Football: Palace security stays hanging in balance

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. . . . . 4

Crystal Palace. . .0

WIMBLEDON deepened the relegation worries of their landlords, Crystal Palace, in a one-sided Premier League match at a rain-swept Selhurst Park yesterday.

The Dons removed any doubts about their relegation and strengthened their mid-table position with two goals apiece from Dean Holdsworth, their leading scorer, and the midfielder, Robbie Earle.

Earle started the goal rush in the 20th minute when he headed home at the far post. The dynamic Holdsworth set Neal Ardley free down the right and he provided the perfect cross for the former Port Vale player to beat Nigel Martyn.

Four minutes later, Wimbledon went 2-0 ahead when Ardley crossed again from the right. Martyn dropped the ball in the wet conditions and it ran to Holdsworth, who shot from 12 yards for his 16th goal of the season.

Wimbledon made victory a clear prospect a minute after the break when Andy Clarke made a sweeping run and fed Holdsworth, who scored confidently at the far post.

Wimbledon, despite having four players suspended, set the seal on a convincing win in the 53rd minute when Earle headed in from close range following Gerald Dobbs' cross.

Palace's misery was complete when their former Wimbledon central defender, Andy Thorn, was booked by the Solihull referee, Vic Callow, for a tackle on Dobbs in the 58th minute.

Wimbledon made two substitutions for the last 10 minutes, while Palace, out of ideas, brought on their young striker, Grant Watts, for Thorn with four minutes to go.

Joe Kinnear, the Wimbledon manager, had a message of encouragement for his Palace counterpart, Steve Coppell. 'I have every sympathy for Palace. Steve Coppell is a very good friend of mine and I sincerely hope that they stay up,' he said.

Wimbledon: Segers; Joseph, Barton, Sanchez, Scales, Fitzgerald, Ardley, Earle, Dobbs, Holdsworth (Blackwell, 80), Clarke (Miller, 80). Substitute not used: Digweed (gk).

Crystal Palace: Martyn; Shaw, Southgate, Coleman, Gordon, Thorn (Watts, 86), Osborn (Humphrey, 45), G Thomas, Williams, Rodger, McGoldrick. Substitute not used: M Thomas (gk).

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).