66 min: Waddle drifts in from the right and curls a cross towards Thomas, bombing in from the other flank. Bennett, creator turned destroyer, flicks a header away from danger, out for a corner that leads to nowt.
65 min: Houchen was a Scunthorpe United player last season. According to Motty on the BBC, this time last year he was watching the final in a local working men’s club. And now, thanks to his work of art, the Coventry tails are up. Regis and Kilcline rise to compete for a deep right-wing cross, confusing each other and sending the ball harmlessly out of play for a goal kick. Spurs need to gather themselves and quickly.
64 min: Houchen flew through the air like a comic-book hero to meet that! I wonder if Clive Allen’s antics sparked something in his subconscious?! What acrobatics! And it was aesthetic perfection, the whole move a masterclass of timing. Houchen leaps over the hoardings, uncatchable, capering around with the giddy abandon of someone who knows something special has just happened, but he’s not quite able to process or contextualise it yet. He’ll have plenty of time to do so later, because he’s just scored a goal that will be remembered for a very long time indeed. It was such a thing of wonder, given time his name might come to define the spectacular diving header. If so, let the record state: Keith Houchen has just scored a Keith Houchen.
WHAT A GOAL! Coventry City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Houchen 63)
Ogrizovic sends a drop kick long. Regis rises above Mabbutt and flicks it on for Houchen, who spreads the ball right for Bennett. Houchen spins and makes a run into the box. Meanwhile Bennett takes three delicate touches to make just enough room to whip the ball past Thomas. His cross, bent with geometric grace around the full back, drops perfectly for Houchen, who meets it six yards out with a stunning diving header, planting the ball into the bottom corner at maximum velocity! What a bullet header! Colour this hyperbole, but that might well be the best goal ever scored in an FA Cup final!
62 min: The cameos just keep on coming. Kilcline, never the most silky of defenders, channels his inner Beckenbauer. Just outside his own area, he’s faced with Clive Allen and Hoddle, right up in his grille. There looks to be no way out, but he shovels a dainty flick over the pair, the ball dropping at the feet of McGrath, in space upfield. That’s a delicious touch of delicate skill from the big man. Hoddle will have enjoyed watching that. He’d have been proud of the pass himself.
61 min: It’s been a friendly affair – no need yet for the referee to wag a finger, less so brandish a card. That’s amply illustrated here, as Clive Allen tries to beat Peake with another dragback and spin, but this time Peake refuses to give ground. The tussle ends with Allen clambering all over Peake’s back, ending up horizontal in mid-air, posing in the Superman position as his opponent keeps hold of him with a smile. They spin round so everyone can get the joke before Peake plops him softly back down to earth. A couple of friendly pats are exchanged, and we’re on our way again. That’s a genuinely amusing, warm and sportsmanlike moment, in the middle of a very tense cup final. The crowd respond accordingly, breaking into a loud round of applause in celebration of some fine slapstick, a bravura comedic performance.
60 min: On the hour, and for the first time today, the match descends into a lull as the pace drops. Nobody will complain: it’s sunny, the big Wembley pitch is notoriously hard to cover for 90 minutes, and it’s not as though we haven’t had plenty of bang for our buck so far.
58 min: Downs sends a long free kick into the Spurs box. Houchen wins the first header, Kilcline the second. Clemence claims, but Coventry have been the bosses of Spurs in the air all afternoon and Spurs really need to get a handle on this.
57 min: A corner on the right leads to a corner on the left. Hoddle takes the latter. It’s way too deep, and easily headed clear by Kilcline. And suddenly Coventry are on the counter, first through Houchen, then with Gynn on the left. He’s got three team-mates in acres to his right, but doesn’t see them and eventually runs into Mabbutt. The match has now settled back into its wildly entertaining first-half pattern, a box-to-box hoot for the ages. Marvellous. Thank you one and all.
56 min: Such a lovely move by Spurs! Waddle feeds Hughton down the right. Hughton pulls a low cross back for Clive Allen, who spins, drags back and pirouettes down the channel away from Peake, sliding off to Billy Wright’s wrong fire. For a nanosecond, he’s one on one with Ogrizovic, on the right-hand corner of the six-yard box. But Downs nips in from behind to take the ball off his toe and send it out of play. Marvellous last-ditch defending. That would have been one of the great FA Cup final goals, and some way to bring up his personal half century. As it is, it’s just a corner.
