CITY 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 0
F.A. Cup 3rd Round
2nd January 1971
City Corrigan, Book, Mann, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Young, Jeffries – sub Carrodus
Wigan Reeves, Turner, Sutherland, Milne, Coutts, Gillibrand, Temple, Todd, Davies, Fleming, Oates
COLIN BELL GRABS THE WINNER
Wigan lost the 3rd round match when a solitary goal from Colin Bell sealed their fate 18 minutes from time. But the non-leaguers, as they were at the time, won plenty, including the majority of the hearts of the 46,212 paying customers and all the praise going in the national newspapers. City’s manager loe Mercer gave his usual dignified verdict: “We won. 1-0 but give praise to them. We got the win, but they take the glory”. City’s senior coach Malcolm Allison was, as could be expected, more expansive amid his relief: “They are the finest non-league side l have ever seen,” he insisted.
…Peter Slingsby gave Milne’s men a rapturous write up in the News of the World: “These heroes from the mining community well deserved a draw against City, the side who have won almost every major honour in the last few years.
”Wigan reduced them to a stumbling, fumbling force with their intelligent ice-cool tactics in defence and midfield. These tactics were shaped on the calm resourcefulness of player-manager Milne, the stout-hearted resistance of giant centre half Coutts and two 20 year olds, Gillibrand and ex- Liverpool starlet Todd.
“These four., unbelievably and yet unquestionably, cut City down to size. They set the tempo and dictated the pace at which the tie would be played. ` “‘And in the end the goal that robbed Wigan came from a blunder by ’keeper Dennis Reeves. He ‘“topped’ a free kick, his first mistake in an otherwise flawless performance, and a quick link-up by Neil Young and Mike Summerbee sent Colin Bell in for the vital facesaver”.
The goal came in a critical period. Not only was time running out for the frustrated Blues but a few minutes earlier they had lost striker Francis Lee through an ankle infury Even though he had untypically squandered a coup e of chances it was always better to have Lee in the line when goals were the urgent need.
The Daily Mirror’s Bob Russell changed the focus a little when it was all over and told the story of a sad man: ”Secretary Frank Postlethwaite will at the Wigan ground this morning set fire to a dream that nearly came true. He will burn the 35,000 replay tickets which he had carefully locked in his car outside Maine Road as his favourite team fought with every talent they possessed to take City back to their non-league parlour. “Wigan were more than magnificent, particularly in their brave back line, where long legged Coutts got his gawky frame to everything with ample support from tenacious Gillibrand. “Wigan were drained of energy at the end as their 15,000 followers were joined by City’s relieved legions applauding them off”
There were, however some tangible rewards from Wigan Athletic’s first competitive encounter with the Blues. The picked up around £8,000 as their share of the Maine Road gate receipts, a princely sum a decade ago…
FROM CITY PROGRAMME 27TH OCTOBER 1982