Football: Euell enjoys home comforts

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon 2 Coventry City 1

WHILE THIS season has already seen the transfers of three multi- million pound strikers, namely Dwight Yorke, Dion Dublin and Duncan Ferguson; Wimbledon, typically, could on Saturday night boast a match-winner in Jason Euell, who was free and is not leaving.

Euell scored both Wimbledon's goals as they fought back from the disadvantage of tired legs after their Worthington Cup win last midweek against Chelsea, which accounted for their lethargic start to the game. This problem was compounded by conceding a penalty early in the second half, as Chris Perry brought down Darren Huckerby, with Gary McAllister calmly converting.

Euell, 21, has been with the club since he was 12 and, when he signed professional terms three years ago, he was eulogised by the effusive Wimbledon chairman, Sam Hammam, as being "better than Pele."

Saddled with that, it might have been time for Euell to pack up and go home, and he also had an injury-affected time last season. He has recovered, however, to play in all but one of Wimbledon's league and Cup games this season.

Wimbledon's manager, Joe Kinnear, praised Euell for the marking job he did on Chelsea's Dennis Wise last week and he had every reason to praise him again on Saturday, after switching him to his natural striker's position for the second half in an adept tactical change.

Kinnear said: "Jason is Wimbledon through and through. He's on a six- year contract and he's going nowhere." The manager added that he had played Euell mostly in midfield recently to protect him, explaining: "Last season he was getting kicked about up front and was missing games through injury."

Euell had the simple job of scoring after 71 minutes, when Ben Thatcher's pass found him unmarked in the penalty box, and 13 minutes later he showed more of his technique when he controlled a Michael Hughes pass and beat Paul Williams in the same movement to again drive past Magnus Hedman for the winner.

That turn of events did not leave Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, a happy man afterwards, as he dwelt on the combined effect of throwing away a lead, seeing a concussed Roland Nilsson carried off near the end, and what he deemed, sarcastically, "a unique performance by the referee". He added: "It will live in everyone's memory."

Strachan, who saw his team have most of the possession but fail to create many chances, felt that he should have had two more penalties, for a handball by Thatcher and for another foul on Huckerby. With Coventry suffering both their annual relegation fight and from the after-effects of losing Dublin, they could do with another striker - someone like Euell, perhaps?

Goals: McAllister (pen 54) 0-1; Euell (71) 1-1; Euell (84) 2-1.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Perry, Blackwell, Thatcher, Cunningham; Earle, Euell, Hughes, Ardley; Gayle (Ainsworth, h-t), Ekoku. Substitutes not used: Heald (gk), Kimble, Roberts, Kennedy.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Williams, Shaw, Nilsson (Breen, 82), Edworthy; McAllister, Boateng, Telfer, Froggatt; Whelan, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Jackson, Soltvedt, Daish.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

Bookings: Wimbledon: Sullivan, Euell. Coventry: Boateng, Edworthy.

Man of the match: Euell.

Attendance: 11,717.