55 min: Kilcline creams a simple long pass down the right and Gynn nearly zips free. As he enters the box, Gough slides in to limit the damage to a corner, from which Phillips lands a shot on Wembley’s rickety roof. That rush of blood to the head must have felt real good at the time.
54 min: Waddle sashays past Peake with great ease down the right. He’s so good to watch, despite that lumbering gait. Actually, it’s because of that lumbering gait. How can something so ostensibly ungainly be so beautiful? A conundrum for the ages. His cross isn’t all that, mind, easy meat for Ogrizovic with Clive Allen lurking.
53 min: … and as a result their fans are in the middle of a rousing chorus of Jimmy Hill’s bespoke tinkering of the Eton Boating Song. Wembley has been a cauldron on a rolling boil all day.
52 min: Bennett nearly skins Thomas down the right, but the full back wins out. However he only skelps his clearance straight back up the flank to Phillips, who clips a slide-rule pass down the channel and nearly releases Houchen. Mabbutt comes over to bash clear, but there were a few murmurs of concern from the Spurs support as their heroes struggled to get out of their final third. Coventry haven’t forced Clemence into action since the restart, but they’re beginning to ask a few questions.
51 min: Coventry are beginning to find their feet again. Gough and Mabbutt get in each other’s way and allow a basic pass through the middle by Downs to reach Regis, who instigates a move that ends with Bennett dinking a cross in from the right. Houchen gets a head on the ball, but can only send it high into the air with no direction, and Spurs clear. Mabbutt may or may not be on the scoresheet, but even so, it’s not been a banner day for the Tottenham centre-back pairing. They’ve looked uncomfortable from the get-go.
49 min: Gynn scampers down the right in the Stanley Matthews manner. He beats Thomas and finds Houchen at the near post with his cross, but the striker can’t control, six yards out. That’s much better from Coventry … although then, up the other end, they nearly concede a worldy, as Clive Allen cuts in from the right and aims for the top left. It’s not very far away at all, and I’m not convinced Ogrizovic was getting there had it been on target.
47 min: Coventry haven’t seen much second-half ball yet. Regis and Gynn try to combine down the right, but it doesn’t quite work out, and Regis’s frown is enough to transmit his opinion of the move.
46 min: Ardiles rolls a ball down the right for Hughton, who barges his way past Downs and makes for the box along the byline. He looks to have been tripped from behind by Downs, just before he enters the penalty area, but it’s no foul, and Ogrizovic claims. On second look, that was a good decision by the referee, there was little or no contact and Hughton merely tripped over his own feet. Not sure why he didn’t then have a word with Hodge, who slid in on Ogrizovic at full pace for a ball he was never going to get. Big Oggy is a placid fellow, and doesn’t make a big deal of it.
And we’re off again! The BBC are wavering over their award of Tottenham’s second to Mabbutt, having fallen hard for replays suggesting the ball pinged off Kilcline during the break. “I think we’ve given Gary Mabbutt that goal perhaps a little prematurely,” their commentator John Motson announces. “It would appear that it did go in off Brian Kilcline, so it may end up being credited as an own goal.” Let’s wait for the official line before worrying about that. Coventry get the ball rolling for the second half.
Half-time advertising break … featuring Withnail driving a Vauxhall Astra! Making time, presumably. Turns out he didn’t need that cigar commercial after all.
HALF TIME: Coventry City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
And so a wonderful half of to-and-fro attacking football comes to an end. As expected, the favourites Spurs are leading, but Coventry are giving them one hell of a game. They came from behind at half-time to beat Spurs at Highfield Road in December; can they repeat the trick on the biggest day in the club’s history? David Pleat’s fine side will be pleased enough, but they’ll know this is far from over.
45 min: Kilcline launches long. Mabbutt’s clearing header is useless. Regis intercepts on the edge of the D and makes a nuisance of himself, the ball breaking to Pickering who takes a touch to the left and, falling backwards a la Bennett, goes for goal. But he can’t get enough whip on the shot, allowing Gough to make an excellent sliding block. Clemence gathers.
44 min: Ardiles forces a corner off Downs. The same man swings one in from the right but it’s easily claimed by Ogrizovic.
