Dons grind it out

Wimbledon 1 Holdsworth 81 Nottingham Forest 0 Attendance: 9,807
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The Independent Online
ANY doubts about the Crazy Gang's continuing place in the Premiership were dispelled nine minutes from the end at Selhurst Park yesterday. It was then that Dean Holdsworth, a 70th-minute substitute, rose unchallenged at the far post to head in Alan Kimble's precise corner.

Holdsworth's 10th goal of the season should ensure his side's survival, but the header could not eradicate the thought posed by a dull match that they will remain members not so much of an elite as a league for journeymen.

The craziest thing about Wimbledon these days is their pitch. Several uses could be imagined for Selhurst Park yesterday, none of which involved football matches, unless the participants could use tractors. It is not a good advertisement for ground-sharing.

This may have been the reason for the match entering such a barren state after an opening 10 minutes during which both goalkeepers, Mark Crossley and Neil Sullivan, showed admirable awareness in dashing from their lines to deny Efan Ekoku and Bryan Roy respectively. It was not merely the pitch that was culpable, however. It was the stadium itself. There were fewer than 10,000 spectators - the seventh time this season for Wimbledon at home - and their lack of passion, as the Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, pointed out, made it like walking into a graveyard. Kinnear said he did not have a single player who wished to play for the club at the ground. He again raised the prospect of Wimbledon moving to a new 60,000-seater arena in Dublin. "We could be a force like Rangers or Celtic," he said. "We could buy the best players from Holland and Germany."

Pipe dreams maybe - given the FA's seeming intransigence - but Kinnear was right to say that something has to give.

Yesterday's result almost certainly ensured that Forest will go neither to Dublin nor anywhere else in Europe next season. They had the bulk of possession and the bulk of the territory but, ason so many other occasions this season, they were ineffective where it mattered.

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