Hartson's perfect riposte

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The Independent Online
JOHN HARTSON, recalled to the Arsenal team despite accusing Bruce Rioch of "treating him like a dog'', scored the only goal - the fastest in England - after one minute and 28 seconds of the match against West Ham at Upton Park yesterday.

Hartson's strike was the perfect riposte to his manager, who had picked the pounds 2.5m striker only eight times this season apart from his 11 appearances as a non- playing substitute.

Hartson's frustration at being left out finally get the better of him and he vented his feelings in the tabloids. Arsenal needed a lift after their defeat by Aston Villa in the Coca-Cola Cup and Hartson provided it, slotting in a low pass from Paul Merson who had capitalised on a dreadful error by John Harkes.

North London rivals Tottenham also won by the only goal, Chris Armstrong scoring his 13th of the season with a looping shot after 31 minutes to beat Sheffield Wednesday.

Aston Villa were involved in a dogfight with Wimbledon, who took the lead twice through goals by Jon Goodman but gave their opponents a helping hand with two own goals by Alan Reeves and Ken Cunningham. Sandwiched in between was the inevitable goal from Dwight Yorke, albeit from the penalty. Wimbledon earned a 3-3 draw with veteran striker Mick Harford scoring in the last minute.

Ruud Gullit was Chelsea's match-winner in a 3-2 success against Southampton at the Dell, scoring a second-half winner after two first half goals by Dennis Wise. Southampton had taken the lead twice in the first half through Tommy Widdrington and an own goal by Steve Clarke.

Jim Smith, the Derby County manager, saw his old club, Portsmouth, go in front through Paul Hall after 62 minutes at the Baseball Ground. However things turned out well for Smith, who led Pompey to the FA Cup semi-finals in 1992, when his team fought back to win 3-2 with goals from the two Deans, Yates and Sturridge, and a third from Marco Gabbiadini. Alan McLoughlin replied with a penalty with four minutes left.

Huddersfield maintained their challenge with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace at the McAlpine Stadium, Andy Booth scoring is 15th goal of the season. At Roker Park an own goal by Luton's Julian James was enough to keep Sunderland in the hunt. Jan Molby, the former Liverpool player, and Micky Adams, once of Leeds United, both made promsing starts to their managerial careers. Molby's Second Division Swansea drew 0-0 at York while Adams, who took over from Ian Branfoot at Third Division Fulham, saw his side beat Exeter 2-1 at Craven Cottage.

Manchester United face bottom club Bolton today with the the chance of cutting Newcastle's lead at the top to four points. But the presence of their talismanic Frenchman, Eric Cantona, in doubt. Cantona has been under treatment since the 2-0 victory over Everton in midweek.

Meanwhile, United's chances of signing the South Africa defender Mark Fish all but disappeared yesterday when it emerged the 22-year-old was about to join Italian club Lazio.

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