Throwback Thursday: The Manchester Derby (March 28th, 1970)

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The Manchester Derby used to be a fairly contained local rivalry, nowhere near the scale of, say, the Merseyside Derby in terms of national interest. And for a large chunk of the Premier League era it wasn’t even contested, as Man City were wallowing in League Two. Nowadays City has become one of the biggest clubs in Europe and poses a proper challenge for their crimson-clad neighbors. Nonetheless, there is history and tension between the two Manchester clubs that transcends Sky Sports and oil money.

This week we revisit one notable meeting of the Manchester Derby— Old Trafford, March 28th, 1970.

Both teams went into the game with little rest and chips on their shoulders. United had been knocked out of the FA Cup two days before by Leeds, while City had been embarrassed at home just the previous day by Derby County in First Division action. As if the this fixture weren’t enough motivation, both teams needed a good result to clear the decks and stay strong for the final stretch of the season.

In terms of the scoreline the fixture was settled in the first half. City’s center forward Francis Lee picked the pocket of a United defender and found himself alone on goal. Before he could get his shot off he was brought down inside the 18, earning a penalty. Lee converted- barely, it hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced just over the line- and gave the Sky Blues the lead. Later in the half, United legend George Best would launch an attack that culminated with the Red Devils’ #10 Brian Kidd with the ball at his feet not three yards from goal and no one in his way. His tap in brought the home side level.

But, alas, it was not United’s day. Mike Doyle ran on to collect a chipped pass behind United’s backline, won the fight for possession, and got himself alone in the box for a clean finish. City managed to fend off United through the second half and that was that.

City have done well against United in the Derby in recent seasons. Will the pattern repeat? Find out on Sunday morning when the two English giants meet at Old Trafford once again. Kickoff is at 10am EST on NBC Sports Network.