Fox rules roost

Wimbledon 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 Fox 85 Attendance: 16,193
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The Independent Online
WHILE Wimbledon's insecurity deepens on several fronts, Tottenham's style of play on days like this seems like an affront to long-held traditions of attractive football. But it continues to drive them upwards.

Wimbledon still sink and their manager, Joe Kinnear, continues to complain bitterly about the standard of refereeing. Here he claimed that a disallowed first-half goal by Mick Harford for pushing was illogical and that a penalty should have been given when Gary Mabbutt appeared to handle. In reality, Wimbledon were denied more by Tottenham's goalkeeper, Ian Walker, than by Mr Elleray.

A run of one defeat in 16 games has left Spurs fans with a sort of dilemma. Would they rather have endured a few defeats along the way than suffer what looked ominously like the sort of dour football that Arsenal used to play? But this was not the day on which to be discussing Tottenham's philosophy. Not when the main talking-points were whether Vinnie Jones was really going to leave Wimbledon, along with Kinnear (linked to the Irish job Jack Charlton has not yet vacated) and the whole club. The latter is again looking for a new home anywhere they would be welcome - which could be why the only places mentioned are as far away as Dublin and Cardiff.

Jones's decision to ask for a transfer resulted in his being left out of the starting line-up yesterday, and when Chris Armstrong set up Teddy Sheringham with a point-blank header after only four minutes, the signs were bad for the already troubled Wimbledon. In the event, Paul Heald somehow blocked the header, setting the pattern for a day of outstanding goalkeeping but one on which Spurs doused entertainment with their counter- attacking style.

Ideas were still-born. Wimbledon ruggedly won territory, Spurs had slightly the better control, but even that was pitted by mistakes. Even Mabbutt got tired of seeing wasted opportunities. Moving into the Wimbledon penalty area he slammed a shot that Heald saved spectacularly at the far post. Walker did equally well to block shots from Efan Ekoku and Dean Holdsworth in quick succession and turned to see Colin Calderwood block a third from Oyvind Leonhardsen on the line.

The only saving grace of a mean, largely skill-free affair was the goal, effectively begun by Sheringham, sending Armstrong away down the left before springing up-field and meeting the centre at the far post to lift the ball back for Fox to head in.

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