Football: Dons overcome the uproar

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon 2

Harford 29, Willis og 45

Leicester City 1

Lowe 25

Attendance: 7,683

PHEW, what a scorcher. Three men sent off and three goals scored in 20 minutes of uproar at rain-lashed Selhurst Park. Whoever said football down the bottom end of the table was no fun to watch?

These were two sides that desperately needed not to lose. Take Wimbledon. With two points from four games, John Scales sold off to Liverpool, Dean Holdsworth stripped of the captaincy after sticking in a transfer request, Warren Barton also on the 'I-want-away list' - the last fortnight has seen the club in meltdown.

So far this season there is not much to be said for the newly promoted Midlands side except that they urgently need to put something together soon. Sporadically, at least, Wimbledon look brave enough and good enough to get out of their serious difficulties, but Leicester already have the mirthless, struggling look of a side saying a long goodbye to the Premiership.

Both teams featured new men. Leicester rolled out the on-loan, widely travelled Franz Carr; Wimbledon introduced pounds 300,000 Alan Reeves.

They might be playing in a league in which million-pound deals are done every week and World Cup players are signed on yachts and private jets, but for Wimbledon and Leicester that's a party going on in another room.

Reeves was less of a force than their slightly-less-new signing, the marvellous Mick Harford, who arrived at Wimbledon three weeks ago. He was a star, and needed to be after Leicester, having looked the less spirited team, banged in the first goal - David Lowe smacking the ball home in the 26th minute.

Three minutes later, Harford headed home the equaliser from a long throw-in from Vinnie Jones. After that the real drama started when Jones and Lowe got involved in what refs always call an 'off- the-ball incident', though it seemed pretty tame stuff. That left Wimbledon without their great motivator and Leicester without their goal-scorer, and more was to come. Minutes later, Brian Carey got the big red one for a foul on Holdsworth.

On the edge of half-time a Wimbledon move down the right culminated in Jim Willis turning the ball into his own net to present the Londoners with the winning goal.

After the restart, things were comparatively quiet. Though Roberts was pulled back into defence, Leicester decided to push forward, albeit with more enthuisasm than accomplishment.

But Wimbledon regrouped calmly and solidly enough to keep the score where it was. They deserved to. And, after all, they have had plenty of practice over the years at life without Vinnie.