Wimbledon 0 - Stoke City 1

Last updated : 17 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

But Richard Johnson could be in hot water after he had to be restrained by Dons boss Stuart Murdoch after he went for the fourth official following his late sending-off.

Noel-Williams struck nine minutes after the break from close range to leave Wimbledon in big trouble at the foot of Division One.

Stoke, who have taken 19 points from the last 21 in the league, gained revenge for their FA Cup defeat by the rock-bottom Dons in midweek.

But Noel-Williams' 54th minute goal, his sixth of the season, was one of the few bright spots in a dour game in which both sides seemed sick of the sight of each other.

And the familiarity turned to contempt five minutes from time when Jamie Mackie's foul sparked a 22-man brawl after which Johnson got his marching orders for throwing a punch.

Wimbledon sorely missed the talents of Patrick Agyemang who was sold to Gillingham last week, as Dean Holdsworth lacked pace, while Wayne Gray lookedout of his depth and blew a number of chances before being substituted on the hour.

He should have put the home side ahead after 40 minutes, but fired wide from just five yards out when Ben Harding set him up from a corner.

But Stoke were equally guilty five minutes later when Ade Akinbiyi rattled the post from inside the six-yard box after Steve Banks had swatted away Noel-Williams' shot.

Noel-Williams could have had another in the 59th minute but for Banks' diving save to deny the striker form close range.

Wimbledon had the ball in the net when Ed de Goey fell backwards past the goal line, but referee Lee Probert ruled Holdsworth to have shoved the Dutchman over and City held on to take the points.