Kimble's kick finds little extra

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Huddersfield may have knocked out an under-strength Chelsea team of dubious commitment from the Worthington Cup, but they found Wimbledon a tougher prospect last night and after 90 minutes the teams were still searching to find who would reach the fifth round.

Huddersfield may have knocked out an under-strength Chelsea team of dubious commitment from the Worthington Cup, but they found Wimbledon a tougher prospect last night and after 90 minutes the teams were still searching to find who would reach the fifth round.

Riding high in the First Division and beaten only once in their last 10 games, Huddersfield took a first-half lead through Scott Sellars only to find that Wimbledon are not one of those Premiership sides who find little worth outside the name in the Worthington Cup. Semi-finalists twice in the past three years, the Londoners equalised through Alan Kimble's ferocious free-kick after an hour to take the game into an extra 30 minutes.

This was the third time these clubs had met at the McAlpine Stadium in knockout competitions in three years and before last night the score was two wins in the visitors' favour. The margin was not as stark as it seems, however, and in February 1996 Wimbledon had to come back from 2-0 down to force a replay in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

That match was played in a stiff wind but it was a gentle zephyr compared to the gusts hurling rain off the Pennines last night. Blowing diagonally and erratically across the pitch, it made passing a lottery, particularly as the players insisted on launching the ball into the unpredictable air.

Under the circumstances it was a surprise that any meaningful football was played, but both teams had opportunities in a first half that, like the wind, went in Huddersfield's favour.

Ben Thornley might have put the home side ahead after two minutes but sliced his shot, and four minutes later Dean Gorré's cross floated so elusively it went over Neil Sullivan and bounced provocatively in front of an uncertain Clyde Wijnhard before the Wimbledon keeper cleared the ball off the line.

It was hardly against the run of play that Huddersfield took the lead six minutes before half-time. Thornley was enjoying himself thoroughly on the left and when he got into space for the umpteenth time Carl Cort tripped him. The cross from the former Manchester United winger floated over the big men in the middle and to the back post where Scott Sellars side-footed in.

Wimbledon's attack had barely figured until this point, Carl Leaburn's header flashing narrowly wide after 36 minutes, but they were desperately unfortunate not to equalise seconds before the interval. Jason Euell crossed from the left and Walid Badir's header hit both posts before bouncing clear.

It was a lucky escape for Huddersfield, who found themselves pinned in the area after half-time, and the visitors got the equaliser their pressure deserved after 60 minutes. Jon Dyson, a half-time substitute, fouled Marcus Gayle and with the elements behind him, Kimble cracked a ferocious free-kick that was still rising as it flashed past Nico Vaesen 30 yards away.

Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Vaesen; Jenkins, Monkou (Dyson, h-t), Gray, Vincent; Gorre, Irons, Beech (Sellars, 33), Thornley (Armstrong, 80); Wijnhard, Stewart. Substitutes not used : Edwards, Dyson, Margetson (gk).

Wimbledon (4-3-3): Sullivan; Cunningham, Blackwell, Thatcher, Kimble; Euell, Roberts, Badir; Cort, Leaburn (Hughes, 79), Gayle. Substitutes not used : Willmott, Francis, Andersen, Heald (gk).

Referee : J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

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