43 min: Hoddle chips down the right for Waddle, who can’t quite get the better of McGrath on the edge of the box. Then Hughton has a probe, but he’s forced to turn tail as well under pressure from Downs. Both of the Tottenham goals have originated from this flank, and yet the Coventry left-back Downs has been one of the best players on the pitch. Funny old game, as one of Tottenham’s old strikers likes to point out.
42 min: Coventry kick off again, and soon lose possession. Spurs stroke it around in the continental fashion. Coventry have probably been the better side so far, yet look at the scoreline. That’s understandably taken a bit of puff out of the Sky Blue sail.
GOAL! Coventry City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Mabbutt 41)
Paul Allen scampers down the right. He’s flipped into the air by Pickering, and this is a chance for Hoddle to send a free kick into the Coventry area. He swishes an outswinger into the mixer. Ogrizovic comes to claim and gets nowhere near. Neither do Peake and McGrath, occupied by Gough. The ball drops to Kilcline and Mabbutt, both facing the empty net, eight yards out. Mabbutt sticks out a leg and diverts it home! Or did that come off the shin of Kilcline, attempting to nick it clear? Replays, shown from several angles, aren’t exactly conclusive. Let’s go with the BBC’s assessment. Mabbutt’s it is!
40 min: Phillips breathes a huge sigh of relief as nothing comes of the resulting corner. But Spurs are soon roaring back at Coventry, and …
39 min: Waddle teases Pickering out on the right wing, but Pickering does just enough to stop him scampering down the touchline. Waddle opts to check back, then sprays a low diagonal pass into the area from a deep position. There are no Spurs players anywhere near the ball, but Phillips takes a heavy touch in attempting to cushion it back to Ogrizovic, and clumsily sends the ball out for a corner on the left. A groan from the Coventry faithful. That’s extremely careless.
38 min: Spurs aren’t dealing with high balls very well this afternoon. Here they get themselves in another almighty pickle when Downs launches a long free kick into the box. Houchen wins the first header. Of course he does. Then Pickering, to his left, swivels, spins Hughton, and sends a bobbler into the arms of Clemence from ten yards. He should have given Clemence a real problem there. Spurs need to up their game at the back.
37 min: Hodge dribbles down the left and sends a shot-cum-cross towards the top corner. Ogrizovic is forced to fingertip over the bar with great uncertainty. A look of panicked relief washes over his face. Nothing comes of the resulting corner.
36 min: Waddle cuts in from the right, drops a shoulder, and sends the ball off towards Hanger Lane. “This might be a day of firsts,” suggests Simon McMahon. “We might not have the glamour of Wembley, or indeed Chas n Dave, but this week could be the greatest in the history of Dundee United. Like Coventry and the famous old trophy, we’re looking to claim our first ever Scottish Cup (currently 0-0 v St. Mirren at Hampden), and on Wednesday it’s the second leg of the UEFA Cup final v Gothenburg at Tannadice. Immortality beckons!” Good luck with that, Simon, our fingers are crossed for you.
35 min: So having said that … Waddle dribbles down the right and falls over beside the D, but he’s not getting the free kick he wanted. Clean challenges by both Peake and Pickering. Then the ball’s humped into the centre circle. Gough should deal with it, but lets Regis spin away from him far too easily. Regis eats up the turf. He’s got Bennett to his right, but opts instead to thread a delicious pass between the hastily backtracking Mabbutt and Hughton, setting Gynn free! Gynn enters the box and whistles a shot towards the bottom left. It’s a good effort, but not a great one, a little bit too close to the keeper. It allows Clemence to make a fine stop, and Mabbutt whacks clear.
34 min: Waddle has another crack from distance. It’s straight at Ogrizovic. Spurs are beginning to assert themselves for the first time in this final.
33 min: The carefree end-to-end nonsense continues apace. Phillips launches a long free kick into the Spurs box. Regis knocks down towards Bennett, in a perfect position to replicate his goal, but Hodge is alive this time and heads away acrobatically. Hoddle sets Spurs off on the counter. Waddle drops a shoulder out on the right and rasps a rising shot towards the near post from a tight angle. Ogrizovic refuses to be beaten like that, though he makes a meal of parrying and gathering, and nearly spills the ball out for a corner. Soon enough, Spurs are coming at Coventry again, Mabbutt channelling his inner Beckenbauer with a glorious run down the middle. He attempts a full-tilt one-two with Ardiles, but for once the Argentinian maestro’s radar is a little wonky, and a heavy return pass sails straight through to the keeper. Shame for Spurs: a huge gap at the heart of the Coventry defence there.
