x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Final day drama a regular fixture for Manchester City

The club has a penchant for nail-biting finales, although not all end with the team's fans going home happy, writes Nick March.

Manchester City were relegated on the final day of the 1995/96 season after drawing 2-2 with Liverpool. The players believed for most of the match a point would keep them up. Brandon Malone / Action Images
Manchester City were relegated on the final day of the 1995/96 season after drawing 2-2 with Liverpool. The players believed for most of the match a point would keep them up. Brandon Malone / Action Images

If recent history is any guide, then Manchester City have only a one in three chance of beating Queens Park Rangers this afternoon. In nine final day matches since the side regained Premier League status in 2002, City have won three, lost four and drawn two of their closing encounters.

However, their fortunes have markedly improved since 2008 and the side have won twice and drawn once in the past three seasons following Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's purchase of the club.

Nevertheless, the past is littered with failure (including an eye-watering 8-1 final day defeat at Middlesbrough only four years ago), and those fans of a particularly nervous disposition may want to avert their eyes from this collection of end of season horrors.

May 14, 1983 - Manchester City 0 Luton Town 1

The result that sends shivers down the spines of City fans of a certain age. The Blues only needed a home draw against fellow strugglers Luton to secure their top-flight status for another season. Meanwhile, the Hatters needed a win to stay up.

Goalless with four minutes to left play, Raddy Antic's shot somehow squeaked past a clutch of defenders to break City hearts and inspire David Pleat, the Luton manager, to bop a beige-suited dance of delight across the hallowed Maine Road turf.

May 5, 1996 - Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2

Alan Ball replaced Brian Horton as the manager in the summer of 1995 and promptly took the side on a run of eight defeats in their opening nine games before a late season revival left the club needing a result against Liverpool to stay up.

The home side went two down in the first half, before Uwe Rosler and Kit Symons levelled matters. City then started playing for time, wrongly assuming that a draw would be enough to keep the club in the Premier League. With results going against them elsewhere, the side were relegated on goal difference and fell out of the top flight for the third time in 13 years.

April 21, 2002 - Manchester City 3 Portsmouth 1

With promotion back to the Premier League already secured, free-scoring City's final game of the 2001/02 campaign was all about chasing records: a win would guarantee a record points haul (99), three goals would tie the club's 1926/27 total of 108 and a goal from Stuart Pearce in his final competitive game would give him a tally of 100 career strikes. Four minutes into injury time and with City 3-1 up, the side were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Pearce, only to send his spot-kick over the bar and high into the packed Platt Lane stand.

May 11, 2003 - Manchester City 0 Southampton 1

City rounded off a decent first season back in the Premier League with a home game against FA Cup finalists Southampton. The match would also mark the club's final competitive fixture at Maine Road and featured a pre-match parade of former City greats and post-match live performances by Doves and Badly Drawn Boy.

But the home side barely mustered a shot on goal in the entire game and Michael Svensson's 34th-minute goal ensured City ended 80 years at their famous old ground with a whimper.

May 15, 2005 - Manchester City 1 Middlesbrough 1

Kevin Keegan's departure from the club in March 2005 brought Stuart Pearce to the helm as caretaker manager for the remaining nine matches of the season.

Pearce engineered a late revival and going into their final fixture, the side knew a win would be enough to guarantee European qualification. City fell behind to a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink first-half strike, but levelled early in the second-half courtesy of Kiki Musampa and were awarded an injury-time penalty that Robbie Fowler duly squandered.

Boro qualified for Europe instead and would progress all the way to the 2006 Uefa Cup final.

May 13, 1989 - Bradford City 1 Manchester City 1

After fluffing several attempts to clinch promotion, including drawing at home against Bournemouth after being 3-0 up at half time, City's hopes hinged on a final day trip to Valley Parade where a draw would guarantee a top-two finish.

The side fell a goal behind to a 24th minute Mark Ellis strike and would spend much of the rest of the game creating chance after chance before Trevor Morley latched on to a David White cross four minutes from time to finally secure promotion.

But one suspects a draw will not be enough for City today.


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