Football: Leaburn leads rout of Palace

Crystal Palace 0 Wimbledon 3
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The Independent Online
Of all the many indignities heaped upon Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this season, none surely matched the embarrassment of last night when they were routed by their tenants. With a demoralising three-goal blitz in the first 11 minutes of the second half, Wimbledon had eased their own anxieties near the foot of the Premiership, moving up a place, while increasing, in the process, the acute worries of their landlords.

Two of the Wimbledon goals came from the head of Carl Leaburn, his first for the club, but he may have second thoughts about repeating the feat after having a hefty kiss plonked on his cheeks by Sam Hammam, his chairman, as the teams left the field.

Leaburn will never have it so easy. On this awful form, Palace's first home Premier League win of the season looks as far away as ever. Their manager, Steve Coppell, whose job has been linked recently with Gerry Francis and Terry Venables, suffered the abuse of fans as he came off. "If the chairman wants someone he thinks can do the job better, then fair enough," he said later.

The first half was almost too bad to be true. The only glimpses of decent football had been provided down the right touchline by Michael Hughes for Wimbledon, who were quick to benefit from the Irishman's devilment after the interval.

Only 71 seconds into the second half, Hughes pulled the ball back for Kenny Cunningham to float over a cross that was met by a towering header from Leaburn. Kevin Miller failed to get near that one, but when Hughes centred from the right four minutes later, the Palace goalkeeper fumbled Leaburn's next header over the line.

Leaburn was denied his hat-trick by an upright that kept out his close- range shot following yet another cross, a deeper one this time from Hughes in the 56th minute. No worries. Jason Euell stabbed in the loose ball for Wimbledon's third goal.

Palace's disintegration was complete. Abject in defence, they were also woeful up front where Matt Jansen - whose transfer from Carlisle was completed after the game can only improve matters.

Crystal Palace (3-5-2): Miller; Ismael (Rodger, 61), Linighan, Hreidarsson; Smith, Edworthy, Roberts, Gordon, Brolin; Dyer, Bent (Ginty, 66). Substitutes not used: Quinn, Emblen, Nash (gk).

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Perry, Blackwell, Thatcher, Cunningham; Ardley (Castledine, 90), Jones, Fear, M Hughes; Euell (Clarke, 75), Leaburn. Substitutes not used: Reeves,Cort, Heald (gk).

Referee: K W Burge (Tonypandy).