Date: Wednesday, 15th May 1968.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.

Competition: Inter-Cities Fairs Semi-Final, Second Leg.

Score: Leeds United 1 Dundee 1.

Scorers: Leeds United: E. Gray. Dundee: Nil.

Attendance: 23,830.

Teams:

Leeds United: Sprake; Reaney, Cooper; Bremner, Madeley, Hunter; Greenhoff, Lorimer, Jones, Giles, E. Gray.

Dundee: Donaldson; Selway, Houston; Murray, Easton, Stewart; Campbell, J. McLean, S. Wilson, G. McLean, Scott (Stuart).

Referee: Willem Scalks (Holland).

 

United were appearing in their third consecutive Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Semi Final and it was only a three quarter sized Elland Road that greeted the two teams as work had already commenced on the roofing of the Kop or Geldard End. United were about to play their sixty-fourth game of an incredible season, but the winners knew they would not have to play the final until August as UEFA had postponed its holding until that time due to the fixture backlog.

 

Jack Charlton was injured and so Paul Madeley dropped back to take his place at the heart of the defence, but United were strengthened by the return of their first choice goalkeeper, Gary Sprake, and centre forward, Mick Jones.

 

Rarely can a game of such importance have been played in such an eerie atmosphere. Talks had already been held with Sheffield Wednesday about the use of Hillsborough if United got to the Final and had to play the game before the Kops revamp had been completed. Fortunately for United the Management Committee agreed to hold the Final over to the start of the following season and so there was now a little matter of getting past Dundee to create that eventuality. Eventually the clubs agreed the Semi-Final Second Leg should go ahead on 15th May 1968 even though the Kop was shut due to building work. The state of the ground and the poor turnout made for an odd atmosphere and seemed to affect Unitedís first half performance as Dundee dominated, surprising United with the quality of their approach work. The Scots made the most of a strong wind at their backs and Gary Sprake did well to save a deflected free-kick from George McLean, who also put a good chance over the bar. Terry Cooper blocked a Billy Campbell shot and Jim McLean tested Gary Sprake as United were forced on the back foot.

 

It was a tactical change by Don Revie that changed matters as he pushed Billy Bremner into a more advanced role and immediately the pendulum of pressure swung back in Unitedís favour and chances were created. Johnny Giles was a yard wide with a shot, then a dipping thirty-yard volley from Norman Hunter went close. Billy Bremner now more involved as an attacking force, fed Johnny Giles whose shot came back off a post into the grateful arms of Dundee goalkeeper Alistair Donaldson. Two minutes later a Peter Lorimer header spun from Donaldsonís grasp, but he just managed to retrieve it as it spun against a post. With ten minutes left Dundeeís resistance was broken when Eddie Gray drove home a thumping shot from a Jimmy Greenhoff corner to seal a second successive Fairs Cup Final appearance for United. But all in all they had looked tired and jaded after their long season and in a lethargic display they just squeezed through with only nine minutes left on the clock.

 

Phil Brown of the YEP observed Ď The team was completely played out both mentally and physically by their mammoth programmeand to force any more competitive games on them would be football cruelty to a side that a few weeks back could have taken on any team in Europeí. Thankfully the Gods smiled on United and the final was delayed until the next August as UEFA had already decreed. In the other Semi-Final Bologna pushed Ferencvaros hard in Italy but could only manage a 2-2 draw and the Hungarians won the right to meet United in the Two-legged Final on a 5-4 aggregate.

 

 

Match Action:

 

 

 

Eddie Gray jumps to head the ball with the Geldard Road End partly demolished in the background