Date: Wednesday, 2nd February 1983.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
Cup Fourth Round Replay.
United 1 Arsenal 1 (a.e.t.)
United: Butterworth. Arsenal: Rix.
Leeds United: Lukic;
Aspin, E.Gray; Thomas,
Hart, Dickinson; Hird, Butterworth, Connor, F. Gray,
Graham. Unused Sub: Gavin.
Hollins, Sansom; Robson, O’Leary, Nicholas; Talbot, Sunderland
Referee: J. Hunting
Relegation in 1982 came as a big shock to United and their
followers, but after disposing of lowly Preston North End in the third round of
the FA Cup, United were given an early return to the big time. Arsenal at
Highbury was their reward and Leeds gave a solid team
performance. They took the lead after sixty-one minutes through an own goal by
Peter Nicholas. Then, unfortunately, they immediately conceded their advantage
to the Gunner’s experienced striker Alan Sunderland but held on to take
Arsenal’s star-spangled side back to Elland Road.
Part of the Lowfields
Road side of the ground was closed for the match
because of hurricane strength winds had ripped asbestos sheeting from the roof
of the stand. The wind and heavy rain made the going on the sanded Elland Road pitch extremely
heavy, making quality passing movements a rare commodity. United had the better
chances the longer the match went on with Welsh midfielder Gwyn
Thomas firing just wide after intercepting a Stewart Robson back-pass. The
young Welshman also had a twenty-yard shot cleared off the line as United began
to pick up the tempo.
On a heavy pitch both sides traded attack for attack, but
the defences held out without much difficulty and the game dragged on into
extra-time. With the tacky sanded surface sapping the players’ energy and the
strength from tired limbs, a second replay was looming as United built an
attack down the left in the final minute. It began eighty yards from the
Arsenal goal with Eddie Gray and Arthur Graham, who got striker Terry Connor
moving down the left. He did well to beat his marker, Stewart Robson, before
whipping a low cross into the penalty-box, where his young co-striker Aidan
Butterworth had just enough strength to stab the ball home in front of the Kop.
Butterworth, riddled with cramp, could hardly get back to the centre-circle as
Arsenal restarted the game.
The Gunners immediately won a free-kick thirty yards out and
with United still getting their defenders in place, the quick thinking Graham Rix bent a left-foot shot past the startled John Lukic to bring the game to a sensational finish, as victory
was snatched from under United’s noses in an
astonishing end to the game.
YEP reporter Don Warters said “Elland Road erupted when Butterworth’s shot went in,
despite a touch on the ball by Kenny Sansom, but tragedy struck United, and
goalkeeper John Lukic in particular, seconds later,
when Graham Rix took a thirty yard free-kick and sent
the ball skidding into the United net at the near post”.
Referee John Hunting barely had time to restart the game
before time ran out, and to add to United’s agony
Arsenal won the toss for the right to stage the second replay. At Highbury, the
Gunners triumphed 2-1, with young Terry Connor scoring for United, but it was
Arsenal who progressed to the fifth round.
Alternate Report courtesy of Mark Ledgard:
In an unbelievable final minute of extra time Leeds United
had one foot in the FA Cup Fifth Round only to see the chance slip away. In the
one hundred and nineteenth minute of a tense, tight and often tactically
dominated Fourth Round Replay at Elland
Road, Aidan Butterworth side footed Leeds
ahead. It looked all over for Arsenal but as the seconds ticked away and the
electric scoreboard showed that time was up the First Division side were
awarded a free-kick thirty yards out. Graham Rix took
it and speared a left-foot shot low into the near corner to stun Leeds
and most of the 24,410 crowd. Therefore the tie which appeared to have all the
makings of a long, long siege would have to go into a second replay at Highbury
the following Monday, Leeds having lost the toss for
choice of venues. But the next instalment would have to a long way to match the
drama of the last minute in this match. With players weary after giving their
all in clawing conditions the home crowd willed Leeds to
go forward one last time and in an eighty yard movement they swept into the
lead. It started with Eddie Gray, the Leeds Player-Manager, from the left-back
position, carried on by Arthur Graham, who released Terry Connor on the
left-hand side of Arsenal’s penalty area. He managed to hold off the challenge
of Stewart Robson and his short low cross found Aidan Butterworth at the far
post, where Leeds’ leading scorer joyfully nudged home his ninth goal of the
season. The Arsenal players sank to their knees. But within thirty seconds they
were running to the small band of London
supporters in celebration after Graham Rix had hit
back. Extra time had provided Terry Connor with one good shooting chance and
Brian Talbot an opening from close range, but all along it seemed as though the
two teams would not be separated in a tie filled with endeavour.
