NOTTS COUNTY 3 CITY 2
League Division 2
6th May 1985
City Simpson 2
County Fashanu, Harkouk, Young
Ref I Barrett
City Williams, Clements, Lomax, Reid, McCarthy, Phi|Iips, Simpson, May, Power, McNab, Kinsey – sub Redmond(unused)
Notts County Leonard, Richards, Downing, Yates, Watson, Sims, Goodwin, Fashanu, Young, Hunt, Harkouk – used sub McParland
To say that it was make-or-break day is an exaggeration, but only a slight one because everything pointed to the fact that the destiny of both clubs would be dictated by the result of that game.
Quite simply, if Manchester City won they would be promoted to Division One and if Notts County lost, they would be sentenced to drop into Division Three.
On paper, there could only be one result. But City had stuttered since the time when they led the table in mid-March while County, inspired by the return of Jimmy Sirrel as manager, were refusing to concede that relegation was inevitable …there was genuine cause to believe that County could claw their way closer to safety. And that proved to be fully justified because Justin Fashanu, Harkouk and Young had all hit the target in a dramatic 13 minutes spell midway through the first period. No one could have predicted that County would be leading 3-0 after 38 minutes, least of all the 10,000 City fans who had travelled south to watch their favourites clinch promotion!
They reacted badly to the stunning scoreline and when a section of fencing was ripped away in front of The Kop, the Police insisted the game could not continue until it was repaired.
The start of the second half was delayed for 30 minutes and during that period, Sirrel and City boss Billy NcNeilI both appealed for calm ever the public address system.
When the game eventually got underway again, County had lost their momentum and the situation wasn’t helped when veteran former City defender Dave Watson had to limp off. By then, the tension was already starting to increase because Paul Simpson gave City hope with a goal 10 minutes after the lengthy break. With 13 minutes remaining, the talented teenager grabbed another and for County players, staff and supporters, it seemed like an eternity before the referee eventually got around to blowing the final whistle. The events of that remarkable afternoon made national headlines the following day and it was sad that they should be for the wrong reasons because the match itself had provided outstanding entertainment.
County, knowing that “Miission ImpossibIe” could still be achieved, were ecstatic while the men from Maine Road feared they could miss out on an immediate return to the top flight.
ADAPTED FROM AN ARTICLE BY TERRY BOWLES PUBLISHED IN THE NOTTS COUNTY PROGRAMME 16TH FEBRUARY 1991