CITY 1 ARSENAL 2
F.A. Cup 5th Round
17th February 1971
Arsenal George(17 & 49)
Ref D Smith
City Corrigan, Book, Mann, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Heslop, Bell, Lee, Young, Bowyer – sub Jeffries(unused)
Arsenal Wilson, Rice, McNab, Storey, McLintock, Simpson, Armstrong, Sammels, Radford, Kennedy, George – sub Graham(unused)
COLIN BELL SCORES CITY’S GOAL
CHARLIE GEORGE SCORES FOR ARSENAL
TAKEN FROM AN ARTICLE BY PETER GARDNER FROM THE CITY PROGRAMME 18TH JANUARY 1978
….City. having eliminated non-league Wigan Athletic thanks to the only goal from Colin Bell in the third round and then gone to Stamford Bridge to dispose of Chelsea 3-0 in round four, were highly confident they would next eliminate another London side and progress to the quarter finals.
Bell, having scored two of the goals that sunk Chelsea, was in cracking form at that time when City were still one of the most feared sides in the country. They had won the FA Cup in 1969, the League Cup in 1970 when they also added the European Cup winners’ Cup to the silverware of the Maine Road sideboard.
Arsenal at home didn’t seem too difficult a task and a 45,105 crowd was eagerly anticipating another City victory. How wrong they were!
The Highbury side demolished City with one of the most comprehensive displays l have ever seen in years. Alan Ball, senior. then manager of Preston North End and a spectator that night, told me after the 2-1 defeat of City: “That was the finest display I’ve seen by a First Division side this season.”
Arsenal skipper Frank McLintock went even further when he stepped from the Gunners’ dressing room to say: “lt was a 2-1 massacre. We were superb on the night.”
Arsenal were indeed superb in a masterful display in which they totally destroyed a disappointing City side. Ball’s summing-up and the frank comment from McLintock summed up a fifth round tie that had only one logical conclusion after Arsenal had raced into a 17th minute lead from a Charlie George free kick.
The Gunners‘ devastating young striker, who made his international debut the following week for the England Under-23 side against Scotland in Glasgow, made it two four minutes into the second half and the only thing Bell’s late consolation goal did was to make the eventual score of 2-1 look slightly more respectable.
Yet, incredibly, it could have been 2-2 had Mike Doyle accepted the best chance of the match before Bell scored. Such a result would, in all honesty, have been a travesty so dominant were Arsenal, who had enough gilt-edged chances to have won by four, or even five goals. It was one of City’s feeblest performances for a long time, although all credit must go to Arsenal fora near faultless show that deservedly sent them through to a-quarter final meeting at Leicester.
There was hardly a weakness in the ranks of a Highbury side who refreshingly refused to sit back on the foundation of a two goal lead.They ambitiously went searching for more, completely wrecking City’s composure at the back where even the normally immaculate Tommy Booth, hindered by a gashed lip, and skipper Tony Book were made to struggle.
Arthur Mann, left back at that time, had a disastrous match while Alan Oakes, failed to stamp his normal midfield authority.
The gritty endeavour of Doyle boosted City morale in their belated attempts to save the game while Neil Young marked his return with a performance that saw him emerge as City’s best and most persistent forward on the night. Ian Bowyer tried hard. But again Arsenal pulled out their trump card by effectively blotting out City’s England pair of that time, Lee and Bell.
Arsenal, sharp in the tackle and positive in their use of the ball, never stopped running on the then notorious Maine Road surface to finish clearly the superior team. And Joe Mercer, himself a one time famous ex-‘Gunner’s’ skipper, was the first to admit: “We have no excuses.”
City’s slide off the FA Cup trail started when George Heslop headed a ball back to Joe Corrigan who was two strides out of the penalty area. Lee effectively lined up the wall at the free kick that resulted, but it crumbled like toy bricks when George shaped up to drive in a shot that was a winner all the way.
It was George again who scored the second when Bob McNab and the clever little George Armstrong quickly played the ball from defence. George made right Charlies out of the Blues as he streaked in to tuck the ball well wide of Corrigan, who later denied Arsenal’s man-of-the-match a hat-trick with a superb save at the foot of a post. Arsenal were home and dry and it is now well recorded history that they went on to not only win the FA Cup, but the League title, too, onIy the third side this century to do so.