Confidence boosting victory for Dons
AFC Wimbledon earned a first pre-season victory in style this afternoon with Championship side Reading deservedly beaten.
Dean Parrett opened the scoring after just 14 seconds, before a goal of real quality from Dominic Poleon, and the 2-0 win certainly never flattered the Dons.
Though no pre-season result is ever worth getting carried away with, this was a considerable step forward from Dover and Margate. The manner of victory also offered plenty of encouragement as Wimbledon combined solid defending with swift counter-attacks that took Jaap Stam’s side by surprise.
Neal Ardley had to do without captain Barry Fuller, who missed out due to injury, and that meant Will Nightingale filled in at right-back. Trialist Sean Kelly was deployed on the other flank with the returning Darius Charles partnering Ryan Sweeney in central defence.
The Dons made a whirlwind start with midfielder Dean Parrett taking just 14 seconds to mark his first appearance at the Cherry Red Records Stadium with a goal. There was barely time for supporters to take their seats before Parrett applied a clinical finish past helpless Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi after a lovely ball through by Lyle Taylor.
Reading gradually started to settle into the game after the shock of falling behind so early on and they enjoyed plenty of possession. However, Charles wasted little time showing his defensive qualities early on after returning from injury, his heading ability proving more than useful.
minute with another devastating break, something that was an impressive feature of the home side’s early play. Though it was an excellent ball from Kelly, there was still plenty of work to do when Dominic Poleon took possession on the left flank. However, he twisted and turned past his marker to create space, before firing home superbly from an acute angle. It was 2-0, but Wimbledon were full value for it as Neal Ardley’s men were the only side providing a cutting edge. A long-range strike from Chris Whelpdale had to be well turned over by the Reading goalkeeper.thWimbledon earned the cushion of a second goal before the 20
The visitors did respond to those early setbacks with some attacks of their own, but Wimbledon were in no mood to let them back into it easily. James Shea pulled off a fine save to deny Tarique Fosu, who had burst through to find space in behind on the right. Brilliant defending from Ryan Sweeney then stopped Joseph Mendes from going through on goal. Just before the break Reading really upped their tempo and it needed Shea to pull off a top-class save to stop Joey Van Den Berg from halving the deficit. However, it was far from backs to the wall stuff and a 2-0 half-time lead was merited due to the quality of Wimbledon’s attacking play.
There was no raft of half-time changes from Neal Ardley as he looked to get more game-time into his key players. Just two changes were made with Jon Meades and Andy Barcham replacing Darius Charles and Dean Parrett. Though Reading attempted to put more possession on at the start of the second-half, Wimbledon looked fairly comfortable and they continued to cause problems for Reading at the other end. Lyle Taylor was sent racing down the right by a fine ball from Nightingale and his superb cross was just begging to be finished off, but was no one was able to do the honours. On the hour came another change with Whelpdale substituted as a precaution after an earlier clash and Tom Beere entering the fray.
minute with Dan Gallagher, Tom Elliott and David Fitzpatrick entering the fray for Jake Reeves, Taylor and Poleon. Shea then made an even better save to tip a header from Jack Stacey onto a post, but the flag had already gone up for offside.thAs Reading started to apply a bit more pressure, Shea was required to gather a looping header from Jake Cooper. Then Nightingale made a superb tackle to deny Reading fashioning a chance, before he departed to make way for Paul Robinson. Ryan Sweeney also impressed on the day with a number of impressive interceptions and blocks to deny Reading. Three other changes were made in the 65
Reading made little impression in the final stages after Stam made a raft of substitutions and the Dons coasted to a victory that sets them up nicely for a meeting with Premier League Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Will Nightingale (Paul Robinson), Sean Kelly, Ryan Sweeney, Darius Charles (Jon Meades), Dannie Bulman, Dean Parrett (Andy Barcham), Jake Reeves (Dan Gallagher), Lyle Taylor (Tom Elliott), Dominic Poleon (David Fitzpatrick), Chris Whelpdale (Tom Beere).
Picture credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.