COVENTRY CITY 2 CITY 2
League Cup 5th Round
18th December 1973
City Booth(19), Leman(61)
Coventry Alderson(22 and 56)
Ref Malcolm Sinclar
City MacRae, Pardoe, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, Towers, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Marsh, Leman – sub Barrett(unused)
Coventry Glazier, Coop, Holmes, McGuire, Dugdale, Parker, Cartwright, Alderson, Stein, Green, Hutchison – sub Cattlin(59)
This League Cup Quarter Final at Highfield Road should have been remembered as a great game of football, instead it was referee Malcolm Sinclair who grabbed all the headlines.
Firstly he sent off Coventry defender Jim Holmes in the 19th minute for a foul on Francis Lee, and then later in the first half he farcically chased Coventry trainer Tommy Casey off the pitch to book him for comments made for not letting the medical staff onto the pitch to treat Colin Stein who was down injured.
Regarding the sending off, Coventry manager Joe Mercer was damning with his comments after the game: “The ref ruined it. Every time I see him on the television he seems to be taking names. The sending off was harsh, it was a foul, but only trivial.”
Rodney Marsh had a slightly different view: “Holmes took a kick and caught Franny Lee in the mouth. It happened right under the referee’s nose. There was no alternative but to order the player off, and it took courage.”
The local press ridiculously tried to blame Francis Lee claiming he feigned injury after being kicked in the face. John Lamb (obviously not a fan of Franny!) wrote this ‘attack’ on City’s striker in The Coventry Evening Telegraph: “Francis Lee… epitomises a lot that is wrong with English football… Lee’s performance was a sad epitaph to a player whose artistry has thrilled thousands, his game now degenerated into a series of schoolgirl tactics that left me wondering why a man possessed of so much skill should allow himself to become the tool of brute force.
… His performance was couched in snide and niggling asides… his game now seems to be based on a big “con” … The England International clearly fouled Holmes and then writhed dramatically on the ground after the young Coventry full back appeared to bring his knee in the direction of Lee’s face.
Holmes, rightly, was sent off. But Lee’s agony was exaggerated. His clear intention was to get Holmes sent off, and he succeeded admirably… His performance would have made any amateur thespian proud and Lee seems to accept histrionics as being all part of the game.
… It’s a pity a referee can’t send off a player for overacting, for Lee’s penchant in this direction has sadly become a major part of his game, on Wednesday’s evidence.”
As for Franny, he simply said: “It’s not for me to say whether he deserved to be sent off or not… I didn’t know the ref had sent anybody off. I thought Holmes had been injured.”
From the resultant free kick Tommy Booth headed City into the lead. However Brian Alderson quickly equalised and then scored a second in the 56th minute to put ten men Coventry ahead in the tie. Young Denis Leman scored with a header less than ten minutes later to seal a replay at Maine Road.