Chelsea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
WHATEVER may or may not have been written on the dressing-room wall at Selhurst Park last night the message was that Wimbledon are going to thrust their ungainly way through another season but Glenn Hoddle's Chelsea will need time to react to a master's touch.
Although rarely an atttacking force Chelsea took a 78th-minute lead when Andy Myers shot across goal and John Scales unecessarily hacked at the ball, deflecting it to Dennis Wise, who knocked it back in only for John Fashanu to equalise with a typically muscular header at the far-post from Alan Kimble's corner nine minutes from the end.
Hoddle had begun the season saying there was not much difference in pace and vigour between the First Division and the Premier League yet he had still seen Chelsea lose their first match at home to Blackburn. Wimbledon were obviously the side to challenge his theory even more severely and though his calmness and sensitive touch are always therapeutic, Wimbledon were not likely to let the new player-manager cast too many spells over them.
A confrontation between Hoddle and Fashanu could hardly have been more incongruous, and when Wimbledon's pounds 175,000 summer buy from Cambridge United, Kimble, despatched some useful deep crosses, the power of Fashanu was virtually unchallenged. Fashanu's downward header after six minutes was turned away by Dimitri Kharine but Kimble continued to serve Fashanu with interesting centres, which Chelsea struggled to contain. They had thought that the Dane, Jacob Kjeldberg's appearance would stiffen the defence. The evidence was against.
Whatever ideas Hoddle has for constructing a new, expressive style of football at Chelsea, cultivating it further against Wimbledon was never likely to happen. It was 38 minutes before Robert Fleck established Chelsea's first significant opening and even then his timid shot reflected some surprise at the being in the right place at the right time. Any attempts Chelsea made to offer originality were quickly countered by the strong Wimbledon midfield.
Wimbledon (4-4-2): Segers; Joseph, Scales, Blackwell, Kimble; Sanchez, Earle, Talboys, Clarke; Fashanu, Holdsworth. Substitutes not used: Digweed (gk), Barton, Berry.
Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Kharine; Clarke, Kjeldberg, Sinclair, Donaghy; Hoddle; Wise, Peacock, Myers; Cascarino, Fleck (Spencer, 72). Substitutes not used: Hitchcock (gk), Lee.
Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).