Football: Norwich lose in power game

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Norwich City. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

'WHO do you want to win the League?' chanted the Norwich City supporters in obvious bemusement as they watched Wimbledon put a large dent in their title hopes.

Wimbledon, of course, are no respecters of reputations - even small, well-cultivated ones such as the Canaries boast. They just roll up their sleeves, lower their heads and play to their strengths. And foremost among these is strength itself. The Dons were simply too strong for Norwich.

The initiative was always with the home side, and after they had taken the lead the result was never really in doubt. Their breakthrough came on the quarter- hour: John Fashanu turned past his marker and raced clear before picking out the galloping Dean Holdsworth who headed emphatically past Bryan Gunn.

Norwich struggled to find their accustomed rhythm. They did go close when Ruel Fox nearly reached Gunn's massive Wimbledon-style clearance, being denied only by Brian McAllister's sly Milan-style shirt-tug. McAllister found his name in the book, joining (inevitably) Vinnie Jones who earlier had been harshly judged to have fouled Colin Woodthorpe.

Woodthorpe, however, did himself harm in the 26th minute when, straining to convert Fox's chip to the far post, he crashed into the advertising hoardings.

That chance was Norwich's last glimpse of a possible reprieve. Two minutes later they were two down. Jones flung over another of his devastating long throws, Fashanu flicked it on and in the melee of panicked defenders, Neil Ardley's determination was enough to bundle the ball home.

The Dons were never content to rest on their lead. They continued to contest every ball with a vigour that Norwich could not match. Only an heroic display by Gunn held the line.

The diminutive Norwich forwards Fox and Mark Robins buzzed busily but lacked a sting. It was left to Ian Crook to test Hans Segers with a long-range effort.

It was not until the 82nd minute that the Dons got the third goal their superiority merited. The impressive Jones threaded a ball into the box for Holdsworth to run on to and slide under Gunn. It was the striker's 12th of the season.

Norwich nearly gained a scant consolation two minutes from time when David Phillips met Fox's cross with a blinding volley. The ball was deflected wide and the referee seemed to think that a Wimbledon arm had blocked the shot. Phillips sportingly informed him that it was Segers who had made the save. Nothing, needless to say, came from the corner.

Whether anything will come of Norwich's heroic League campaign still remains to be seen. Mike Walker was not perturbed. As he wrily remarked: 'We've no chance - we've had no chance all season.'

Wimbledon: H Segers; R Joseph, G Elkins, V Jones, J Scales, B McAllister, N Ardley, R Earle, J Fashanu, D Holdsworth, G Dobbs. Subs not used: A Clarke, L Sanchez, P Digweed (gk). Manager: J Kinnear.

Norwich City: B Gunn; I Culverhouse, M Bowen, C Sutton, J Polston, D Smith, I Crook, C Woodthorpe (L Power, 68 min), M Robins, R Fox, D Phillips. Subs not used: J Goss, M Walton (gk). Manager: M Walker.

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).

Goals: Holdsworth (1-0, 16 min); Ardley (2-0, 28 min); Holdsworth (3-0, 83 min).