BY STEVE MITCHELL
ALLISON’S MANCHESTER CITY ARE SUNK BY CHELSEA:
The interminable January weather continues to sweep across the UK, with only four First Division fixtures beating the big freeze this afternoon.
One of those that did was the clash at Maine Road between Manchester City and Chelsea, and the treacherous playing surface only added to the drama as the teams served up a five-goal thriller.
The ground was hosting its third game in five days, after City had been held by Third Division Rotherham United on Monday in the FA Cup and non-league Altrincham had used the venue for their cup replay against Spurs 24 hours later.
It’s been a hectic week for Malcolm Allison’s side, who needed a replay at Millmoor on Wednesday to eliminate Rotherham from the competition. The home side were also without skipper Dave Watson this afternoon; Paul Power taking over the captain’s armband.
Chelsea arrived at Maine Road off the back of an FA Cup defeat across the city at Old Trafford on Monday, a game which saw striker Peter Osgood playing as a centre-half. He was back up front for Danny Blanchflower’s men this afternoon. England midfielder Duncan McKenzie had yet to appear in a winning Chelsea side since moving from Everton in the summer; he would finally get his win bonus this afternoon.
New City Head-Coach Allison was looking for his first league win after last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Leeds United and his team took the early initiative against a side low on confidence themselves.
It was no surprise then, when they took the lead thanks to a goal from stand-in skipper Power. Ron Harris, playing in midfield for Chelsea, failed to clear his lines and when the ball fell to Asa Hartford, he passed to Power whose shot gave Chelsea keeper Peter Bonetti no chance.
The hosts weren’t ahead for long however, when Tommy Booth was harshly punished for a foul on Osgood. Up stepped McKenzie whose relatively weak free-kick somehow squirmed under the body of Joe Corrigan in the City goal.
The hosts were nearly back in front immediately, when a flowing move ended with winger Peter Barnes firing in a shot which Bonetti managed to gather at the second attempt.
Despite the conditions, the two sides were serving up entertaining fayre and the visitors almost took the lead when striker Tommy Langley found himself one on one with Corrigan; the big England custodian coming out on top in the battle of wits.
Back came City and Gary Owen was the next to try his luck, but his shot deflected off Brian Kidd before going agonisingly wide with Bonetti stranded. The home side were then awarded an indirect free-kick in the Chelsea penalty area when big defender Micky Droy was judged to have obstructed Barnes; the subsequent kick however, was easily dealt with by Chelsea.Embed from Getty Images
Allison was then forced to make a switch, when defender Tommy Booth was injured. He made a tactical change at the same time, bringing on striker Ron Futcher and it paid almost immediate dividends when the big man, who had already bagged a hat-trick in the reverse fixture back in September, put City back in front.
Owen and Mick Channon then combined to almost put the hosts further in front as we headed towards the break, but Owen’s toe-poke just went wide.
In Blanchflower’s six matches in charge, Chelsea had now conceded 17 goals and as the second-half got underway, no-one could have predicted what was going to happen as the pitch started cutting up under foot.
Shortly after the interval, Channon found himself clear on goal, but it was Bonetti’s turn to win the mind-games this time as he foiled the England man. Owen then had an effort cleared off the line by Steve Wicks, who could well be playing his last game for the West London club, as a move to Derby County gets closer.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea sensed they could salvage something and when they were awarded a corner, which was swung in by Clive Walker, Wicks headed towards goal and the ball was turned into the net by Osgood.
Just a minute later, Chelsea went ahead for the first time when a City corner landed at the feet of Owen; the midfielder lost his footing and Langley robbed the ball, sending long range pass up to Walker who found himself in the clear with the home defence split apart. As Corrigan advanced out of his goal, the Chelsea frontman coolly slotted home to give the visitors both points.
IPSWICH CONTINUE TO CLIMB UP THE TABLE, THANKS TO A HOME WIN OVER WOLVES:
In complete contrast to Manchester, conditions at Portman Road were conducive to free-flowing football, as Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town side continue their ascent up the First Division table.Embed from Getty Images
Two goals from Scotland international John Wark helped the home team on their way; the first coming after a lovely floated cross from Arnold Muhren was headed into his path by a combination of the Wolves defence and Paul Mariner; the second from the penalty spot, after Eric Gates had been brought down by Derek Parkin.
In between these strikes, Mariner himself was on target for the FA Cup holders, with big defender George Berry grabbing a consolation for the visitors.
WEEK 26 ROUND-UP:
Leeds United took advantage of the postponements to move up to fifth in the table, following an away win against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Paul Hart and Ray Hankin were on target for the visitors, who are making a charge for the European places under boss Jimmy Adamson. Young England midfielder Glenn Hoddle got the home side’s reply.
The only other top-flight match to take place today was at Loftus Road, as Queens Park Rangers and Middlesbrough played out a 1-1 draw. Paul Goddard got the home side’s goal, David Hodgson replying for Boro.
FIRST DIVISION RESULTS – SATURDAY JANUARY 13:
Ipswich Town 3-1 Wolves (Wark 2, 1 pen, Mariner; Berry)
Manchester City 2-3 Chelsea (Power, Futcher R; McKenzie, Osgood, Walker)
Q.P.R 1-1 Middlesbrough (Goddard, Hodgson)
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Leeds United (Hoddle; Hart, Hankin)
Birmingham City v Norwich City
Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal
Coventry City v Liverpool
Everton v Aston Villa
Nottingham Forest v Manchester United
Southampton v Bristol City
W.B.A v Derby County
League Division One table after close of play on 20 January 1979
|1||West Bromwich Albion||22||14||6||2||47||20||27||34|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||4||8||10||19||31||-12||16|
UPCOMING FIXTURES – SATURDAY JANUARY 27:
Birmingham City v Q.P.R
Bolton Wanderers v Everton
Middlesbrough v Derby County
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 3:
Bristol City v Ipswich Town
Chelsea v Birmingham City
Leeds v Coventry City
Liverpool v W.B.A
Manchester United v Arsenal
Middlesbrough v Nottingham Forest
Norwich City v Bolton Wanderers
Southampton v Derby County
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
Wolves v Everton
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundlerEmbed from Getty Images
*This week saw the sad passing of former England striker Cyrille Regis at the age of just 59. His untimely death has been well documented in the press this week, and tributes from the world of football continue to pour in. Everyone at The Football Pink would like to send their deepest sympathies to Cyrille’s family and friends. He will be sadly missed.