THE Dons reached win number 14 in solid if unspectacular fashion in a game almost as drab as the surroundings.
With injuries and suspensions taking their toll, Keith Ward stepped in at centre-back for his first appearance of the season, whilst Joe Sheerin started up front. The white kit got a rare outing in the "prison camp exercise yard" surroundings of downtown Berkshire.
Reading had the temerity to carve out a couple of early chances but shot wide. And the moment the Dons went in front in the sixth minute, the result was never really in doubt. As a corner was cleared, the resultant cross found Kevin Cooper at the back post. His shot was blocked, so he swung an excellent cross back over the keeper's head for Matt Everard to head home from two yards out.
The home side managed a few further chances in a lacklustre first-half, with Lee Carroll coming off his line well on a couple of occasions. At the other end, the Dons attempted to keep playing passing football on a difficult surface but clear-cut chances were hard to come by. Seb Favata shot over from outside the box and Michael Harvey pulled a low shot wide of the post. By far the best chance fell to Ward. Gavin Bolger's cross beat the keeper and just needed the slightest of nods home but the onrushing Ward somehow managed to flick his header wide.
It wasn't the prettiest half of football and the best entertainment was arguably provided by the shouts from the crowd: "Oi, keeper, you've got something on your foot" and "Number 4, you should be booked for that pass!"
Sheerin's hip prevented him from resuming in the second-half and Paul Scott entered the fray. Ryan Gray sealed all three points on 57 minutes. Cooper struggled to bring a cross under control and the ball fell behind, whereupon the winger ran on to the ball and cannoned it home off the keeper's hand.
Everard and Scott had chances from corners, while Bolger went close from a free-kick. At the other end, Everard and Ward marshalled the back four well and despite the home's side endeavour and willingness to chase the game, the points never really looked in doubt. Harvey continued to impress with his understanding with Ryan Gray and the midfield four coped comfortably with everything Reading could throw at them whilst creditably attempting to keep passes flowing going forwards.
A surprisingly sparse crowd went home happy with the result, but the general consensus from players and fans alike was that the performance was unlikely to win many prizes for style or artistic impression. Still, three points are three points and this was a banana skin successfully overcome. You can't expect to win every game playing champagne football and the mark of a good side, we're always told, is the ability to grind out results. These and other clichés saw the Dons cement their grip on the top of the table whilst expecting to produce more of this season's generally sparkling football back at Kingsmeadow against Hartley Wintney.