Hartson flowers

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The Independent Online

SUDDENLY Wimbledon, having gone 10 months without a home victory, cannot stop winning at Selhurst Park. If Carl Cort was the midweek hero in the Worthington Cup win over Sunderland, John Hartson, with two goals and an assist, was yesterday's inspiration.

SUDDENLY Wimbledon, having gone 10 months without a home victory, cannot stop winning at Selhurst Park. If Carl Cort was the midweek hero in the Worthington Cup win over Sunderland, John Hartson, with two goals and an assist, was yesterday's inspiration.

The scoreline suggests something of an equal contest, but it was never that. Bradford City's goals came in the dying minutes of each half and even their manager, Paul Jewell, admitted that Wimbledon should probably have won by more. "I couldn't believe our first-half performance. We looked a bit of a shambles," he admitted.

A national tabloid has dubbed Wimbledon's new signing, Martin Andresen, the sexiest man in football. Hartson during his career has carved out for himself a reputation as something of an ugly duckling - he has only just finished serving a suspension - but his performance, particularly in the first half, was more swan than duckling. Nevertheless his manager, Egil Olsen, wants more from him. "He was where I want him to be," the Norwegian said after the game. "But he's still a bit up and down and he can do more work defensively."

Hartson's purple patch began in the 22nd minute when he was the first to a flick-on from Kenny Cunningham's cross. The Welshman steadied himself before shooting low past Gary Walsh. Minutes later Hartson looked like he had grabbed a second when he netted with a superb chip from an acute angle, but the referee, Paul Alcock, disallowed the goal for a foul on Bradford defender Andrew O'Brien. Hartson eventually got his second, and his sixth of the season, with a deftly-taken header after another perceptive cross from Cunningham.

Bradford's Lee Mills put his side back in the game with a strike in first-half stoppage time, but after the restart Hartson once again proved the difference between the two teams. He showed great pace to get to the byline before he sent over a sublime chip which the unmarked Cort headed home.

Finally, Bradford gained a goal courtesy of a Dean Windass header. It was so late it was scarcely even a consolation - more a party bag for the losers.

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