AFC Wimbledon paid the price for failing to take their chances throughout the 90 minutes as a clinical Reading side emerged as the 2-0 victors at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Our recent new additions of Josh Davison and Paris Maghoma were thrust straight into the limelight for this game, however neither were able to make a lasting impact despite showing some neat touches in the opening stages of the match.
In the end the quality of the Championship side told as Yakou Meite put the visitors in front after being put in behind the Dons’ defence.
A host of changes were made at the break as Wimbledon looked to turn the tide, however they largely struggled to break down a well organised Royals’ rearguard.
Nevertheless a chance was just around the corner for the Dons as Alex Pearce was brought down in the area, only for Zach Robinson to see his penalty well saved by Dean Bouzanis.
It proved to be a turning point and Reading would go on to double their lead later in the half as Jeff Hendrick fired home superbly from distance.
A cruel lesson for the Dons – and one that they will certainly want to learn from ahead of our final pre-season friendly against Oxford United on Saturday as we bid to finish our campaign with a flourish.
Johnnie Jackson made numerous changes to the side which started against Ipswich Town on Saturday, with the likes of Nathan Broome joining new signings Davison and Maghoma in the starting 11.
The game started at a bright pace despite the humidity in the air and it was the visitors who would fashion the first opening of the contest. Tom Ince twisted his way into the area before seeing his curling shot superbly blocked by Paul Kalambayi.
Wimbledon then created their first chance of the match. A free-kick came in from the right, with Will Nightingale meeting it with a header that flew over the bar.
However it was Reading who would take the lead on the night. Meite was sent in behind before he clinically slotted into the corner past Broome.
Maghoma looked assured in a deeper-lying midfield role, whilst the likes of Ayoub Assal and Dylan Adjei-Hersey showed good willingness to run at the Royals’ backline. However the Dons couldn’t get themselves back in the contest and went in a goal down at the break.
In response to a first-half lacking in clear-cut chances, Jackson threw on Robinson, Pearce, Luke Jenkins, Alfie Bendle and Ethan Chislett on for the second period.
Wimbledon were handed a golden opportunity to equalize after the hour mark. Pearce was hauled down in the box, giving Robinson the chance to score from the spot. However the striker’s effort was too close to Dean Bouzanis, who saved well.
Unfortunately the Dons were then made to pay for not taking their chance as the Royals doubled their lead. Hendrick was given far too much room to line up a shot and fired home from distance after being laid off by Ince.
The raft of second-half changes seemed to disrupt the rhythm of Wimbledon’s play, however they did come close to reducing the deficit through Chislett who fired in an angled drive that forced Bouzanis into a flying save.
Jack Currie also went mightily close to halving the deficit as he saw his late effort hacked clear off the line from a corner.
Sadly it proved to be too little too late for Jackson’s men as the Royals held out to claim a 2-0 victory that leaves Wimbledon looking for a winning end to their pre-season schedule.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Broome, Chris Gunter (Luke Jenkins), Paul Kalambayi (Ethan Sutcliffe), Will Nightingale (Alex Pearce), Isaac Ogundere (Kwaku Frimpong), Paris Maghoma (George Marsh), Ayoub Assal (Ethan Chislett), Luke McCormick (Alfie Bendle), Dylan Adjei-Hersey (Jack Currie), Josh Davison (Zach Robinson), Trialist (Trialist)
PICS: Ian Stephen