Football: Jones' mishap lets in Dons

Southampton 0 Wimbledon 1 Leaburn 38 Attendance: 14,815
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IT HAD been 335 minutes since Wimbledon had scored in the Premiership. Anybody being apprised of this information at The Dell yesterday might presumably have shrugged their shoulders and exclaimed: "As recently as that". That they broke the sequence was because of one of the more crass errors in an untidy match which was littered with them.

The Southampton goalkeeper Paul Jones ran outside his area to make a hurried clearance. He missed his kick, was stranded and left Carl Leaburn with an acute angle but an empty net to fire at. Jones has been his side's outstanding player this season and his spectacular saves have often turned matches their way. He remains in credit but here was a considerable entry on the other side of the balance sheet.

Southampton were always chasing the game thereafter, though it was with scant effect. Their manager Dave Jones said afterwards that this was because they were incapable of stringing three passes together and drawing Wimbledon out though this might have been exaggerating by a couple.

It was not the sort of play that was required against Wimbledon. They may have been slow in scoring most of the season but they also have the best defensive away record in the entire league, now standing at 14 goals in 16 matches. Given this and despite Southampton's lamentable ineffectiveness, it does not make them impregnable.

Apart from Kevin Richardson's long-range shot against the bar in the first half there were at least two other occasions when Southampton had clear shots at goal which were completely missed. John Beresford had only to lay a toe on the ball in the 54th minute but contrived to fall over. Seven minutes from the end Kevin Davies also struck air or a raindrop but not the ball.

Wimbledon, less error prone, were usually in control and should now be safe in the Premiership for another season, though the hoarding behind the goal where they scored, which read "England 2006", might have referred not to the World Cup but to the place and time of their next goal.