fell behind to Joao’s strike, the Blackpool boss always backed his players to mount a comeback.

Critchley said: “I’m not sure that 4-1 was the right scoreline if I’m honest, but we’ll take it.

“I thought the game was still in the balance at half-time.

“We managed to get our second goal just at the right time, and that set us up for the win.

“Time and again this season so far, the lads have proved that they are capable of responding to setbacks, and that was the case again here.

“I’ve got a great bunch of honest professionals here, and I love working with them.

“It was nice to give our supporters four goals to celebrate, too.

“The Championship is a really tough league as I keep saying, but we’ve been competitive in every game this season. That’s been the message to the players anyway.”

Critchley is also hopeful such a big win can be a turning point in his team’s season, having struggled for consistency for much of the campaign.

He added: “With a few little adjustments here and there, we can be an even better team.

“Psychologically this is a huge win too, against a very strong Reading team.

“They’ve got some terrific players, and that included on the bench.”

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