Shearer shows sharp thinking

Blackburn Rovers 3 Wimbledon 2
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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 3 Wimbledon 2

In his last match before going under the surgeon's knife, Alan Shearer operated devastatingly on Wimbledon to claim the two goals that took him above 30 in the Premiership for the third season in a row. Shearer's groin injury did nothing to blunt his cutting edge, but Blackburn were never able to relax against visitors who played a full part in a richly entertaining game.

As a ceremonial leave-taking for the local hero, the early stages left something to be desired with Tim Flowers seeing a cross-shot from Andy Clarke shave his crossbar and then having to leap to tip over a dipping shot from Vinnie Jones.

In the 12th minute, however, the script asserted itself, Shearer taking a pass from the new England squad member, Jason Wilcox, on the edge of the area and crashing it past Neil Sullivan on the turn for a goal at least the equal of any of his previous ones this season.

A positive Wimbledon were still dangerous, Dean Hold-sworth having a header saved and Clarke putting one against the post. When they did deservedly equalise, it was from a shot as fierce as Shearer's, Robbie Earle doing the damage when the ball ran to him.

Although Blackburn's substitute, Graham Fenton, had a chance with a bicycle kick from Tim Sherwood's cross, Wimbledon were, apart from the ever-present threat of Shearer, the more impressive side in the first half.

Within 30 seconds of the restart, however, Shearer pounced again, taking advantage of a defensive mix-up and beating Sullivan from an acute angle with his right foot.

Were the Crazy Gang downhearted? Not a bit of it. Back they came almost immediately, with Marcus Gayle meeting Kenny Cunningham's long cross with a firm header that Flowers could only parry into the roof of his net.

A Blackburn goal without Shearer contributing is something of an event, but Fenton has made a habit of scoring valuable ones recently and it was he who put Blackburn back into the lead after Billy McKinlay's effort came back off Sullivan.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Hendry, Coleman, Kenna; Ripley, Sherwood, McKinlay, Wilcox; Shearer, Newell (Fenton, 9). Substitutes not used: Gallacher, Marker.

Wimbledon (4-3-1-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Reeves, Perry, Kimble; Jones, Earle, Gayle; Holdsworth (Ardley, 74); Ekoku, Clarke (Goodman, 74). Substitute not used: Thorn.

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).

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