since 1878

Arsenal (0) 0 - 1 (0) Ipswich Town

FA Cup Final (at Wembley) 1977-78

Saturday, May 6, 1978

Referee: D R G Nippard (Bournemouth)

Manager: Unknown

Wembley Stadium 15:00

Attendance: 100000

Manager: Bobby Robson

Match Number: 1670

Goals

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 Roger Osborne (77)

Substitutions

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BradyRix (65)

Cards

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Teams

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Jennings

Rice

Nelson

Price

OLeary

Young

Brady

Sunderland

MacDonald

Stapleton

Hudson

Substitutes

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Rix

Match Report

Arsenal 0 Ipswich Town 1

At long last yesterday Ipswich finally shook off the bad luck which has dogged them for six years and denied them a major trophy their steady progress under Bobby Robson has merited.

Against all the odds, the patched up and unfancied Suffolk side won the FA Cup for the first time in their history on their debut at Wembley with a late goal by Roger Osborne, a local lad and one of many heroes.

Until Osborne finally put the ball past Jennings, however, there was an uncomfortable feeling that whoever or whatever it is that frowns upon Ipswich's endeavors would force them to remain empty-handed once more.

Justice certainly seemed to have taken a holiday when Mariner hit the bar in the first half and Wark twice made Jennings' right hand post shudder with ferocious shots as the Ipswich dominance grew after the interval.

Thus Arsenal, the hot favourites, can consider themselves extremely fortunate that the scoreline did not reflect accurately the extent to which they were mastered in every quarter of the field.

Ipswich's triumph was built on a rock solid defence, a populous and purposeful midfield and a degree and variety of skill in attack that Arsenal, on paper the more gifted team individually, could rarely match.

Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise of this, the 50th Wembley final, was the contribution of Geddis, who, at 20, displayed the sort of self-belief of which many an older player would have been proud. His was an astonishingly mature performance.

Playing here only because Whymark had been unable to recapture full fitness following knee trouble, Geddis quickly emerged as the outstanding figure of a thoroughly entertaining , if little one-sided, match.

Lying deep on the right and coming forward incisively, he, in conjunction with Woods and Mariner, often caused close to panic in the Arsenal defence.

Even the normally unflappable Jennings was reduced to undignified scrambles on and off his line, and Brady's crude first half body check on Geddis, as he showed his willingness to take opponents on, was the clearest possible indication of Arsenal's desperation.

It was both predictable and fitting, therefore, that Geddis made the opening for the goal that will transform Ipswich into something considerably livelier than a sleepy East Anglian town for days to come.

Ipswich dominated the first half almost totally. Once the threat represented by the deft touches of Brady and Hudson in midfield had been bought under control by Ipswich's greater industry and more positive work in that vital area, most of the traffic flow was in Jenning's direction.

O'Leary hooked the ball a foot or two wide following a short corner while Brady and Hudson were in command, but Ipswich answered immediately with a header pass by Woods which Mariner swept narrowly beyond the far post.

Of the game's handful of potentially decisive influences, Woods was the first to impose his confidence and trickery upon the play. Roving intelligently and dangerously across the front line, the left-winger tormented the Arsenal defence with his clever ball control and ability to do the unexpected.

Woods was over on the right for instance, when Young lost possession on the halfway line, and the Ipswich forward broke quickly down the touchline. His low centre was measured perfectly, but Osborne missed it and Mariner prodded the ball against the bar.

Stapleton did volley wide on the turn, and Ipswich needed a superb blocking tackle by Mills, one of several by their inspiring captain and the indestructible Hunter and Beattie, to prevent MacDonald turning his afternoon into something more rewarding than another of the nightmares he seems destined to suffer at Wembley.

Yet at the other end, Jenning's dive barely kept out a 30-yard drive by Geddis, and the Arsenal goalkeeper was at full stretch again to turn over the bar a thundering Beattie header from Wood's corner.

It seemed inconceivable that Arsenal would allow themselves to be overrun to the same extent after the interval, but the second half was only seven minutes old when Mariner took the ball off Young, an unhappy, and ungainly figure on the day, and laid the ball square for Walk.

He thumped his shot crisply enough, but the ball flew straight back off the post and Mariner steered the rebound wide as he rushed too hastily to make the most of the chance.

Mariner held his head in his hands then, and so did Wark in the 72nd minute as he watched his hot from Woods's pass come back off that same infuriating post, with Jennings well beaten.

By then, Arsenal had been forced to replace Brady, who had limped since the first half, with Rix. But when Jennings made a superb save to keep out Burley's perfectly placed header, it began to look suspiciously as though Ipswich, for all their superiority, would never score.

Their hunger for the trophy remained greater than Arsenal's though, and a sudden break by Geddis down the right 12 minutes from the end was to reward them for their persistence and infinitely more effective teamwork.

Having gone outside Hudson and Nelson, Geddis drove the ball low into the goalmouth. Young could only block the thrust, and Osborne snapped the rebound into the net before his exhaustion and emotion forced him to give way to Lambert and before Ipswich began the rejoicing to which they were fully entitled.

Colin Malam (Daily Telegraph)

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