Manchester City v Bournemouth isn’t a fixture that is oozing in history. In fact, the two teams met for the first time at Maine Road in February 1988 and have only seen eight further league and one League Cup meetings since then.
The blues have won all but one of their home matches, a record that is matched for the away fixture too, and, for our Match from the Past, it would be easy to focus on any of those wins.
However, for this match, we’re going to take you back to 1989 and a bizarre match that saw the Cherries pick up their only point against City in Manchester and delay the blues’ promotion to the First Division for another week.
6th May 1989
The 1988/89 season saw City aiming for promotion back to the First Division. After a disappointing campaign the previous season, City had sold star striker Paul Stewart to Spurs for £1.7m and invested the money wisely to build a team capable of challenging for one of the two automatic promotion places.
City had been on a good run of one defeat in 12 matches before facing title contenders Chelsea at Maine Road. A 3-2 victory for the visitors saw the West London side take top spot, a position they wouldn’t relinquish again.
However, the blues had built up a good enough advantage over the chasing pack that should have seen them safely over the finish line, long before the final day of the season. City won three of their following five matches and a 2-1 home win over Swindon Town left them 11 points clear of third-placed Blackburn Rovers.
Fifth-placed Crystal Palace had three games in hand, but, even if they won them all, they’d still be six points behind the blues. Then, the nerves set in and Typical City arrived. A 4-0 battering at Blackburn was followed by a crazy defeat at home to Barnsley which opened the door for Palace. The Eagles were still six points behind, but had two games in hand and were also making up the goal difference.
A 4-2 win at Oxford that came after City were 2-0 down, and a home draw with Palace gave City the advantage, but Palace still had a game in hand, and when Bournemouth arrived at Maine Road, having lost 13 of their 22 away matches, the blues were looking at add a final home win of the season to stave off the challenge from Palace. In fact, if City won and Palace failed to win at Leicester, City were promoted.
What Happened in the Match
For 45 minutes, City were up. Paul Moulden gave them the lead after just two minutes to send a packed Maine Road wild in anticipation. Trevor Morley doubled the lead six minutes before half-time and when Andy Hinchcliffe’s free-kick hit the bar, Moulden was on hand to tap home the rebound and send City in 3-0 at the break.
If that wasn’t good enough, Leicester were leading Crystal Palace 1-0 at Filbert Street and the faithful spent the next 15 minutes planning trips to Anfield, Highbury, White Hart Lane and, of course, Old Trafford.
What followed next was the very epitome of Typical City that destroyed every single dream that popped up at half-time and left City’s promotion hopes dangling on the brink of failure.
Peter Shearer and Matthew Holmes both scored for the visitors in the second half and City, instead of going forward to put the game to bed, sat back and allowed Bournemouth to come at them.
In the final minutes of the match, ex-England star Luther Blissett got clear, only to be bundled off the ball by Hinchcliffe in the area. The faithful couldn’t watch as Blissett fired the ball into the roof of the goal to make it 3-3. news had already filtered through to the crowd that Palace had overturned their deficit and now led 2-1 at Leicester. Thankfully, the Foxes levelled late on to leave blues fans with the belief that they would still be promoted.
What Happened Next?
Palace won their game in hand at home to Stoke and were just three points behind City. If the blues lost their final match of the season at Bradford and Palace won by four clear goals, Palace would go up instead of City.
Of course, City tried to make that possible by going a goal down at Valley Parade and, with Palace winning 4-0, the blues were heading for the play-offs. A goal just moments from time by Morley gave the blues the point they needed and City made it to the First Division by the skin of their teeth.