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Saturday, 14 December, 2002, 17:31 GMT
Walsall 2-0 Wimbledon

Brazilian striker Junior struck a superb free-kick to earn Walsall a fourth-straight home win against Wimbledon at the Bescot Stadium.

Stuart Murdoch's side had controlled the game for long spells and Junior's set-piece emphatically finished off the Londoners, adding to Darren Wrack's earlier strike.

The second period was as entertaining as the first was poor.

Martin O'Connor threatened for Walsall inside three minutes with a decent 20-yard effort but it was the only chance in a scrappy opening spell.

With 11 minutes gone, however, the game sparked to life as Wimbledon's defence was punished for some poor marking.

Junior's cross into the box dropped to Wrack who found himself in plenty of space and drove a close-range shot into the net.

The visitors were offering nothing up front and it took them until the 23rd minute for the prolific David Connolly to get an opportunity, which he spurned.

Moments later, he curled a weak shot wide as Wimbledon began to get going.

Walsall's attempts to extend their lead were similarly tame, Zigor Aranalde going closest with a corner kick which was well claimed by goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

Neil Shipperley found the arms of Walker with an ambitious shot in injury-time before Connolly again put a wild strike into the crowd.

Dons manager Murdoch replaced Damien Francis with Wayne Gray at the break and Connolly threatened immediately with a shot which was well saved.

The Saddlers, though, broke up field and almost created a second goal when Danny Sonner's corner gifted Junior a free header that was flicked wide by the Brazilian.

But with the Londoners producing the better football, Junior made amends for his miss on 62 minutes by doubling Walsall's advantage with that excellent free-kick.

The scoreline was harsh on Wimbledon, whose only real chance to reduce the deficit fell to off-form Connolly who once more headed Gray's cross into the crowd.


Walsall: Walker, Bazeley, Aranalde, Hay, Roper, Wrack, O'Connor, Corica, Sonner, Leitao, Junior. Subs: Ward, Carbon, Matias, Zdrilic, Simpson.

Wimbledon: Davis, Hawkins, Darlington, Leigertwood, Williams, McAnuff, Francis, Andersen, Reo-Coker, Shipperley, Connolly. Subs: Willmott, Agyemang, Heald, Nowland, Gray.

Referee: F Stretton (Nottinghamshire)


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