Dons post Earle hint

Liverpool's double cup ambitions must now survive two Selhurst Park trips in a week after Wimbledon were robbed of an Anfield victory by the thickness of the paint-work.

With two minutes remaining on the clock, Wimbledon, under the cosh for the vast majority of the second half, broke away.

And David James was helpless as Robbie Earle unleashed a fierce drive that crashed off the keeper's right-hand post and back out again.

That would have been cruel on Liverpool who had made the running against foes who knocked them out of last season's Coca-Cola Cup on penalties.

But the Dons, with disgraced skipper Vinnie Jones left behind in London, produced a battling response to their 7-1 record league defeat at Aston Villa eight days earlier.

And after travelling to Crystal Palace this week, armed with a one-goal Coca-Cola Cup first leg semi-final lead, Liverpool must return next week to replay against their bogey side Wimbledon.

They have now won only one of their last 11 duels with Wimbledon, whose boss Joe Kinnear's gamble in demoting Dean Holdsworth and Mick Harford to the bench paid off smartly when Andy Clarke put them ahead.
He linked brilliantly with Earle, whose cheeky back-pass allowed Clarke to beat James at the Kop end.

It meant that Liverpool's return to a flat back four in the absence of banned Phil Babb lasted just one minute 55 seconds before being breached.

Robbie Fowler equalised for Liverpool, with the 19-year-old's first FA Cup goal and 25th of the season.

While Fowler broke his duck in the competition his partner and captain Ian Rush failed in his sixth attempt to score the one he needs to equal Denis Law's 41-goal 20th century FA Cup record.

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