Football: Saunders is top Villan

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon. . . .2

Aston Villa. . .3

SAM HAMMAM, the owner of Wimbledon, defended his video star Vinny Jones slightly better than his players defended at Selhurst Park yesterday against a fluent Villa side who moved into fifth place with two well-taken goals from Dean Saunders and a delightful individual effort from Dalian Atkinson.

Wimbledon contributed fully to an entertaining match before a rain-soaked crowd of 6,849, their goals coming from Paul Miller and Andy Clarke after John Fashanu had limped off in the first half with a recurrence of a hamstring problem. Wimbledon were already without Jones, who was suspended for using what Hammam called 'language not found in the Oxford English Dictionary' against Blackburn Rovers last month.

In the programme, Hammam wrote of Jones's appearance in a video glorfying the game's hard men: 'He looks and talks tough and allows himself to be exploited. But he's more of a victim than a villain. We aren't sporting mobsters and Vinny isn't soccer's answer to Al Capone.'

Saunders gave a passable impression of a celebrated hit man, shooting home twice in the first half-hour. Steve Froggatt made the first with a perfect cross from the left which the Welsh international side-footed past Hans Segers from eight yards after five minutes. His second - a quick one-two with his former Liverpool colleague, Ray Houghton, and a low shot past Segers - brought Saunders his sixth goal in four games for Villa.

Kinnear's side came back strongly, Miller driving in their first after 34 minutes, the ball taking a slight deflection off Fashanu's replacement, Aiden Newhouse.

Villa, with Shaun Teale outstanding, stood their ground and went further ahead in the 77th minute when Atkinson galloped 50 yards, beating three defenders, before chipping Segers from just inside the area. With seconds left Clarke shot past Spink to give Wimbledon their second but the spoils were deservedly Villa's.

Wimbledon: H Segers; W Barton, G Elkins, P Miller, J Scales, S Fitzgerald, N Ardley, R Earle, J Fashanu (A Newhouse, 24 min), L Sanchez, A Clarke. Subs not used: R Joseph, N Sullivan (gk). Manager: J Kinnear.

Aston Villa: N Spink; E Barrett, S Staunton, S Teale, P McGrath, K Richardson, R Houghton, G Parker, D Saunders, D Atkinson, S Froggatt (D Yorke, h-t). Subs not used: B Small, M Bosnich (gk). Manager: R Atkinson.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Goals: Saunders (0-1, 5 min); Saunders (0-2, 29 min); Miller (1-2, 34 min); Atkinson (1-3, 77 min); Clarke (2-3, 90 min).

Vinny Jones profile, page 24

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