Football: Perfect balance of Hughes

Wimbledon 1 Hughes 72 Leeds United 1 Bowyer 61 Attendance: 16,437
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The Independent Online
LEEDS MUST loathe coming to Selhurst Park. This was a game they dominated for long periods and should have won easily. But just as on five of their previous six visits they failed to pick up all three points.

Still, there was enough in the way George Graham's team played to suggest they will again finish in the top six and cause problems for opponents a lot more accomplished than Wimbledon.

Leeds may not have an army of stars, but defensively Lucas Radebe and Robert Molenaar covered for each other superbly, while in midfield they were strong in the tackle and passed to feet. Up front they had two dangerous Dutchmen in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Clyde Winjhard.

The goal that Leeds conceded in the 72nd minute was the first they had let in this season. But what a goal. Michael Hughes, Wimbledon's most expensive signing, picked up the ball in the centre circle, ran on 20 yards and hit an imperious shot past Nigel Martyn.

Mind you, Leeds had scored a pretty good one of their own, nine minutes earlier Lee Bowyer hitting an instinctive volley high into the corner.

Neil Sullivan saved Wimbledon's blushes in the first half with two excellent saves from Hasselbaink, who scored 22 goals last season and had another six chances yesterday.

Graham could not heap enough praise on his team of medium-priced buys and relatively unknown foreign imports. "I thought the perfor- mance was excellent," he said. "We created lots of chances. I thought once we had scored we might go on and get more, but Hughes scored a great goal."

Graham played a special tribute to Hasselbaink, who was in Holland's World Cup squad but has been overshadowed by Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Jaap Stam and others in recent months.

Graham said: "He took a few months to settle in. I left him out of the team for a spell last season after he was suspended but when he came back he was superb. Now I hope the other boy, Winjhard will form a good understanding with Jimmy."

Joe Kinnear, the Dons manager, said: "They are a typical George side, difficult to break down. You won't see sweeter balls struck all season than the one with which we scored."