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Friday, 22 February 2013

Classic League Cup Finals: Stoke City 2 Chelsea 1 1972

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This weekend sees League Two Bradford City and Premier League Swansea City locking horns in the final of the Capital One Cup. The Welsh side should be too strong for the Bantams, but Arsenal and Aston Villa have both fallen to Phil Parkinson's side this season and must not be underestimated.

There has been a history of shocks in this competition and Squarefootball's Steve Coulter has taken a look back at some of the biggest League Cup Finals down the years.

Here he goes back to 1972 when Stoke City picked up their first major trophy.

Stoke City Football club were formed in 1863. In a rich history some great players had turned out for The Potters. Legendary names Sir Stanley Matthews and Gordon Banks had plyed their trade in North Staffordshire. Despite this the Stoke City trophy cabinet had remained empty. In the early seventies Tony Waddington's talented side were intent on ending their silverware drought.

City twice came with a hair's breath of reaching the FA Cup Final. On both occasions Arsenal ended the dream in a semi-final replay.

In 1972 Stoke finally ended their Wembley hoodoo. The Potters overcame West Ham in a titanic semi-final. Stoke's famous victory set up a showdown with Chelsea. The Blues were firm favourites and were proven winners. Dave Sexton's side had lifted the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup in successive season.

With five minutes on the clock the underdogs made a dream start. Peter Dobing's long throw was flicked on by Denis Smith. With the Chelsea defence rooted to the spot Terry Conroy nipped in to score. A Peter Osgood goal brought Chelsea level just before half time. Their cause wasn't helped when full back Jackie Marsh lost a contact lens.
With 18 minutes remaining Stoke edged back in front. A Dobing cross field ball found Conroy on the left flank. The Irishman's centre was headed down by John Richie. Strike partner Jimmy Greenhoff latched on to the knock down and volleyed the ball goalwards. Peter Bonetti parried the shot, the rebound was gobbled up by George Eastham who rammed the ball home.

Stoke survived a late scare when Chris Garland intercepted a Mike Barnard back pass. Gordon Banks read the danger and saved the striker's close range effort.

Stoke City had done it at last.



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Colin Illingworth



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