Wimbledon. . .1
STEVE BOULD'S fifth League goal in his sixth year at Highbury rescued Arsenal's four-month unbeaten Premiership run last night. The loyalty of the 21,292 present, the Gunners' lowest League gate of the season, was rewarded with a derby of increasing excitement as Arsenal recovered from Robbie Earle's first-half goal to pull within a point of third-placed Newcastle.
George Graham's side have one eye on the Cup-Winners' Cup final but another route into Europe could emerge if they finish third. Uefa, the European game's governing body, meet next week to discuss the possible reallocation of the two Uefa Cup places allotted to the troubled former Yugoslavia, and England are in line for an extra berth.
Wimbledon have no such glamorous incentives to play for but, as ever, relished the opportunity to hassle the haves, a motivation that has seen this spirited band of have-nots account for Manchester United and Blackburn in recent weeks.
Arsenal, though, were prepared to battle with 'the form team in the country', as Graham described Wimbledon.
In the first half while Arsenal were poor, the Dons showed their vigour. David Seaman distinguished himself in dealing with left-footed strikes from Stewart Castledine and Dean Holdsworth but then mis-timed his jump for Gary Elkins's corner, allowing Earle to head in his 11th goal of the season at the far post. 'There was too much pace on the cross for David,' Graham said, adding that 'he held up his hands to the mistake afterwards'.
Arsenal, in typically spirited fashion, stepped up the tempo in an excellent second period and Martin Keown went close to breaking a six-year League duck.
No matter. The Gunners simply turned to the other members of their back four. Lee Dixon hit a post before Tony Adams and Bould combined for the equaliser. Ian Selley's left-wing corner was headed back into the box by Ray Parlour and Adams eventually flicked the ball on to Bould. From eight yards out the tall centre-half volleyed past Hans Segers.
Either team could have settled matters in a furious finale - John Fashanu gave Seaman a chance to make amends from 25 yards out while Earle headed off the line from Kevin Campbell - but the shared spoils was a just outcome.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Seaman; Dixon, Bould, Adams, Keown; Selley, Davis (Flatts, 70), Parlour; Campbell, Wright, Smith. Substitutes not used: Linighan, Miller (gk).
Wimbledon (4-4-2): Segers; Barton, Blackwell, Scales, Elkins; Fear, Earle, Castledine Gayle; Fashanu, Holdsworth. Substitutes not used: Clarke, Perry, Sullivan (gk).
Referee: R Gifford (Mid-Glamorgan).
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