Football: Ndlovu's talent unhinges Dons

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. . . . .1

Coventry City. . .2

COVENTRY CITY'S third win in 15 matches and only their second since Phil Neal took over as manager came the hard way at Selhurst Park yesterday. To beat Wimbledon anyway is an achievement but to do so before a crowd of 4,739, of which probably the 39 were from Coventry, and after dropping your leading goalscorer, may not be the stuff of jubilation but commands encouragement.

Neal had elected to rest Mick Quinn, who has a persistent Achilles tendon injury, and for a time in the second half, as chances came and disappeared, he may have questioned his own judgement. Yet with Peter Ndlovu always the only glint of silver in what threatened to be a pudding of a match, Coventry's persistent determination to play a passing game against Wimbledon's directness was well founded.

The smallest crowd ever to see a Premiership match probably experienced a better game than the flat atmosphere allowed it to appear. Wimbledon ought to have secured a draw, but in the 71st minute John Scales inexplicably allowed John Williams to escape him on the right side of the penalty area. Williams strode on, hit his first shot against Hans Segers and put in the rebound.

Wimbledon's sturdy first-half pressure had been manfully countered by Steve Ogrizovic. Ndlovu then began to shine and when the Wimbledon defence forlornly awaited an offside decision in the 26th minute, Williams drove the ball square and Ndlovu nonchalantly side-footed in.

Ogrizovic continued to frustrate Wimbledon, but in the 38th minute after he had blocked a shot from Robbie Earle the ball rebounded back to Earle who turned it across the goalmouth for Dean Holdsworth to knock in his fifth goal in five games.

Coventry had to endure seeing Ogrizovic almost carry an enormous 40-yard lob from Vinnie Jones over his own line, but Roy Wegerle clipped the crossbar and Williams missed an open goal before he eventually capitalised on Scales' mistake.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Segers; Barton, Scales, Fitzgerald, McAllister; Fear (Dobbs, 45, Clarke 73), Earle, Jones, Ardley; Fashanu, Holdsworth. Substitutes not used: Sullivan (gk).

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Borrows, Atherton, Babb, Morgan; Flynn, Marsden, Darby, Ndlovu; Wegerle, Williams. Substitutes not used: P Williams, Gayle, Gould (gk).

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).