Gripping Cup Clash That Is There To Be Relived
It was 12 months ago this weekend that Wolves famously won at Liverpool as the high spot of the Paul Lambert era.
Even more precisely, it is 41 years to this very day that Sammy Chung’s side set up a less spectacular giant-killing – but one made even more coincidental given the club’s latest Sky Bet Championship victims.
Ipswich v Wolves may not appear to have the ingredients for a major FA Cup shock, one way or the other, but it was a daunting assignment on January 29, 1977.
Bobby Robson’s team were frequent high-fliers at the time and would finish third in the top flight that season behind Liverpool and Manchester City.
Even more in the home side’s favour was the fact that Wolves had promotion from the Second Division as by far their bigger objective – not that that stopped them enjoying an alternative journey that kicked off with a home win over Rotherham.
The fourth-round visit to Portman Road, where they had also checked in during the 1975-76 staging of the tournament, drew a 33,000 crowd – more than double the one that saw Matt Doherty head the only goal two days ago.
And the 11 minutes of You Tube footage arising from coverage by Anglia TV remind us what a terrific tie it was on a clinging, churned-up surface that made the rain-induced stickiness of two days ago insignificant by comparison.
In many ways, the game was all about John Richards. He had endured a six-month injury absence before returning to the line-up and, thanks to a match-winning hat-trick at Orient in late November, embarking on a stunning run of 15 goals in 13 appearances.
He struck twice at Ipswich, first with a close-range finish on the turn after Alan Sunderland’s shot was saved by Paul Cooper. And that might well have been his second of the day as a left-foot chip in front of a huge, swaying and expectant mass of away fans had apparently been palmed down and gathered by Cooper behind the line.
With only a slender lead, Wolves then weathered huge pressure from a talented line-up containing George Burley, Mick Mills, Brian Talbot, John Wark, Paul Mariner, Trevor Whymark and 1978 Wembley match-winner Roger Osborne.
Gary Pierce and his defenders performed heroics at the same end at which Doherty struck in calmer circumstances, only for Mariner turn in the equaliser in a second half in which both sides had several chances.
Richards put a free header well wide from substitute Steve Kindon’s cross but seemed to have won a thrilling contest when he toe-poked past the advancing Cooper after his good Warrington mate had again set him up.
Commentator Gerry Harrison informed us there were less than three minutes left but that was just enough for Burley to advance from his right-back station and rifle a stoppage-time equaliser above and beyond Pierce from an acute angle. Check the disappointment on the faces of the keeper and John McAlle!
Not to worry. With a fifth-round home pairing against Chester providing a rich incentive for two clubs who were meeting in the competition for the third successive season (it was one win each prior to this), Wolves got the job done back at Molineux four nights later.
Richards – who else? – headed the only goal and so completed the outstanding feat of scoring in six consecutive FA Cup ties, three in 1976-77 and three the season before.
Wolves beat Chester, with Kenny Hibbitt this time on target, but went out by the same 1-0 scoreline at home to Leeds in the quarter-final.