Earle slides in

Wimbledon 1 Earle 83 Blackburn Rovers 1 Kimble og 27 Attendance : 7,105
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The Independent Online
IF WIMBLEDON'S manager Joe Kinnear and Blackburn's supremo Kenny Dalglish are really in the frame to take over Jack Charlton's job, this grotesque match hardly advertised their respective claims.

In a torrential rain-storm which Dublin citizens might dismiss as a shower, neither side showed the ability to master the conditions, nor indeed much appetite for the win that would have ended their dismal runs.

The draw meant that Blackburn have yet to win away from home this season, while extending Wimbledon's sequence without a victory to 14. If there were any morsels of consolation to be had, Wimbledon could claim them for their second-half comeback and equaliser after they had gifted Rovers a bizarre lead in the 26th minute.

Alan Kimble's interception of an Alan Shearer cross sent the ball skidding past goalkeeper Paul Heald, and although it slithered on and crossed the line, Heald tried to scoop it out only for Tim Sherwood to make the referee's decision easier by bundling both ball and keeper back into the net.

There was no denying that Blackburn deserved the lead. Shearer had forced Heald into a sharp save in the first minute, and Graham Fenton and David Batty also tested Heald's resolve in the wet. Rovers should indeed have killed the game off by half-time, as Fenton, sent through by Sherwood, shot wide of the target.

"We were a bit wasteful in the first half," Rovers' manager Ray Harford concluded, and as a former Wimbledon man himself, he must have known the price such charity exacts when facing the Dons.

Wimbledon's determination to get something from the game was symbolised by the appearance of Vinnie Jones from the substitutes' bench at half- time. The putative chat-show host let his tackles and long throws do the talking as the home side went in search of salvation.

In typical up-and-under style they forced any number of corners which usually resulted in 15 or more bodies flying around inside the six-yard box in search of a touch. But coherent moves were a rarity, among the exceptions being Kenny Cunningham's cross for Efan Ekoku's header, which Tim Flowers did well to save low down.

But with Wimbledon cranking up the pressure, Flowers allowed Oyvind Leonhardsen's shot to bounce off his chest and Robbie Earle slid in to knock the ball home. Nobody will be producing videos of this match.

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