BY SAM SMITH
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was delighted with his young players after they helped the Dons to a 4-2 victory over an experienced Reading side on Saturday.
The South Londoners had been pegged back to 2-2 against the Championship outfit in their first game of pre-season, having led 2-0 thanks to goals from Kwesi Appiah and Joe Piggott. But Ardley put faith in several of the club’s youngsters and introduced them just after the hour mark.
And the decision paid off. Egli Kaja, 20, and Kane Crichlow, 17, each scored excellent goals to get Wimbledon’s 2018-19 preparations off to an exciting start.
Ardley said: “The young lads did brilliantly. I feared the worst with some of them on [against Reading’s experience] and some out of position but they grew, found their way in the first 10 minutes of them being on and when we counter-attacked they were really dangerous.
“Reading were starting to look stronger and the players who we purposely gave the extra 15 minutes to were starting to tire. Reading got their goals back – one from a mistake and one from good play. We have a few injuries so we had to put some of the young lads in.
“It was an entertaining game. There were loads of positives to take from it. I feared the worst because Reading were very strong in the second half and they got back into the game.
“Some of the things we have been working on in pre-season were there and the fitness levels look really good. I’m not one of those managers who say: ‘It’s only about getting it in the legs.’ You have to form winning habits and I thought we showed some of that today.”
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