32 min: Waddle opens his legs and grooves down the middle of the park, before whipping a low and fierce shot straight at Ogrizovic. Fortunately for Coventry, the keeper has managed to screw his previously loose head back on tight, and this time deals with the situation without unnecessary drama or emotional tumult.
31 min: I’m really not sure how this is still only 1-1. This can’t end 1-1.
30 min: Gynn dribbles down the middle of the park, but not for the first time this afternoon, Ardiles assumes control with candy-divestment ease. Such a well-timed challenge. He rolls a pass up the centre for Hoddle, who spins and draws his man, before flicking the ball past him for Ardiles, who has kept running and is now in a lot of space. He’s got Paul Allen to his right, and a flick inside will send the midfielder clear on goal. Peake sticks out a boot, it’s all he can do. And he manages to deflect the ball away from Allen and back to Ogrizovic. What an interception! And that should be the end of that, but Coventry, attempting to play out from the back in the continental style, nearly concede in farcical circumstances! Ogrizovic, taking reception of a backpass, decides to go on a C64 International Soccer style dribble upfield! He eventually clanks a dreadful pass straight to Hoddle, who attempts to dispatch it into the unguarded net from 40 yards. Fortunately for the keeper, Peake has read the danger and is back covering. He blocks and taps the ball to the right, assuming his keeper will flop on it when he gets back to his box. But Ogrizovic somehow overruns it, and Peake’s lay off isn’t perfect either, and Clive Allen scampers away with the ball! The net’s still unguarded, but Allen is forced wide by Peake and lashes the ball into the side netting. Coventry dodged a bullet there. Had that resulted in a goal, it would without question be the stupidest ever conceded in an FA Cup final.
29 min: Spurs go straight back up the other end, Hodge skedaddling down the left and winning a corner. Hoddle wands it in, but Ogrizovic races off his line and claims with great certainty.
28 min: Gynn’s corner is headed behind by Gough. Pickering to take this next one from the left. He sends it in deep. Houchen wins a header at the far post, but can’t get any direction or power on it.
27 min: … Hoddle finds Gough, ten yards out. The defender powers a header goalwards, but it’s deflected into the sky by pop-single flautist Peake, and Ogrizovic plucks from the middle of a melee, under severe pressure from both Clive Allen and Hodge. Then the keeper sends Bennett gliding down the right with a quicksilver throw. Spurs are light at the back, and thankful that Thomas puts in a fine tackle to block Bennett, just as the winger dropped a shoulder with a view to scooting past and romping clear. Gynn picks up the loose ball and continues down the right himself, winning a corner for the Sky Blues. This is end-to-end football at its finest!
26 min: This is much better from Tottenham, who are beginning to regroup. Regis, at full pelt down the inside left, is stopped unceremoniously by a fine Ardiles tackle. Ardiles strides upfield and fizzes a pass down the right for Waddle, and suddenly Coventry are on the back foot. Waddle, Hoddle and Paul Allen combine to win a corner. From which …
24 min: Nothing much is coming off for Spurs up front. Waddle sends Hodge scampering down the left, but there’s only Clive Allen in the middle and Hodge is unable to find him with a speculative cross. Coventry will be much the happier team right now.
22 min: Ardiles takes a quick free kick in midfield and sends Waddle off on the right. Waddle shuttles the ball inside for Hodge, who looks for Clive Allen in the middle, but the flag goes up for offside. This is breathless. Both teams are piling forward, with little thought to hang about in midfield. And what’s this? Coventry have the ball in the net! Philips sends a long throw into the Spurs box from the right. Houchen flicks on, then with a deft brush of the eyebrow, Regis steers a gentle header towards the bottom left, past Clemence and in. That’s such a tidy finish! But the flag goes up, because Houchen had shoved Thomas in the back to win the first header. Nobody bothers complaining too much, but you’ve seen teams get away with those. It was a sly little shove, and far from obvious.
21 min: Downs fires a flat diagonal free kick towards Kilcline, who heads back across goal for Pickering. Shame that didn’t fall to either Regis or Houchen, because Pickering sends a very weak header straight at Clemence. That was a well-worked free kick and an extremely good chance.