Southampton 1-0 Manchester United
The FA Cup Final
01 May 1976
As expected in this David versus Goliath contest, United from the beginning played fast, clever football. Neat movements involving four, five and six players were carried out as the ball was manoeuvred from defence to attack. Southampton, on the other hand, possessing few skilled ball players, relied on long passes and clearances and on the resulting pressure imposed by Channon and Osgood.
After a shaky start, McCalliog kept up a series of 30 yard through passes to his two powerful colleagues, and though they were invariably out-numbered and although Osgood's workrate was generally below the standard of his teammates, the Saints strikers managed to keep their opponents at full stretch. This tactical contrast was one of the most intriguing features of the game.
United, as expected, began confidently. Coppell dribbled cleverly at speed down the right wing and hit a good cross shot; Turner failed to catch it cleanly and only pushed the ball a few yards in front of him where Pearson and macari reacted slowly right on the six-yard line. Then Hill, who had a good first half, made a perfect opening for daly but that usually alert United player shot feebly from just eight yards out.
Hill again broke clean through, but the ball was bouncing awkwardly and although he attempted what would have been a perfect lob as Turner dashed out, the Southampton keeper caught the ball brilliantly at two yards range and United were denied what might well have been the vital goal of the whole match.
That save inspired Southampton, and they began to have more of the play. Because manchester were delaying their passes, Saints were able to throw the United forwards off-side more and more and slowly the under-dogs began to function with increasing conviction.
Overall in those first forty-five minutes, Manchester had enjoyed most of the play territorially, with many more chances, but they had squandered them by poor finishing against determined opponents.
The second half began with a dangerous looking move orchestrated by Channon, but Buchan saved the situation for manchester whose final passes, however, kept going astray. Coppell and Peach had some rare tussles, with honours just about even; but on one occasion, the nippy little outside right dribbled past two defenders and passes to the unmarked Pearson.
Unfortunately for him, the centre arrived thigh high and in spite of an acrobatic turn and twist, Pearson's shot flashed wide of the goal. Holmes and Rodrigues joined the list of players who shot feebly when well placed; the shooting throughout the match, in fact, was innocuous and neither goalkeeper had to make the type of save he must have expected and feared.
United had terribly bad luck when McIlroy headed against the woodwork a well-placed corner by Coppell which Macari nodded backwards to the far post. Almost from the resulting clearance, Channon completed a good move by Southampton when he shot powerfully a yard high and wide of the Manchester net.
McCreery came on as substitute for Hill, but in the 83rd minute, Bobby Stokes, who had just banged the ball high over the bar, raced on to a gem of a pass by McCalliog and although he himself feared he might have been off-side, he placed his shot accurately into the extreme corner of the net- and Southampton had won the Cup.
Television playback showed that both the referee and linesman were correct in their judgement, and it was Stokes' anticipation and quickness off the mark that took him past Buchan and left him with only Stepney to beat. Southampton coolly played out the remaining seven minutes of the game.
So the unexpected had happened and 'the Saints went marching in' to receive their Cup and medals from the Queen. It had been a good game of football, played in a splendid spirit and without an unpleasant foul from start to finish.
Southampton: Turner, Rodrigues, Peach, Holmes, Blyth, Steele, Gilchrist, Channon, Osgood, McCalliog, Stokes (Fisher)
Goals: Stokes 83
Manchester United: Stepney, Forsyth, Houston, Daly, Greenhoff, Buchan, Coppell, McIlroy, Pearson, Macari, Hill (McCreery)
Referee: Clive Thomas