Football: Fashanu accused after 'elbow' floors Moran

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . 0

Wimbledon. . . . . . . .0

WIMBLEDON left their all-too- familiar impression on this tawdry affair and a Blackburn Rovers side striving with scant conviction to stay in touch with the Premier League championship issue.

Deprived of their leading goalscorer, Alan Shearer, by a recurrence of knee trouble, Blackburn lost their captain and central defender Kevin Moran in a clash with John Fashanu, the Wimbledon captain.

Television appeared to show that Fashanu had caught Moran with his elbow and the incident set the tone and the standard for the rest of the afternoon. Ironically, Fashanu, one of three Wimbledon players to be booked, twice threatened to plunder a late winner, though fate spared Blackburn the ultimate injustice.

'When you jump with your elbows out like that you're looking for only one thing,' Moran said. 'It wasn't for his own protection.' Fashanu blamed a clash of heads. 'I've had to have six stitches in the back of my head,' he said. 'At no time did I try to hurt anybody.'

Moran's involvement was over within half an hour. He was left prostrate near the halfway line, with blood pouring from a suspected broken nose. Blackburn's manager, Kenny Dalglish, was sufficiently moved to stride to the touchline and protest. The officials presumably saw nothing untoward and no action was taken.

Moran, a 36-year-old veteran of many bloody battles, had to be helped from the pitch. The Irishman's latest misfortune presented the substitute Patrik Andersson, the Swedish international signed from Malmo for pounds 800,000, with his first appearance for Blackburn, operating in midfield.

Rovers called on the subtle skills of Roy Wegerle to replace Shearer's robust leadership and his confidence on the ball almost created an improbable opening in Rovers' first serious offensive. Wimbledon mustered their own version of the surprise attack in the rather bulky shape of Vinny Jones.

Twice in the opening skirmishes Jones caught Blackburn unawares with burgeoning runs. Old habits die hard, however, and the officials had to keep an eye on Jones' close-quarter encounters with Moran and Colin Hendry.

The referee, Robert Hart, booked Wimbledon's John Scales just before the interval and warned Andersson for use of the elbow as Wimbledon's other central defender, Dean Blackwell, received treatment early in the second half. Moments later Fashanu was shown the yellow card for a foul on Hendry.

Wegerle, surging down the right, forced Hans Segers to a save at the foot of his near post, but the semblance of football was illusory. Jones, already bound for suspension this week, was next in the referee's book, for dissent.

Blackburn were frustrated by two goal-line clearances and yet were almost caught out by Fashanu in the 73rd minute. Bobby Mimms had to rush from his area to block the striker's charge.

Blackburn Rovers: B Mimms; D May, A Wright, T Sherwood, C Hendry, K Moran (P Andersson, 30 min), S Ripley, N Marker, R Wegerle, M Newell, J Wilcox. Subs not used: M Atkins, D Collier (gk). Manager: K Dalglish.

Wimbledon: H Segers; R Joseph, G Elkins, V Jones, J Scales, D Blackwell, G Berry, R Earle, J Fashanu, L Sanchez, A Clarke. Subs not used: S Talboys, S Cotterill, N Sullivan (gk). Manager: J Kinnear.

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).