Wimbledon denied

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West Ham United 1

Dicks 7

Wimbledon 1

Jones 11

Attendance: 20,402

THOSE who delight in predicting that the Wimbledon fairy-tale must come to an end sooner or later with dismissal from the Premiership seem certain to be confounded again. Wimbledon left Upton Park with only one point but undeniably deserved all three. The only man who stood between them and the full reward was the West Ham goalkeeper, Ludek Miklosko, who made half a dozen superb saves.

The most outstanding of his heroics was an athletic plunge to touch Dean Holdsworth's ferocious 25-yard free-kick round his left-hand post, although Neil Sullivan in the visitors' goal managed to match this with a leap to divert Michael Hughes's volley over his bar at the death.

Not that Wimbledon could claim to have had things all their own way. They were struggling after only six minutes when Julian Dicks got his shaven head to a huge corner to open the scoring. However, within three minutes Vinny Jones had driven the equaliser beyond Miklosko with the help of a deflection.

Jones has assumed the on-field role of elder statesmen for the Dons and there were moments when his careful distribution almost brought dividends. When he was joined in the midfield after the interval by a deeper- lying Holdsworth, Wimbledon took control.

It was at this juncture that Miklosko turned out to be a formidable barrier, although he was grateful once for Marc Rieper's assistance when Marcus Gayle's shot did beat him.

Andy Clarke's aggressive bustling was having an unsettling effect on the West Ham defence and their nerves barely stopped jangling until the little striker was injured and replaced by Jon Goodman 10 minutes from time.

West Ham, ironically, found themselves resorting to their opponents' legendary long-ball game for most of the second half as Dani's impotence reduced their options, forcing them to seek out the head of Dowie.

So, further evidence to confound those who maintain Wimbledon should not be playing with the big boys. "I wouldn't like to be Manchester City meeting them on Monday," said West Ham's manager Harry Redknapp. His counterpart Joe Kinnear had a more succinct response to queries about their survival - "Bollocks!"