Football: Liverpool in search of solace

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The Independent Online
Liverpool. .2

Wimbledon. .3

WE live in uncertain times. Remember when you could rely on the value of the pound in your pocket? Well, not so long ago you could bank on Liverpool, too.

However, the club which set the gold standard in English football have made their worst start for 30 years and there is no sign of an end to the recession. The three goals which brought Wimbledon their second successive League victory at Anfield took the total conceded to 11 in the week, a rate of depreciation that makes the pound's exchange rate look positively stable.

But if Graeme Souness is looking for solace from this third consecutive League defeat, he may find some in the way they came back from a two-goal deficit.

Wimbledon would not allow Liverpool to settle into a rhythm, but they had scarcely ventured out of their own half when Robbie Earle released an unmarked John Fashanu for the opener.

It was an inauspicious start for Bruce Grobbelaar, making his first League appearance of the season. The goalkeeper afterwards accepted responsibility for Wimbledon's second, and although his overall performance did little to restore confidence in Liverpool's demoralised defence, he may have been too self-critical. He came to the edge of his area to punch away Justin Skinner's free- kick, only to see the ball land at the feet of Earle, who returned it from 30 yards into a net which none of Grobbelaar's fellow defenders had seen fit to guard in his absence.

To their credit, Liverpool sought to play their way back into the game in the style to which we were once accustomed. Whenever Wimbledon allowed the midfield to come into play, there were signs that the old, careful passing game leading to the sudden, incisive thrust, has not entirely deserted them. But despite the constant threat posed by the weaving runs of Ronny Rosenthal, Liverpool strikers were as profligate as their defenders were generous, and it took a penalty to launch the revival. Rosenthal was brought down by Earle and Jan Molby scored from the spot.

When Steve McManaman, who had returned after missing five games with a back injury, equalised, tapping in after Rosenthal's lob came back off the bar, it seemed that the tide had turned.

Liverpool had the best of the second half as they had the first, but Wimbledon's composure at the back, abetted by Hans Segers' safe handling, kept them at bay, and with 15 minutes left, the goalkeeper's long kick was headed on by Fashanu, for Earle to round off a miserable week for Liverpool

Goals: Fashanu (11) 0-1; Earle (26) 0-2; Molby pen (33) 1-2; McManaman (39) 2-2; Earle (75)


Liverpool: Grobbelaar; Marsh, Burrows, Piechnik, Redknapp, Wright, Rosenthal, McManaman, Hutchison, Molby, Walters (Kozma, 81). Substitutes not used: Tanner, James (gk).

Wimbledon: Segers; Barton, Skinner, Jones, Scales, Fitzgerald, Ardley (Miller, 74), Earle, Fashanu, Holdsworth (Sanchez, 49), Clarke. Substitute not used: Sullivan (gk).

Referee R Milford (Bristol).