Football: The Premiership / Milton enjoys a birthday treat: Dons pegged back after early goal

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon . . . . .1

Ipswich Town. . . .1

WHEREVER Wimbledon end up in their search for a new home - and in a passionate attack on the local council in the match programme the club's owner, Sam Hammam, reaffirmed his intention to take them out of the immediate area - they must hope Ipswich are not around to spoil the house- warming party. Simon Milton's second-half equaliser on his 31st birthday confirmed the sequence of Ipswich success over the side others confront with trepidation.

In six attempts before last night the best Wimbledon had managed against these obdurate opponents was a single draw. In their only two previous League meetings at Selhurst Park, Wimbledon had failed to score and had finished easily second-best.

The pattern did not look likely to last when Dean Holdsworth collected a loose ball in the 19th minute and lashed a swerving shot beyond Craig Forrest from 25 yards, pocketing a pounds 5,000 bonus in the process. That is what every goal is worth to the new Wimbledon skipper. No wonder he celebrated as if his eight draws had just come in on his coupon.

The surprise was that the breakthrough had not derived from a set-piece. Early on corners peppered the Ipswich goalmouth with regularity. Marcus Gayle put his head to most of them but could not make them count.

Instead of using the goal to take control, Wimbledon allowed Ipswich to gain confidence that their own swift counter-attacking game could yield some reward. They were helped by a reluctance among the home side's defenders to present a reliable barrier in front of Hans Segers. As their midfield was by-passed at will the pace and strength of Chris Kiwomya and Ian Marshall carried an increasing threat.

Stuart Slater rattled the outside of a post and, six minutes from the interval, Marshall found himself handily placed when his partner was superbly denied by goalkeeper. The finish, however, smacked of the centre-half he used to be.

At the start of the second half and again late on Holdsworth passed up opportunities that could have given him a hat-trick and a colossal pay day. However they were isolated threats as Wimbledon were made to confront the debilitating effect of John Fashanu's departure, especially with Mick Harford left on the bench.

Ipswich had to wait until the hour mark for the goal which gives John Lyall the first point of his second stint as manager at Portman Road. Kiwomya held up play waiting for support and when a blue shirt diverted it only as far as Milton the midfield player left Segers with no chance to save.

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Segers; Barton, Scales, Fitzgerald, Elkins; Ardley, Jones, Castledine, Gayle; Holdsworth, Blissett (Clarke, 67). Substitutes not used: Harford, Sullivan (gk).

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Forrest; Stockwell, Wark, Linighan, Yallop; Mason, Williams, Milton, Slater; Kiwomya, Marshall. Substitutes not used: Youds, Palmer, Baker (gk).

Referee: J Worrall (Warrington).