This was one of those spectacles which belonged in a yuletide theatre. A man in green drew the wrath of his audience by waving a yellow card 11 times at 10 different players (including Mick Harford twice); Wimbledon won at home in the Premiership, for the first time since September; and Mark Hateley scored his maiden goal for Queen's Park Rangers.
The booing and cheering was always on cue and only the sweets and chocolates, thrown free to the crowd, were missing. Selhurst Park's entertainment was turned from a potentially vital London derby, a relegation six-pointer, into a pantomime.
Well done, Steve Dunn, the referee, whose actions must be excused by the modern fashion for following the letter, rather than the spirit, of the laws of the game. All his victims were cautioned, his report said, for "ungentlemanly conduct."
Dunn has promised the Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, he will wipe out Harford's sending- off if video evidence proves he made an error. "Common sense has gone out of the window," said Kinnear, who is to be interviewed on Wednesday for the vacant post of manager of the Republic of Ireland. "I've probably lost four or five players through suspension now, but the referee says he is prepared to look at the video and will admit it if he made a mistake. That is very decent of him."
Ray Wilkins, his QPR counterpart, was dead-pan slick with his one-liners and suggested lack of communication, verbal, was Mr Dunn's problem.
"We led the booking count 6-4 so at least we won something, Wilkins said.
"There are always a lot of bookings these days, but we are not a dirty team and there was not much that was malicious in the game," he added.
Harford became the sixth Wimbledon player sent off this season for two barely visible bookable offences, the second of which came in an aerial clash with Hateley. It was a veritable locking of ancient antlers and a surprise to see the itinerant Ranger collapse, as if pole-axed, before lying, seemingly unconscious.
It was difficult to confirm that the burly Harford's trailing arm had made any contact, deliberate or otherwise, as there was no blood at all and Hateley recovered with a notable spring in his step to equalise, Oyvind Leonhardsen having put the Dons ahead with a well-taken half-volley on the turn.
In the end, it felt right to see Andy Clarke run suspiciously clear in open space for an adroitly taken 75th minute winner. After all, they used to call them the Wombles, didn't they?
Goals: Leonhardsen (42) 1-0; Hateley (57) 1-1; Clarke (75) 2-1.
Wimbledon (4-2-4): Sullivan; Cunningham, Reeves, Perry, Kimble; Earle, Leonhardsen; Harford, Holdsworth, Gayle (Ekoku, 46), Clarke (Ardley, 89). Substitute not used: Pearce.
Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Bardsley, McDonald, Yates, Challis (Goodridge, 81); Sinclair, Barker, Quashie, Brazier; Allen (Dichio, 67), Hateley. Substitute not used: Maddix.
Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).
Bookings: Wimbledon: Sommer, Challis, Bardsley, Sinclair, Allen, McDonald. QPR: Holdsworth, Harford, Ekoku, Cunningham.
Man of the match: Clarke.
Attendance: 9,123.Reuse content