The first-team got their preparations for life in the Premier League off to a perfect start by teaching League Two's Wimbledon a footballing lesson. The difference in quality was clear for all to see as Reading ran riot in the second half. Brian McDermott selected 24 players for his match day squad and looked to give the majority of them 45 minutes.
First teamers such as Adam Federici, Mikkel Andersen, Joseph Mills, Jimmy Kebe, Brynjar Gunnarsson and Jem Karacan were all rested, while a few of the young players were given run outs.
The first-half team consisted of a familiar 4-4-2 with Alex McCarthy in goal Second-year scholar Niall Keown (Martin Keown's son) was given 45 minutes at right back and didn't look out of place alongside his elders, with his dad watching on from the terrace. Kaspars Gorkss led the defence impressively alongside Sean Morrison who made some well-timed tackles throughout and Ian Harte completed an untroubled defence.
Hal Robson-Kanu was the liveliest of the four in midfield and a constant threat as he attacked former Royal Curtis Osano down the left, Danny Guthrie made a solid debut and showed a nice array of passes while also linking up well with Jay Tabb. Garath McCleary was a little more quiet but seemed keen to get on the ball and appeared to have some pace to his game which could come in handy as the games go on.
The strike partnership between Noel Hunt and Adam Le Fondre worked well, Hunty came deep for the ball on occasions and reminded us all what an impressive leap he has on him. Le Fondre was at his best when it came to finishing off his chances, his second goal came from a nice slide-through pass from Gorkss as ALF dinked the ball over an onrushing Seb Brown.
The Royals' first may have been harsh on Wimbledon as Hunt went down easily for a penalty but that didn't trouble ALF as he slotted the ball home. Brown dived to his right as Le Fondre side footed down the middle of the 'keepers goal. McCarthy only had one or two saves to make but neither were troubling and as he kept his place for the start of the second half. Nicky Shorey came on for his second Reading debut and looked keen to impress some of the fans that were unhappy in the way he first left the club, and looked to push forward at every opportunity.
Alex Pearce made his job look easy in the centre of the defence as he partnered the impressive Michael Hector. Hec was calm and composed on the ball and liked to play the ball on the floor while also looking a threat from set pieces. Shaun Cummings came in at right-back and looked happy to get his 45 under his belt, Cummings linked well with Antonio as he has done in the past.
The midfield deployed in the second period were much more lively with Mikele Leigertwood controlling the play and Jobi McAnuff the tempo. Jordan Obita was out on the elft and fitted in superbly by making Osano look silly at times. Michail Antonio was hard at work on the right and was one of the most impressive players on the pitch, giving McDermott second thoughts for sure.
The strike duo of Jason Roberts and Simon Church worked magnificently as the latter fed off of Roberts' work. It helped that the Wombles' second-half 'keeper wasn't the most gifted of goalkeepers but you can't fault the effort in what was their first match action in over two months against underwhelming opposition. The third goal came from an Obita lob into the box which was right on Antonio's head, the winger still had to get enough power on what was a slow ball into the box as he guided his header into the left-hand corner. Antonio then turned provider as he raced down the right before chipping it to the far post where Church headed home from six yards. Perhaps the 'keeper could have done better as he didn't react too quickly.
The 'keeper will be disappointed with Reading's fifth goal as well; Roberts, desperate to join in on the celebrations, swivelled his man and had a left-foot shot, trickling at goal the trialist 'keeper spilt it right into the path of an onrushing Church to tap home. Great striker's instincts from Church as he grabbed his brace. Obita was next to get on the score-sheet as he drilled a half volley low into the ground and into the corner. The best goal of the day by a mile. Church then grabbed his hat-trick as Roberts grappled with a defender the ball ran through to the Welsh international who, with the 'keeper to beat, cooly finished to compl. Stuart Taylor, on trial, came on for the last 30 but hardly touched the ball while Karl Sheppard managed 15 minutes at the end but didn't have a sufficient amount of time to make an impact.
All in all it was a good start to pre-season from the Royal's but this was just a run out so expect more from some of the players as the games go on.