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Crabtree’s Classics: Villa feel the force as Joe Kinnear leads charge to safety

A first home win for a Wimbledon manager who guided the club to a top-six finish in the 1990s

3 July 2020

We’ve this month started looking back at key matches in Wimbledon’s history with Stephen Crabtree selecting a memorable game from each of the last 31 seasons.

In the third part of the series, Stephen, who is Editor of the Historical Don, looks back to the 1991-92 campaign. It was a season when a far from successful managerial appointment almost caused the Dons to miss out on becoming founder members of the Premier League.

Saturday 8th February 1992: Division One

Wimbledon (1) 2 Fashanu 24, Phelan 87

Aston Villa (0) 0

The transformation was astonishing. Flying high in sixth place when Ray Harford quit the club in October, just one win during Peter Withe’s 104-day reign had left the Dons sliding towards the relegation places. But within days of taking over former reserve team boss Joe Kinnear had changed the atmosphere around the club and his first home game in charge produced a comfortable win over Aston Villa.

A flu-stricken John Fashanu got out of his sick bed to score his 12th goal of the season in the first half before Phelan added a second with eight minutes left. The visitors hardly mounted an attack all game and the only surprise was that it took so long for the Dons to secure their first win in ten league matches. Afterwards it was announced that both goal scorers had come off the transfer list in order to secure the club’s future – a sign of renewed morale.

“We were magnificent - I’m absolutely delighted for everyone here,” Kinnear said. “It was important the bubble didn’t burst after our draw at QPR last week. We have to make sure we keep up the good work. I’ve set a target of 43 points for safety – I hope it will be enough. It hasn’t surprised me how quickly things have turned around.”

Wimbledon: Segers, Cork, Phelan, Barton, Scales, McAlister, Miller, Earle, Fashanu, Sanchez (Ryan 45), McGee (Clarke 74).

Pic credit: Paul Willatts.

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