Neal Ardley felt that his players came up short against a different kind of pre-season challenge last night, but our manager said that he learned plenty from the friendly at Westleigh Park.
The 4-1 loss at Havant & Waterlooville was just Wimbledon's second defeat in the build-up to 2018/19 and the Dons conclude the pre-season programme with a match at Boreham Wood today (3.00 pm kick-off).
Speaking after last night's game, Neal said: "I have always said that I want to win all pre-season games, but sometimes it not the worst thing to go through adversity in your pre-season. I said before that it would be nice to fall behind in a game to see the reaction from the players. I thought for a 20-minute spell in the second-half we reacted, it was about all we had in the game. Apart from that spell, they were better in both boxes, certainly in our box. It was far too easy for them to get on the end of crosses and set pieces. They were a threat and credit to them. They played with a real intensity and asked questions of us that we had not been asked so far in pre-season. We did not have the answers, so we will go away and learn from it.
"We had played against teams who play possession football and we had been the ones causing problems with our intensity. We were up against a team here who played very high intensity football: they got at us early in the game, asked us questions, and we did not have the answers apart from in a 20-minute spell. I have learned loads from it about some of the players, including the young boys. I thought there were some positive performances out there, I will not name them, but they are in my head, and we learn from it.
"We win as a team and we lose as a team. Our decision-making was not great, our football at times was not great. We gave the ball away too much and we got punished for it. We did not defend our box well enough. If you put all of that together, you are not going to win games of football. When you play against QPR, Reading, and Brighton, they are different challenges. Sometimes games against teams lower than you in the pyramid are the harder ones. We've mixed the teams up and we are probably three players short within our squad. I think that showed in this game."
The picture above (taken by Adam Rivers, Pro Sports Images) shows Joe Pigott almost putting Wimbledon in front last night after Alfie Egan's equaliser.
Ticket prices for today's game at Boreham Wood are as follows:
• Adult – £12
• OAP – £12
• U16 – £6
• U5 – Free