Football: Dons the undoing of Deehan

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. . . .3

Earle 37, 65, Holdsworth 75

Norwich City. . 1

Ekoku 6

Attendance: 7,206

SEVEN league draws, now defeat for John Deehan - how the mighty are fallen. It was only three months ago that we were marvelling at Norwich in the San Siro, but at Selhurst Park yesterday they were flattened, simply not up to the fight.

Deehan was clearly shocked, and well he might have been. Joe Kinnear, the Wimbledon manager, was justifably delighted: 'We were the bollocks today.' Indeed, Wimbledon were, never letting Norwich get into the fluent stride for which they were so recently known.

More performances like this, though, will only fuel talk of pending player sales at Wimbledon. However, anyone waving a cheque book in the direction of Warren Barton would have withdrawn it pretty sharpish yesterday as the blond full-back donated a goal after only five minutes with a woefully underhit back pass. Chris Sutton pounced ahead of Hans Segers, poking it forward for Efan Ekoku to tap in.

It was a miracle that Norwich managed to sustain their lead for as long as 22 minutes since Wimbledon came back with a vengeance, peppering the visitors' goalmouth for the remainder of the half. Mostly it was their hallmark long ball, occasionally swift passing moves on the break, but whichever way it came, Norwich needed their five-man defence and more. There were two goal-line clearances and two magnificent saves from Bryan Gunn before Wimbledon pulled out a well-versed speciality from their bag of tricks - the Vinnie Jones long throw. It came from the left, its length surprising Rob Newman who, back-pedalling, headed backwards into the goalmouth, where Robbie Earle rose unmarked to head home.

Norwich jettisoned their sweeper for the second half and managed to compete more in midfield but the Dons' grip remained relentless. They spurned chances but had so many some were bound to count. Two eventually did, the first directed in by Earle after Gary Blissett had mis-hit a shot before Dean Holdsworth robbed Newman and rifled in from a tight angle.

Segers taunted the opposition by juggling in his box, John Fashanu, Jones and Holdsworth all came close with late efforts, but no one minded the misses - this was Wimbledon's version of a football fiesta.