CITY 4 CHELSEA 1
League Division 1
11th January 1969
City Owen(2), Lee, Young
City Dowd, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Lee, Bell, Owen, Young, Coleman – sub Bowles
Chelsea Bonetti, Hollins, McCreadie, Osgood, Webb, Harris, Cooke, Tambling, Birchenall, Boyle, Houseman – sub Houston(unused)
…everybody wanted to beat the reigning League champions, and some of the clubs, who might have comfortably been seen off, managed to raise their game and add a Sky Blue scalp to their belts.
Add to which the fact that until the Chelsea game, the Blues had been without their influential captain, Tony Book. He had been out the entire season with Achilles tendon problems and had only been pronounced fit enough to play, and train, properly in mid December.
…City were in 14th place before the Chelsea clash, while the Pensioners were fifth, nine points behind the leaders, Liverpool. Mike Summerbee was missing from our regular line-up through injury and he’d also missed the Cup-tie against Luton.
His deputy against Chelsea was Bobby Owen, the close-season signing from Bury who’d had such a sensational start on his City debut.
That was the Charity Shield game which was played at Maine Road – no Wembley trips in those days – when City had trounced West Brom to the tune of 6-I. Owen had savoured the occasion by scoring twice in the rout.
Since then he’d had a barren patch as far as scoring was concerned. “I can’t put a finger on what’s wrong;’ he said at the time. “It could be that I’m trying too hard and not playing my natural style.”
He’d had a spell in the Reserves after playing in the opening three games of the season and the Chelsea match was only his ninth full outing.
The visitors took the lead after 22 minutes, and the blame was laid at the door of goalkeeper Harry Dowd. Peter Osgood, playing in midfield, split the City defence with a long pass downfield and Harry had come too far out of his goal. Peter Houseman latched on to it and clipped the ball into the net with Dowd and Book watching helplessly.
Chelsea then took command and controlled the game for some time, so when City equalised after 35 minutes, it came as something of a surprise.
It was a well-constructed goal, made by Owen and no doubt he was pleased with the outcome. He controlled a pass
from Colin Bell and squeezed the ball through the narrowest of gaps to Neil Young. He turned and in one movement hit a beautifully accurate shot into the far corner.
Bell had twisted his left knee early in the game and after going off for treatment had returned to play with the knee strapped up. However, he failed to appear after the interval and Stan Bowles took his place.
“Stan the Man” was the power behind the Blues going in front. Ron Harris fouled Tony Coleman and Mike Doyle knocked forward the free kick. Bowles and Owen both had shots blocked and the ball then ran again to Bowles, who fed Francis Lee. By this time Osgood and the Chelsea ‘keeper, Peter Bonetti, had assumed horizontal positions on the goal-line and could only watch as Franny’s shot exploded into the roof of the net.
After 63 minutes Bowles was again the architect. He’d drifted out on to the left wing and sent in a slide-rule pass for Young to run on to. Neil’s fierce drive was diverted into the net by Owen – his first League goal for City.
And he hadn’t finished. A minute later Young sent a pass out towards the right and Owen gave chase in what seemed a lost cause. But he gained possession, then fired a shot towards the goal that swerved and dipped over the head of Bonetti.
Chelsea never gave up the ghost, though. They kept in the hunt and were unlucky not to pull a goal back just before the final whistle when Osgood struck the crossbar with a rasping shot.
ADAPTED FROM AN ARTICLE IN THE CITY PROGRAMME 23RD DECEMBER 1995