Soton 1 Manchester Utd 0

Stewart Houston And Mick Channon

South­ampton 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 0, Wemb­ley Sta­dium, FA Cup Fi­nal, May 1, 1976. The FA Cup Fi­nal ag­ainst Sec­ond Di­vi­sion South­ampton proved to be a much harder chal­lenge than ex­pec­ted for Man­chester Uni­ted. The Reds were fa­vour­ites among the pun­dits to over­come So­ton, but Mar­tin Bu­chan and his men were shocked by a late sec­ond ha­lf goal from Ports­mouth born for­ward Bob­by Stokes.

Man­chester Uni­ted had be­gun the 1975-76 cam­paign wi­th a con­fid­ence-boost­ing 2-0 win over Wolver­hampton Wan­derers at Mo­lineux on the 16th of Au­gust, wi­th bo­th goals com­ing from Lou Ma­cari. And three days la­ter, Uni­ted be­at Birm­ing­ham City 2-0 at St Andrew´s thro­ugh a sec­ond-ha­lf brace from Sam­my Mc­Ilroy and went top of the ta­ble as a res­ult. Man­chester Uni­ted fol­lowed up by out­classing lowly pla­ced Shef­field Uni­ted 5-1 at Old Traf­ford in a mat­ch which they dom­in­ated from the be­gin­ning to the fi­nal whistle. Uni­ted were then held to a 1-1 draw by Cov­entry City at Old Traf­ford, but they got back to their win­ning ways wi­th a 1-0 away win over Sto­ke City, and a 3-2 tri­umph ag­ainst Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur at ho­me. On the 13th of Septem­ber, Man­chester Uni­ted suf­fered their fir­st de­feat of the sea­son when they lost 1-0 to Queens Park Ran­gers at Shepherd´s Bush where for­mer Chel­sea de­fender Dave Webb sco­red the win­ning goal for The Hoops in the third min­ute of the clash. Af­ter the set­back ag­ainst Ran­gers, Uni­ted nar­rowly edged out Ips­wich To­wn by a 1-0 mar­gin at Old Traf­ford thanks to a fir­st-ha­lf goal from Stew­art Hou­s­ton, but then came a 2-1 de­feat ag­ainst reign­ing cham­pi­ons Der­by Coun­ty at Base­ball Gro­und, a 2-2 draw away to Man­chester City, and a 0-0 ho­me draw wi­th Lei­cester City. This was fol­lowed by a 2-1 win over Leeds Uni­ted at El­land Road and a 3-1 vic­tory ag­ainst Ar­senal at Old Traf­ford be­fore they lost 2-1 to West Ham Uni­ted at Up­ton Park on the 25th of October.

On the 1st of Nov­ember, Man­chester Uni­ted be­at Nor­wich City 1-0 at Old Traf­ford thanks to a goal from Stu­art Pear­son, but a 3-1 de­feat to North West rivals Liver­pool at An­field the fol­low­ing week saw them move down to fifth place. The next three ga­mes were a com­fort­able 2-0 vic­tory over As­ton Vil­la at Old Traf­ford, a dis­ap­point­ing 3-1 de­feat ag­ainst Ar­senal at High­bury, and a clo­se 1-0 win at ho­me to New­castle Uni­ted. A hard-fou­ght 0-0 draw wi­th Jack­ie Charlton´s Middles­brough at Ayre­some Park on the 6th of Dec­ember was fol­lowed by a com­pre­hens­ive 4-1 tri­umph ag­ainst Shef­field Uni­ted at Bramall Lane and a 1-0 vic­tory over Wolver­hampton at Old Traf­ford, be­fore draw­ing 1-1 wi­th Ever­ton at Good­ison Park. On the day af­ter Box­ing Day, Man­chester Uni­ted edged out Burn­ley 2-1 at Old Traf­ford and they won by the ex­act same score at ho­me to Queens Park Ran­gers four­teen days la­ter to go top of the stand­ings. Uni­ted re­mained top of the ta­ble af­ter man­aging a 1-1 draw ag­ainst Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur at White Hart Lane on the 17 of Jan­uary and they con­tin­ued their good form by de­feat­ing Birm­ing­ham City 3-1 on their own soil on the last day of the month. But af­ter draw­ing 1-1 ag­ainst Cov­entry City at High­field Road in their fir­st fix­ture of Feb­ruary, Man­chester Uni­ted were over­taken by Liver­pool who ev­entually went on to win the cham­pi­on­ship for a re­cord break­ing ninth time.

