Football: Creation of Collymore

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The Independent Online
FOLLOWING A summer of discontent and controversy, Stan Collymore enjoyed a winning comeback to Premiership action when Aston Villa won by the only goal scored at Sheffield Wednesday to go top of the table after three games.

It was his striking partner, Julian Joachim, who grabbed the goal after the Owls' Andy Booth had had a goal disallowed for offside. Collymore played the ball to the former Leicester striker on the edge of the Wednesday area and Joachim turned swiftly to half-volley beyond Kevin Pressman, the Wednesday goal keeper.

How Danny Wilson, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, must be sick of the sight of spurned or recuperating strikers putting their game back together at the expense of his defence. On the opening day of the season, at Hillsborough, Ian Wright scored the only goal of his first competitive game for West Ham. And now Collymore, a hugely under- productive striker since his move from Liverpool to Aston Villa in May 1997 (the pounds 7m fee has been repaid at the rate of pounds 1m per goal), gave evidence of his replenished batteries.

John Gregory, his manager, had said that with no Dwight Yorke, departed for Manchester United, yesterday's match was Collymore's final chance to redeem himself. He will have gone some way to doing that. But for Wednesday, another toothless display in attack at home must be cause for concern.

Leeds United are becoming a mean machine away from their Elland Road home and followed their goalless draw at Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season with a 1-1 draw against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

The Dons were second best for most of the first half and five minutes before half-time the manager Joe Kinnear took off their striker, Efan Ekoku, replacing him with Carl Leaburn.

Leeds had started brightly and Neil Sullivan in the Wimbledon goal twice had to save from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. And at the start of the second, when Clyde Wijnhard beat Sullivan, Andy Roberts cleared off the line.

The Dons were riding their luck but were thrown off it in the 61st minute when the ball dropped at Lee Bowyer's feet outside the area and the former Charlton midfielder unleashed a volley that flew into the top right hand corner.

In the three previous Wimbledon-Leeds games played since Graham took over at Elland Road, the Yorkshire club had gained just one point and were prevented from doing anything more than doubling that total when the Dons equalised 10 minutes later.

Michael Hughes, the former West Ham schemer, picked up a loose ball in midfield and as the Leeds defence backed off fired in a shot from 30 yards past Nigel Martyn into the top right-hand corner of the net

In the Nationwide First Division, Norwich City lost their 100 per cent record after a 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion. Fabian De Freitas, the former Bolton forward, clipped the Canaries wings with two goals in the second half.

Ten-man Sheffield United - Lee Sandford had been sent off after his second booking in the 88th minute when the Blades were 2-1 down - fought back to equalise in the 90th minute through Gareth Taylor at Bolton Wanderers. And Alan McLoughlin's 90th-minute penalty for Portsmouth at the McAlpine Stadium thwarted Huddersfield Town, who had twice trailed Pompey before taking a 3-2 lead in the 89th minute through Wayne Allison.

The big game in the Second Division saw Fulham and Bournemouth, two sides with previously perfect starts, share a goalless draw at Craven Cottage and Notts County, who conceded seven goals to Manchester City in the Worthington Cup a couple of weeks ago, yesterday held them to a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane, Shaun Goater getting City's equaliser in the 90th minute.