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The BBC's Alan Biggs
"Wimbledon turned this intimidating venue into the stadium of silence"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Kilbane saves Sunderland's day

Sunderland 2-1 Wimbledon

Kevin Kilbane scored the winner in the final ten minutes after Wimbledon's Michael Hughes appeared to have stolen a point with a deflected equaliser at the Stadium of Light.

Niall Quinn put the home side ahead after 56 minutes against a Dons side whcih was stubborn in defence but carried little threat up front.

Hughes' hopeful shot was then deflected past a wrong-footed Thomas Sorensen.


Key moments
14: Phillips inches away
27: Badir effort saved
56: Quinn heads Sunderland ahead
73: Hughes effort wrong-foots Sorensen
82: Kilbane saves the day
But Kilbane was left unmarked to tap into an empty net, and leave the Dons just a place above the relegation spot although there are six points between them and 18th-placed Bradford.

Michael Gray had returned to the Sunderland side with Nicky Summerbee relegated to the bench.

Wimbledon has Hermann Hreidarsson returning to the starting line up after a four game absence because of a knee operation.

Sunderland were first to go close to a goal as Gray found Jody Craddock but his shot was comfortably saved by Neil Sullivan.

Wimbledon defender Kenny Cunningham then had react instinctively to sweep the ball to safety after Niall Quinn tried to pick out Eric Roy with a cross from the left.

Premiership top-scorer Kevin Phillips was predictably closest to a first half goal.



It is driving me crackers that we can't keep a clean sheet, but on the plus side we've had three wins and two draws in our last five games

Peter Reid
He was inches away from handing the hosts the lead after 14 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area.

There was then an unsuccessful attempt at chipping Sullivan before a second long ranger effort looped two yards wide before half-time.

Wimbledon were only dangerous on the counter attack with Walid Badir enjoying the clearest chances.

Jason Euell broke away after 27 minutes, and found Badir whose shot was saved, while the Isreali fired wide in first half injury time after Marcus Gayle's cross.

Second half goals

Wimbledon began the second half in positive fashion and Kenny Cunningham went close after Hughes had seen a free kick come back off the wall.

But Sunderland soon had the ball in the back of the net, as the industrious Alex Rae delivered a fine cross from the right.

Quinn spun quickly in the area to send a fierce shot beyond Sullivan.



The other results have gone for us today and that is a bit of good news after this result. We are still six points clear of the relegation zone

Egil Olsen
Hughes again tried his luck from a free-kick which was just just wide of the target.

But the Northern Ireland midfielder was lucky to see his next strike hit the back of the net.

Andreas Lund laid the ball off and Hughes' shot took a wicked deflection off Sunderland's Eric Roy, leaving Sorensen going completely the wrong way.

But Wimbledon were level for only nine minutes, as Kilbane popped up with a first Premiership goal for Sunderland.

A corner from rae found Quinn, who was tightly marked but still played the ball across the face of the area.

The numbers surrounding the big Irish striker meant there was inevitable space for Kilbane, and he fired Sunderland back into sixth place and very much in the hunt for a Uefa Cup place.

Teams:

Sunderland: Sorensen, Holloway, Craddock, Williams, Makin, Gray, Rae, Roy, Kilbane, Quinn, Phillips. Subs: Marriott, Nunez, Dichio, Summerbee.

Wimbledon: Sullivan, Cunningham, Blackwell, Andersen, Hreidarsson, Jupp, Hughes, Badir, Euell, Gayle, Lund. Subs: Davis, Francis, Andresen, Leaburn, Roberts.

Referee: G Barber (Tring)

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