History

GGM 48: Storey's penalty keeps Double alive

Peter Storey v Stoke City - 1971

If you had to pick one moment when Arsenal's Double dream was hanging by a thread, this was it.

Sure, the title run-in was tense and nerves were frayed when Liverpool took an extra-time lead at Wembley. But Arsenal never got so close to throwing away their chance of glory as they did in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough on March 27, 1971.

Stoke City had already beaten Arsenal 5-0 that season and looked to have the Gunners' number again when they led 2-0 in Sheffield. Both goals were farcical from an Arsenal perspective: Peter Storey's clearance bounced into the net off Denis Smith and John Ritchie capitalised on Charlie George's poor backpass.

Then came the turning point. Jimmy Greenhoff, in stellar form for Stoke all day, fluffed a golden chance to put his side three ahead before half time. Arsenal were down but, thanks to Greenhoff, they weren't quite out.

The second half brought salvation for Arsenal and particularly for Storey after his role in Stoke's opener. The abrasive midfielder hammered Bertie Mee's side back into the game from 20 yards after Ray Kennedy's chip into the box had caused confusion in the Stoke defence.

Then, in stoppage time ironically added on for an injury to George, Arsenal saved themselves. Frank McLintock met George Armstrong's cross with a firm header which beat Gordon Banks but was palmed away by John Mahoney. Penalty to Arsenal.

John Mahoney handles to concedes a last minute penalty

John Mahoney handles to concede a last minute penalty

The yellow-shirted Gunners leapt with joy - but not Storey. He had the unenviable task of beating England legend Banks from 12 yards to keep Arsenal's Double dream alive. Storey saw Banks go right and slotted the ball low to the keeper's left, cool as you like. The tie would go to a replay.

Goals from George Graham and Kennedy saw off Stoke with a minimum of fuss four days later in Birmingham. The rest, as they say, is history. But that history would not have been made without Arsenal's last-gasp reprieve at Hillsborough.

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