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Report: Royals fall to first pre-season defeat

23 July 2016

First-half goals win it for the Dons

Reading suffered their first defeat of the pre-season schedule at the hands of hosts AFC Wimbledon, who are preparing for their maiden League 1 campaign.

First-half goals by Dean Parrett and Dom Poleon were enough to give the Dons a 2-0 pre-season friendly victory at Kingsmeadow.

Manager Jaap Stam named a more experienced squad than that which won against the Dons’ League 1 rivals Swindon in midweek.  Captain Paul McShane was amongst the returning players, as was Oliver Norwood who lined up in midfield for the first time in pre-season after his time away with Northern Ireland at the Euros.

Midfield colleague Stephen Quinn, who was on duty with the Republic of Ireland this summer, also returned to the matchday squad and began amongst the substitutes.

The League 1 side were first to strike – and the game was barely 15 seconds old.  A ball forward was initially deal with, but then it was slotted through to Parrett who was bursting from deep.  He finishes with composure to give the Dons the advantage before the supporters had been given a chance to get comfy.

Tariqe Fosu was providing a threat on the right as the Royals began to control possession, and after a series of short passes with Norwood and Danny Williams, his left-footed effort forced goalie James Shea into his first save.

Chris Whelpdale forced Royals custodian Ali Al-Habsi into an important stop during a rare Wombles attack – his 25-yard attempt was dipping under the crossbar until the Omani got a crucial fingertip on it.

Despite Reading dominating the ball, it was the Dons that scored the game’s second – and there was nothing subtle about the build-up.  The ball was hooked into the left-hand channel and striker Poleon used his pace and a bit of initiative to squeeze the ball in from a tight angle.

Midfielder John Swift had a chance to notch his first goal in Royals colours; Norwood’s corner found its way through to the former Chelsea man, and his blasted effort was blocked out.  Cries of ‘hand-ball’ fell on deaf ears.

And then Fosu and Williams each had chances within a minute – firstly Watson slotted a ball down the outside for winger Fosu whose low drilled effort was kept out by goalkeeper Shea; Fosu then turned provider as he hung up a cross for Williams, who could only loop his header at the stopper.

Goalkeeper Shea was somehow dealing with everything the Royals were throwing at him – Williams slotted in Joey van den Berg but the Dutchman’s low drive was kept out.  Swift collected on the left and recycled the ball with a cross, but Williams’ volley from the edge of the area flashed a yard over the bar.

Reading could have cut the deficit within two minutes of the restart; Obita's deep cross found Williams, whose header in turn was destined to meet Swift in the six-yard box, only for a covering defender to get a toe to it.  Then right-back Tennai Waston, supporting the forward push, delivered a low centre which was just inches away from being turned in by Joseph Mendes.


Quinn and Deniss Rakels, both introduced on the hour, almost had an immediate impact.  Quinn's low cross from the left was just out of reach of blue-shirted bodies in the six-yard box, and Latvian Rakels put the ball into the path of Williams, only for defender Will Nightingale to make a lunging block.

And then Jack Stacey, who scored and assisted at Swindon in midweek, came as close as anyone when he struck the upright.  Obita, on the overlap, picked out the sub but his header back across goal struck the woodwork, and didn't quite sit up for Rakels to follow in.

Striker Rakels tried to set up Williams with a neat back-heel, but it didn't quite sit up for the midfield man.  Shortly before Williams had drilled over from the edge of the area.

That was the last chance of note as the hosts held on to win this friendly fixture - just one more pre-season game remains, as AFC Bournemouth come to Madejski Stadium next Friday night.

Full-time: AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Reading

AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Nightingale (Robinson 65), Kelly, Sweeney, Charles (Meades HT), Bulman, Parrett (Barcham HT), Reeves (Gallagher 65), Taylor (Elliott 65), Poleon (Fitzpatrick 65), Whelpdale (Beere 59).
Unused sub: Bursik.
Goals: Parrett (1), Poleon (20).

Reading: Al-Habsi, Watson (Dickie 80), Obita, Cooper, McShane, Norwood (Evans 60), Van den Berg (Kelly 75), Williams, Fosu (Stacey 60), Swift (Quinn 60), Mendes (Rakels 60).
Unused subs: Jaakkola, Tanner, Jules.

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