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Classic match report - Wolves 2 Leeds 1, 1972

Wolverhampton | Sport | Published:

In the first of a series of new Wolves features, every Monday we're bringing you the full match report from a classic Wanderers encounter.

We start with a memorable night at Molineux in 1972 when Wolves played a decisive role in one of the most exciting title races ever seen in English football.

Don Revie's all-conquering Leeds United needed just a point to take the title ahead of Brian Clough's Derby County.

Leeds had won the FA Cup just two days earlier, beating Arsenal 1-0, and in an incredibly tight title race the top four were separated by just one point.

Uefa Cup finalists Wolves, in 10th place in the league, were keen to spoil the party and with the game played on a Monday night (and with Derby's season having already finished) the Molineux atmosphere was at its boisterous best.

The acrimonious game would live long in the memory, not least for unfounded accusations of bribery against Leeds players and some controversial refereeing decisions.

Monday May 8, 1972

Wolves with the killer punch

Wolves 2-1 Leeds, By Phil Morgan

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Just as some of us thought they might, Wolves rose to the occasion last night and, in denying Leeds United the league and cup double, became not only the best team in Wolverhampton but the most popular team in Derby, where the league title will now rest.

And what a finish the Wolves provided for the 53,379 crowd – the biggest since Manchester United attracted 53,940 on the last day of 1967 – as they methodically wore down the battle-weary Leeds team.

Yet I wonder if there was anybody in that huge, tense crowd who would have found it in his heart to cavil if Leeds had saved the point they needed to take the league title.

I imagine not, because you could not fail to admire the spirited late rally led by never-say-die Billy Bremner and supported by big Jack Charlton, looking for a 37th birthday gift goal which they so nearly organised almost in the last minute.

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Nor, for that matter, could anybody fail to be impressed by the Wolves' tremendous upsurge once they had taken the lead just before three minutes before half time.

This was what manager Bill McGarry had meant when he said before the game he felt Wolves were capable of winning.

And it was what the Leeds boss, Don Revie, had in mind when, disappointed though he was, went out of his way to pay a high tribute to goalkeeper Phil Parkes.

That was the extent of Wolves' overall team work, which lifted them well above the role of underdogs, to which they seemed to have been automatically relegated after Leeds' Wembley success.

Handling was so blatant

There seem to have been two turning points in the game.

The first came when referee John Gow turned down an appeal for a penalty after a blatant case of "hands" by Bernard Shaw in the 23rd minute and the second when Frank Munro closed in near the far post for a right wing corner and slipped the ball past Paul Reaney for the vital first goal.

The second goal came in the 67th minute from Derek Dougan, who took a pass from John Richards and calmly slid the ball past the advancing Harvey for his 24th goal of the season.

At this moment the game seemed to explode for the retaliatory Leeds assault in the next minute had the irrepressible Bremner slamming a pass from Paul Madeley into the roof of Wolves' net to keep alive his hopes of the double.

But that was not to be although, in the last few minutes Leeds, so weary by now, pressed hard enough to get a late corner, for which Terry Yorath was on target with a header until Gerry Taylor bobbed up to head over the bar.

There was some sympathy for Leeds, for whom Allan Clarke, the Wembley match winner, came within inches of saving something with a shot on the turn which brought a great save from Parkes.

That was when Clarke was hobbling with his left thigh heavily bandaged and he left the pitch in favour of Yorath as soon as Wolves got their second goal.

At the same time we had to hand it to Wolves.

John Richards was unlucky not to be on the scoring list, especially when he netted from a pass by Dougan which a linesman decided, unjustly I felt, left him offside.

He also brought a couple of good saves from Harvey just as Clarke and Bremner did from Parkes.

There were also some misses, but it was that sort of occasion because so many people were a little on edge.

Perhaps it was this that led to the five bookings, all in the second half – McCalliog, following an incident in which Clarke fell to the ground, Bernard Shaw after a foul on Peter Lorimer, Clarke apparently for dissent, Gerry Taylor for a foul on Reaney and Norman Hunter for a foul on Dougan.

WOLVES: Parkes, Shaw, Taylor, Hegan, Munro, McAlle, McCalliog, Hibbitt, Richards, Dougan, Wagstaffe. Sub: Bailey.

LEEDS: Harvey, Reaney, Madeley, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke (sub, Yorath, 67), Bates, Giles, Gray.

Attendance: 53,379

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