CITY 3 MANCHESTER UNITED 3
League Division 1
6th November 1971
City Lee(57 pen), Bell(62), Summerbee(89)
United McIlroy(39), Kidd(46), Aston(63)
Ref Ray Tinkler
City Corrigan, Book, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Davies, Lee, Mellor – sub Young(unused)
United Stepney, O’Neil, Dunne, Gowling, James, Sadler, Morgan, Kidd, Charlton, McIlroy, Best – sub Aston(45)
This 85th Manchester Derby will go down in history as one of the greatest Manchester Derbies ever. Packed with incidents and with an amazing finish. Peter Gardner in the MEN commented Derby teams don’t come any luckier than Man United, outplayed for three quarters of this gripping Maine Road drama, they emerged with the point that kept them on top of the first division.
Indeed the openly anti United and possibly man of the match, Mike Doyle, pondered over City’s bad luck, commenting “After that I think it’s about time I started lighting candles”.
City controlled the game from the start and were playing some breathtaking football, Francis Lee pulling a double save from Alex Stepney on the edge of the six yard box, then the rotund City forward a goal disallowed for hand ball and Davies should have scored from a diving header but put it wide from a tremendous Lee cross, indeed Francis Lee was involved in virtually everything in the first half and after being booked for an innocuous push on Best, Lee threw himself to the ground in a diving motion indicating to Mr Tinkler that Best had dived. A very iconic moment in the season.
So how could United be a goal up by the half time whistle?
For Manchester United 17 year old debutant Sammy McIlroy, together with George Best were their best players, and it was these two who combined against the run of play to put United up, Kidd crossed into the area, Best neatly laid the ball off for McIlroy who stroked the ball home from 10 yards.
Just before the interval City went close again, Lee picked out Colin Bell in the box and the City Captain was foiled by a brave dive at his feet by the United custodian.
The Blues started sloppily in the second half and were caught cold, when George Best crossed for Brian Kidd to score from just 6 yards, United had had two shots on target and were 2-0 up.
City took the game to United from the restart and within seconds Mike Doyle went close with a header, then Davies had a headed goal disallowed for offside, and Colin Bell had a close range shot saved by Stepney. Then with nearly an hour gone Lee turned cleverly in the box and won a penalty which he smashed through the fingers of Stepney to make it 2-1.
Just five minutes later the noise in Maine Road was deafening as Francis Lee put Colin Bell through on goal with a defence splitting pass and The King coolly slotted home the equaliser.
The Blues continued their onslaught on United’s goal as Summerbee’s header was well saved by Stepney. But then United had a rare attack as George best broke in midfield beating two, then finding Morgan inside the 18 yard box, the winger’s shot was saved by the feet of Corrigan, with the ball rebounding to Gowling and with the City custodian on the ground it seemed a sure goal as he blasted the ball goalwards from 10 yards, but an incredible header off the line by Alan Oakes kept the scores level. However from the resultant corner, Corrigan punched clear to Aston who drove the ball into the box from 25 yards the ball hit someone in the crowded area and deflected into the net, Aston was credited with the goal on 63 minutes.
Despite plenty of pressure City couldn’t breakdown the United defence and then with just a few minutes left on Mr Tinkler’s watch Mike Summerbee beat two United players and unleashed a tremendous shot from 25 yards that Stepney tipped away brilliantly for a corner. Lee quickly took the corner with seconds remaining, Stepney fumbled the ball and it fell to Summerbee 10 yards out who smashed it into the top corner of the net to end a magnificent Manchester derby 3-3.
Tony Green writing for The Times described the equaliser as “The perfect amen to one of those rare games”