Football: Redknapp's industry unrewarded: Dons dash hope of Liverpool

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The Independent Online
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BY A complicated sequence of favourable, if unlikely, events and a strong following wind, Liverpool could still get a place in Europe next season, but conceding an injury-time goal at gale-swept Selhurst Park yesterday all but removed their day-dreams.

Roy Evans conceded afterwards that 'we've got an awful lot to do to make Europe - we've made it difficult for ourselves', which was a particularly disappointing confession for Jamie Redknapp to hear. Redknapp was Liverpool's second-half scorer, their only outstanding contributor, and deserved to see his goal decide a moderate match. But Gary Elkins had always threatened from corners and free-kicks and in the end brought the equaliser.

In Robbie Fowler, Liverpool had the most penetrating striker, but support was indifferent and his several early attempts to break through the tough Wimbledon defence were lonely. After only three minutes he had scraped the far post with a lively shot on the turn. After eight he stormed through again and had a heavyweight shot parried by Hans Segers, and two minutes later he was on the end of a long cross from John Barnes only to head on to the post.

Wimbledon slowly got interested and were marginally the more authoritative as the first half ended with John Scales driving a shot from inside the penalty area. David James dropped on to the ball and had to since he was virtually on his own goal-line. Redknapp's threats subsided for a while. Wimbledon's own came from dead-ball situations, all instigated by Elkins. One of his corners led to a fine, leaping save from James, who deflected Robbie Earle's header, and then Rob Jones headed off the line. Then Redknapp came back in the spotlight with a laser- straight 25-yard shot following a neat touch-on by Fowler. The shot was low enough to overcome the gale and flew past Segers.

The referee was about to call it a day when, according to the referee, Steve Nicol fouled John Fashanu just outside the penalty area and Elkins hit the free-kick through the wall. The ball took an evil deflection off Nicol, leaving James flatfooted and Liverpool deflated.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Segers; Barton (Perry, 46), Blackwell, Castledine (Blissett, 77), Scales; Elkins, Gayle, Earle, Fear; Fashanu, Holdsworth. Substitute not used: Sullivan (gk).

Liverpool (4-4-2): James; Jones, Nicol, Ruddock, Dicks; McManaman, Redknapp, Whelan, Barnes; Rush, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Molby, Thomas, Grobbelaar (gk).

Referee: J Borrett (Gt Yarmouth).

Wimbledon have agreed to postpone next Saturday's match against Arsenal at Highbury. The Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, said he was keen to do anything he could to ease Arsenal's programme before their European match against Paris St-Germain on the following Wednesday.