Eddie Gray had said that it would take a lot of patience to
fins a way to settle the match and so it proved. The action was much as it had
been in the 1-1 first meeting at Highbury the previous Saturday, though the
speed of the game was lifted a gear or so. This was surprising. It took a lot
of hard running to make a faster game on a pitch well sanded, after the snow
and rain had left it heavy. But both sides pushed hard looking for breaks which
two well drilled defences kept to a minimum. Arsenal, who lost Alan Sunderland
to an injury, found that Kenny Sansom and Graham Rix
were their two most incisive attackers. Leeds found
Kevin Hird, who had replaced the injured Gary Hamson, in fine form. But it was Gwyn
Thomas who went nearest to a break-through for the Second Division side during
normal time with opportunities both just before and just after the interval.
First he fastened on to a back pass from Stewart Robson, who had been under
pressure from Terry Connor, with Pat Jennings out of position Thomas elected to
cross from an acute angle rather than trying to find the empty net. There was
no one to meet the pass. But next time he went for goal and shot from twenty
yards, after Arsenal had failed to clear a corner, looked as though it was
going into the net, but Kenny Sansom made a timely stop on the goal line.
Malcolm Allison, who had brought his Middlesbrough players
to see what was in store for them at Ayresome Park in
the Fifth Round, could have been forgiven, even at that point, had he wondered
when this particular tie would be settled. One goal had been the most either
side had managed in previous FA Cup meetings. It looked as though one might be
enough to settle it this time. But though John Lukic
did well to tip a looping header from Brian Talbot over his crossbar and Paul
Hart went near with a header for Leeds, the tie was
forced into an almost inevitable spell of extra-time. Then
came that tremendous final minute.
“It was a death or glory situation,” said Terry Neill, the
Arsenal Manager, when describing the goal that saved his side in the last
seconds of the Fourth Round FA Cup tie replay at Elland Road. Neill said of the
late free-kick which produced Arsenal’s equaliser, “Rix
put the ball down, and I think he made up his mind to try something. It was a
death or glory situation. The ball bounced just before the goalkeeper, but full
marks to Rix.” The Leeds Manager Eddie Gray, said that his players were disappointed, chiefly
because they had scored at the death and then given it away. “It was the same
sort of game as at Highbury, last Saturday, but we will be going back there and
sticking at it. I was very pleased with the way out team stuck at it tonight.
Arsenal are a very good side and have a great belief
in themselves and our players did well to match them.” A second replay would
then give Leeds the chance to introduce John Sheridan,
who had consequently completed his two-match suspension. There was also the
chance that the Leeds Captain Kenny Burns would recover from the hamstring
strain, which had prevented him facing Arsenal so far.
Aidan Butterworth puts Leeds ahead in the last minute
match action photos below are Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
Leeds United 1982-83:
Row: Gary Hamson, Martin
Dickinson, Neil Aspin, Frank Gray, Gwyn Thomas, Peter Barnes.
Row: Peter Gunby (Coach),
Keith Mincher (Coach), Aidan Butterworth, Kevin Hird,
Paul Hart, John Lukic,
David Seaman, Frank Worthington, Kenny Burns, Barry Murphy (Coach),
Row: Brian Flynn, Trevor Cherry, Eddie Gray
(Assistant Manager), Terry Connor, Arthur Graham.
Back Row: Tony Woodcock, Peter Nicholas, John
Hawley, Chris Whyte, Pat Jennings,
Wood, David O’Leary, Brian Talbot, Stewart Robson, Graham Rix.
Front Row: Alan Sunderland, John Devine,
Raphael Meade, Brian McDermott, Lee Chapman,
John Hollins, Paul Vaesson, Kenny Samson, Paul Davis.
Aidan Butterworth scored for Leeds
Rix got Arsenal’s equalizer Kenny
Sansom got a touch to the Leeds goal