Manchester City take one Bournemouth in only their seventh ever meeting in Manchester. The blues have won five and drawn one of the previous six matches, but the solitary Second Division 3-3 draw is the focus of today’s match from the past.
6th May 1989. The blues were second in the league behind Chelsea, who had already been crowned champions. The blues final home game of the season saw Bournemouth visit Maine Road, and victory for City, coupled with a draw or defeat for Crystal Palace, would see the blues promoted. City and Bournemouth had only met three times previously, with City winning all three without conceding a goal, and the odds were that by the end of the match, the blues should be celebrating promotion. Maine Road was packed, and the area normally reserved for standing away fans had been opened for blues fans to use instead.
And it started so well too. Just two minutes into the match, the blues were ahead. Andy Hinchcliffe’s long ball forward was headed away by a Bournemouth defender but straight into the path of goal poacher Paul Moulden, who was never going to miss from 12 yards. City one goal to the good, and looking a great bet for a return to top flight football. It would also get better. Andy Hinchcliffe again with the ball forward that found Trevor Morley, and the striker turned the defender brilliantly, before curling a shot beyond the keeper to make it 2-0 with six minutes of the first half remaining.
And if that wasn’t good enough, the blues would seemingly make the game safe on the stroke of half time, and again it was the City left back that was involved. City won a free kick just outside the penalty area. Neil McNab and Ian Brightwell combined to set up Hinchcliffe, whose free kick bobbled along the ground, before bouncing in front of the keeper, who diverted it onto the bar. As the ball came down, it was Moulden who was on hand to tap home and make it 3-0. With Palace failing to beat Leicester at the break, City were just 45 minutes away from promotion.
But if you don’t know by now, City have a habit of doing things the hard way. All they had to do was hold onto the lead for half a match. Do that, and they would be back amongst the big boys and the fans could relax at Bradford a week later as the season ended. But no, that would be far too easy and not the City way.
A bizarre fifteen minute spell in the second half saw the blues concede two goals from corners. Peter Shearer heading home, then Matthew Holmes struck from the edge of the area to give the Cherries hope and ensure the edges of the blue seats in the stands were well used again.
90 minutes passed and the blues led 3-2, but there was no sign of the referee’s whistle. After five minutes of injury time, Andy Hinchclife, the man who could have claimed a hat-trick of assists in the first half, became the villain as he bundled Luther Blissett over in the penalty area. The defender was furious and the supporters shell-shocked as the referee pointed to the spot. They knew, as the players did, the Palace were leading 2-1 at Leicester. If Blissett were to score the penalty, it would be a hammer blow on City’s charge towards the First Division. It was down to reserve goalkeeper Paul Cooper, playing in place of the injured Andy Dibble, to come to City’s rescue.
Blissett hammered the ball high to Cooper’s right as the keeper went left and Bournemouth fans celebrated a most unbelievable comeback. 3-0 became 3-3 and as the final whistle went, the fans filtered out of Maine Road, stunned by what they had just seen and desperately tried to find news of Palace’s match in the Midlands. News came through that Leicester had scored a last minute equaliser and the match would go down to the final game of the season.
Once again, Manchester City were putting their fans through the mill.
Final Score: Manchester City 3-3 Bournemouth
And for you guys who weren’t there on the day and didn’t have to endure this, here it is, so you’ll now understand what I went through!!