CITY 3 MIDDLESBROUGH 2
League Division 1
17th January 1981
City McDonald(28), Reeves(44), Hutchison(76)
Middlesbrough Hodgson(7), McAndrew(71)
Ref Bert Newsome
City Corrigan, Ranson, McDonald, Reid, Power, Caton, Boyer, Gow,, Mackenzie, Hutchison, Reeves- Sub Bennett(38)
Middlesbrough Platt, Nattrass, Bailey, McAndrew, Angus, Bell, Cochrane, Proctor, Hodgson, Shearer, Armstrong – Sub Jankovic(66)
TWO OFF AS BOND’S BLUES BEAT BORO IN FIVE GOAL THRILLER
There can have been few buys in soccer which have transferred a team from being virtually certain relegation candidates to contenders for two cups in one season than those made by John Bond when he arrived at Maine Road in the autumn of 1980.
He assessed what the team needed and went out shopping with his cheque book to sign Bobby McDonald and Tommy Hutchison from Coventry City, then Gerry Gow from Bristol City, all three of them extremely experienced players.
And, in January 1981, as the Blues were stepping out in the early stages of the FA Cup trail which would take them to Wembley in May, two of those signings scored against today’s visitors, Middlesbrough.
City had been in dire straits when Bond was appointed manager and it was clear that new blood was needed. In came the newcomers, and the steady march up the table began. When Middlesbrough arrived at Maine Road, City were 12th, with the Teessiders one place below.
A close result was on the cards, and so it proved in a nail-biter right up to the end.
David Hodgson gave Boro the lead after only six minutes. Some neat footwork bamboozled the home defence and Hodgson darted in to place the ball out of Joe Corrigan’s grasp.
It took 22 minutes for the Blues to draw level, and this was thanks to the free-scoring full back, McDonald. The goal was constructed by Gow, who put in a low cross which McDonald bravely met with his head.
City managed to edge in front seconds before the
interval. Nicky Reid punctured the Boro defence on the left and from his cross, Kevin Reeves headed past Jim Platt.
The next piece of excitement arrived on the hour when the referee, Bert Newsome, decided that the behaviour of Reid and Hodgson, after a collision, went beyond the bounds of good manners, and he despatched the pair of them to test the bath-water.
Boro then replaced David Shearer with Bozo Jankovic, an exlawyer who had arrived in the North East for £ 100,000 in February 1979.
His presence soon revitalised the side, and their threat to equalise took solid form in the 71st minute. Ian Bell made ground down the left before passing inside for skipper Tony McAndrew to make the score 2-2.
Could the Blues hang on? Losing Reid appeared to have upset their balance, and the City sub (Dave Bennett) had already been used to replace Ray Ranson, who had sustained a hamstring injury.
But Steve Mackenzie, Paul Power and `Hutch’ kept driving forward, and the Blues suddenly had a chance to go ahead.
The ball came in from the wing, delivered by Phil Boyer, for Hutchison to meet on the volley. It took a deflection off McAndrew and flew past the despairing Platt.
After all the excitement, the manager was somewhat cautious in his comments afterwards. He felt the game was an anti-climax after the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool three days earlier and that the players were rather “edgy”, but at the same time he was fell of praise for the way the team fought back.
ADAPTED FROM ‘ONE TO REMEMBER’ IN THE CITY PROGRAMME 23RD SEPTEMBER 1995