Kinnear's `disgust' for Jones

Wimbledon 1 Holdsworth 85 Blackburn Rovers 0 Attendance: 13 ,246
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The Independent Online
Dean Holdsworth's 85th-minute goal may have taken Wimbledon back to within a point of Arsenal at the top of the Premiership and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 19 yesterday, but the post-match mood of their manager Joe Kinnear was dictated less by the latest chapter in what is turning into a quite extraordinary success story than by yet another example of Vinnie Jones's seemingly limitless capacity for putting his foot in it.

Jones was not even playing. He was 200 miles away, on World Cup duty with Wales. But in yesterday morning's Sun newspaper he had offered a "humorous" guide to his Wimbledon team-mates that had Kinnear fuming.

"I was disgusted by it," Kinnear said. "I thought it was distasteful. You don't expect that from any of your players, but when it's your own captain ... but Vinnie's like that. I wasn't particularly happy with it, and he'll know so when I see him on Monday. He'll be apologising to the lads."

Kinnear's pride runs deep, and it's one of the reasons why Wimbledon have got to where they are. He is also insistent that no matter how much expectations increase, the fundamental character of the team should not change and he clearly sees mutual loyalty as something not to be traded for anything - least of all the Sun's shilling.

On the day that Glenn Hoddle was joined in the stands by the Denmark manager, Bo Johansson, and a delegation from his country keen to divine how Wimbledon do it, the question of their "secret" cropped up yet again. "There's no secret," Kinnear said. "You can't beat hard work and organisation, and our confidence is sky-high."

While all three factors were present in a victory that put Blackburn back in the doldrums just when their season appeared to be on the point of getting going, this was at best a moderate Wimbledon performance, redeemed when Holdsworth came on as a substitute 14 minutes from time and applied the cutting edge that had been missing.

In the first half Blackburn were the better side. They controlled the midfield - Jones's absence may have had something to do with that - and Jason Wilcox on the left wing and Kevin Gallacher on the right saw plenty of the ball without being able to provide Chris Sutton with the quality of pass he was looking for.

Wimbledon broke sporadically, but Shay Given, the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper making his debut because of a thigh injury Tim Flowers picked up on Friday, had to make only one save of consequence, from a rising shot by Neil Ardley in the 24th minute.

Although Wimbledon picked up the pace in the second half, they still struggled to create chances, and with both teams beginning to get bogged down, a goalless draw looked inevitable. But the arrival of Holdsworth in place of Efan Ekoku transformed events.

With Ekoku and Marcus Gayle having formed such an effective attacking partnership this season, Holdsworth's opportunities have been restricted. But he scored coming on as a substitute at Sunderland last week and now he did so again, ramming the ball home from 12 yards after Ardley had headed down Peter Fear's cross from the left. He is surely in favour again, which is more than can be said for Jones.

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