ref Dennis Corbett
Middlesbrough Platt, Craggs, Jones, Maddren, Boam, Gates, Stiles, McMordie, Mills, Hickton, Downing – sub Laidlaw(55)
City Corrigan, Book, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Davies, Lee, Towers sub – Hill (unused)
This shock exit for City at a snow covered Ayresome Park hinged on three controversial decisions by referee Dennis Corbett, the first just before half time, Alan Oakes put in a strong challenge on Derek Downing, but the Boro man managed to cross for David Mills to force the ball past Joe Corrigan for what he thought was the opening goal, however Mr Corbett had apparently already blew up for a free kick to Boro for what he considered obstruction by Oakes. and so the sides went in goalless at half-time.
In the 63rd minute a ball was played through the City defence to John Hickton who was stood in an offside position, the linesman’s flag was already up as the ball slightly deflected off Tony Towers on it’s travels, Hickton took the ball in his path and scored past Corrigan. referee Corbett awarded the goal but was ‘persuaded’ by a very vocal City side to speak to the linesman that had flagged before the ball had hit Towers. After a quick conflab the referee confirmed he would allow the goal and Middlesbrough were one up.
Five minutes later a flick on from Mike Summerbee seemed to deflect off Boro’s Stuart Boam and into Mike Doyle’s path who appeared to be in an offside position, and Doyley scored what he thought was the equaliser. The linesman had flagged and Mr Corbett disallowed the goal despite protests from the City players, after the game Mike Doyle said “As long as I live I will say I couldn’t be offside because the ball came off a defender and the full back was standing on the line.” Boro’s manager Stan Anderson was also quoted as saying “If what had happened to Manchester City had happened to us I would have been furious.”
The game was difficult for the players with a freezing blizzard blowing throughout the 90 minutes and a slippery top surface, Joe Mercer quipped “A mountain goat could not have played in that lot.”
In the first half there were a couple of near misses but nothing of note on target, Corrigan’s handling wasn’t great as Hickton challenged a cross and the ball fell just wide of the post, and shots by Lee and Towers both were slightly wide of the Boro goal.
In the second half apart from the controversy, the elements were causing City’s normal fluent passing play to be non-existent and all they could muster was a shot by Lee that Craggs saved and two shots by Colin Bell which were wide of the mark.