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Dons Must Keep The Dream Alive

Joe Kinnear faces one of the biggest challenges of his managerial career after the Dons suffered semi-final heartache yet again, writes John Payne.

Kinnear will be shattered that Wimbledon have been turned back at the gates of Wembley for the third time in 24 months.

And it was noticeable that it was Kinnear who chairman Sam Hammam turned to first for some consoling words after referee Gary Willard had blown the final whistle on the Dons' dreams of the Twin Towers.

The job of ensuring this season doesn't finish up as a disappointing damp squib is now dependent on Kinnear putting the disappointment behind him and lifting his players for the end-of-season run-in.

This season could still end in triumph for the Dons if they can qualify for Europe through the league.

But that is going to take a considerable improvement in the Dons' recent form which has now seen them go nearly 1,000 minutes without scoring a goal.

Saturday's clash with Aston Villa at Selhurst Park may provide a good opportunity to lift spirits. Villa have had an excellent season but their form recently has been less impressive and Wimbledon may be facing them at a good time.

The Dons didn't have luck on their side on Tuesday. Jason Euell forced one outstanding save out of Spurs goalkeeper Ian Walker while Robbie Earle's rasping last minute drive crashed against the crossbar.

But only occasionally did they look capable of taking the tie into extra-time after Steffen Iversen's 38th minute lob for Spurs - the only goal scored during the two legs.

So-called home advantage counted for absolutely nothing - despite the sell-out 25,000 crowd.

With Spurs fans filling two sides of the Selhurst Park stadium and also out-numbering Dons supporters in the Main Stand, Kinnear's men didn't receive the vocal support they deserve. Big home matches will always feel like away games for as long as the Dons have to play at Selhurst Park.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000.Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.

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