Football: Gorman aghast at drop

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Swindon Town. . . . . . . . . . . .2

Summerbee 67, Barton og 80

Wimbledon. . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Fashanu 13, Earle 71, 75, Holdsworth 81

Attendance: 12,237

THE last tango on the Titanic and Swindon were again out of step, and after a series of 'excuse mes' and 'after yous' against Wimbledon at the County Ground, they duly sank to the relegation from the Premiership that had seemed inevitable all season.

For all that, they have won friends and praise from some pleasing, passing - also in the sense of fleeting - moments and movements, they have deserved to go down. All their fallibilities were on view against Wimbledon yesterday and finally some long-suffering fans, even if not a quorum, vented their frustration.

'It wasn't the way to go down,' their manager, John Gorman, admitted. 'After the pride we have shown in recent weeks, it was our worst performance for a long time.' Opposite the home dug-out is an advertisement for the Samaritans.

An often uncoordinated defence have scarcely been helped by a fragile midfield and only in the second half of the season, when they have mixed their game more with quicker balls forward - the Norwegian striker Jan Age Fjortoft profiting accordingly with 12 goals - have they looked more penetrative. A mere nine points from the encounters with their fellow occupants of the bottom six illustrates the root of their problem.

Wimbledon have shown that squealing poverty is not sufficient mitigation. Yesterday, they came down like wolves on the fold, hungry for more, and more easy meat, after recent wins over Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. It seemed incongruous that they were kicking pink balls in the warm-up.

They had, too, the fillip of an astonishing early goal by John Fashanu. Receiving a long clearance, he controlled under pressure from Brian Kilcline, worked the ball on to his right foot, looked up to see Nicky Hammond off his line and curled a remarkable 40-yard, wind-assisted shot into the top corner. It was almost the equal of Ian Wright's for Arsenal on this ground this season.

Swindon might have equalised before half-time when Hans Segers had to scurry across his goal to turn aside a shot by Fjortoft, bizarrely supplied by the referee who had been hit by Warren Barton's clearance, then did so just after the interval.

Wimbledon were still adjusting to the loss through injury of Fashanu and Segers when Nicky Summerbee turned home after Fjortoft had flicked on Paul Bodin's cross, but it merely prompted the visitors into more concerted action.

Robbie Earle struck twice in four minutes, stabbing home from close range after Hammond and his defence had panicked at two crosses, first from Andy Clarke, then from Barton.

Barton's goal from Summerbee's corner was yet another false dawn for Swindon - the sight of Lawrie Sanchez slinking off straight to the dressing- room, head down, after his substitution against his former club seemed symbolic - and latching on to Vinnie Jones's through-pass, the lively Dean Holdsworth drove home the 92nd League goal against Swindon so far this season.