As for the Lea­gue Cup, Man­chester Uni­ted had beaten Fourth Di­vi­sion Brent­ford 2-1 at Old Traf­ford in the sec­ond ro­und on the 10th of Septem­ber to pro­gress thro­ugh to the next ro­und of the tour­na­ment where they de­feated As­ton Vil­la 2-1 at Vil­la Park. The draw for the fourth ro­und gave Uni­ted an away tie wi­th even­tu­al win­ners Man­chester City which they lost 4-0. The Cit­izens got them­selves in­to an early lead as Den­nis Tue­art net­ted wi­th a clo­se ran­ge ef­fort in the fir­st min­ute and they had their sec­ond goal thir­teen min­utes la­ter when Asa Hart­ford ham­mered ho­me from just out­side the six-yard box. Tue­art then com­pleted his brace in the 28th min­ute to put City three goals ahead be­fore Joe Royle ad­ded a fourth twelve min­utes from time. In the FA Cup, how­ever, Man­chester Uni­ted had edged out Sec­ond Di­vi­sion Ox­ford Uni­ted 2-1 at Old Traf­ford in the third ro­und on the 3rd of Jan­uary be­fore they pro­ceeded to the fifth ro­und of the com­pet­i­tion by de­feat­ing Third Di­vi­sion Pe­ter­bor­ough Uni­ted 3-1 in an­oth­er ho­me fix­ture three weeks la­ter. On the 14th of Feb­ruary, Uni­ted be­at fel­low Fir­st Di­vi­sion club Lei­cester City 2-1 at Fil­bert Street thro­ugh fir­st ha­lf goals from Lou Ma­cari and Ger­ry Da­ly to qual­i­fy for the quart­er-fi­nals where they over­came Wolver­hampton by 3-2 at Mo­lineux in the re­play af­ter a 1-1 draw in the fir­st meet­ing. And on the 3rd of April, Man­chester Uni­ted book­ed a place in the fi­nal af­ter beat­ing Der­by 2-0 at Hills­bor­ough in the semi-fi­nals cour­tesy of a double from Gor­don Hill.

Des­pite be­ing the un­der­dogs, South­ampton ar­rived at Wemb­ley Sta­dium de­term­ined to give a good ac­count of them­selves. And al­though Man­chester Uni­ted star­ted the fi­nal on the front foot and dom­in­ated pro­ceed­ings for large parts of the fir­st ha­lf, the red shirts fou­nd it hard to break the de­fens­ive dead­lock. Ger­ry Da­ly and Gor­don Hill came clo­se to find­ing the tar­get for Uni­ted early on in the tie, but they were bo­th denied by South­ampton goal­keeper Ian Turn­er. Wi­th the ha­lf-time break fast ap­proach­ing, a dan­ger­ous free-kick from Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­al Al­ex For­syth ended up at the feet of Hill who fired the ball goal­wards, on­ly for his shot to be bloc­ked by Mel Blyth. South­ampton saw a lot more of the ball fol­low­ing the re­sump­tion of play and Law­rie McMenemy´s troops near­ly went ahead early in the sec­ond frame when Three Li­ons in­ter­na­tion­al Mick Chan­non fou­nd Pe­ter Rodrig­ues who power­ed a dev­ast­at­ing shot from in­side the area, on­ly to see his ef­fort go wide of the right up­right. And a few mo­ments la­ter in the ga­me, Chan­non him­self ham­mered the ball just a few in­ches over the cross­bar. The So­uth Coast­ers con­tin­ued to counter at­tack and Bob­by Stokes al­most net­ted wi­th a fierce long-ran­ge shot shortly af­ter­wards. As things ev­entually turned out in the end, South­ampton pro­duced the win­ning goal of the en­counter when for­mer Man­chester Uni­ted mid­fielder Jim Mc­Cal­liog sent a long ball to Stokes who­se op­por­tun­ist­ic strike flew pa­st Old Traf­ford shot stop­per Al­ex Step­ney and in­to the bot­tom right-hand cor­ner of the net af­ter 83 min­utes of ac­tion to make the Wemb­ley score­board read 1-0 in fa­vour of The Saints. South­ampton Te­am: Ian Turn­er, Pe­ter Rodrig­ues, Da­vid Peach, Nick Holmes, Mel Blyth, Jim Steele, Paul Gil­christ, Jim Mc­Cal­liog, Mick Chan­non, Pe­ter Os­good, Bob­by Stokes. Sub­sti­tute: Hugh Fish­er. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Al­ex Step­ney, Al­ex For­syth, Stew­art Hou­s­ton, Bri­an Green­hoff, Mar­tin Bu­chan, Lou Ma­cari, Ste­ve Cop­pell, Ger­ry Da­ly, Stu­art Pear­son, Sam­my Mc­Ilroy, Gor­don Hill. Sub­sti­tute: Da­vid McCreery.

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