FA Cup Final 1964 - Preston 2 West Ham 3
Preston North End : A.Kelly, G.Ross, J.Smith, N.Lawton, T.Singleton, H.Kendall, D.Wilson, A.Ashworth, A.Dawson, A.Spavin, D.Holden.
West Ham United : J.Standen, J.Bond, J.Burkett, E.Bovington, K.Brown, B.Moore, P.Brabrook, R.Boyce, J.Byrne, G.Hurst, J.Sissons.
Match Report: There was no doubt that West Ham were strong favourites to lift the FA Cup for the first time in their history in this first versus second division final.
The Londoners had enjoyed a fine 3-1 victory over the cup holders Manchester United in the semi finals and, led by their outstanding captain Bobby Moore, were widely expected to see off their opponents with little fuss.
The opening exchanges suggested that such forecasts would be wide of the mark, however, as Preston settled into the game much earlier than the young West Ham side.
Quickest of all to settle was North End's Howard Kendall, not yet eighteen and becoming the youngest player ever to appear in a cup final. Only playing because of a suspension handed out by the club to Ian Davidson for a breach of discipline Kendall helped his side gain the early initiative.
Intercepting consistently at the back, the youngsters' willingness to move forward into midfield to join the neat passing moves of Nobby Lawton and Alan Spavin allowed his team to control the middle of the park, Moore at this stage content to stay mainly in defence.
After ten minutes PNE took a deserved lead. Again the move had its' source in a short passing move through the centre between Kendall and Lawton before Alex Dawson sent in a low, arkward volley from the edge of the area which Jim Standen fumbled allowing left winger Doug Holden to poke home.
Crucially, perhaps, the lead did not last. Almost immediately the Hammers' own teenager John Sissons cut in from his wing, received an astute return pass from Johnny Byrne and, with a cluster of defenders converging, slipped a low shot just inside the far post.
Now the game was more balanced with the clever Byrne threatening to take a hold on proceedings as he wandered dangerously and Geoff Hurst wasted one clear headed chance while Byrne himself was only inches away with a snap volleyed attempt. Still Preston matched these chances, however, with Alec Ashworth too slow to make anything of a clear opening and Nobby Lawton forcing a flying save from Standen.
By the half hour the second division team were clearly controlling play again. Twice shots from the edge of the area were blocked by West Ham arms. The first claim, Moore from Spavin's drive, was muted. The second, Brown from Spavin, was vehement. On both occassions the referee was unkind to the underdogs.
Shortly before half time, however, North End regained their advantage. Wilson sent over a corner from the right for Dawson to attack. Both keeper Standen and centre half Brown slipped as the it came and Preston's bull of a centre forward needed no second invitation, sending a downwards header into the corner of the net.
The second half started to a different tune, a claret and blue tune. Closing down the spaces in midfield far more quickly than before the Hammers began to offer more consistent service to their front men.
Preston's defence seemed reasonably comfortable, however. Even when Tony Singleton intercepted Byrne's whipped centre squarely in his privates he calmly turned his man and slipped the ball back to his goalkeeper before collapsing in agony. The strapping stopper was able to continue after treatment, keeping one hand in ginger examination of the affected area for the next couple of minutes.
Then West Ham equalised from a corner of their own. Brown got ahead of Dawson and headed forward and Hurst reacted sharply to send another header spearing towards the top corner. Alan Kelly dived despairingly, the ball just eluding his fingers but hitting the underside of the bar to bounce down against the back of the keepers' head and trickle agonisingly over the line as the Irishman scrambled desperately to retrieve.
Hurst received the credit for this goal even though it looked more like an own goal, albeit one Kelly could do nothing to prevent. Now, for twenty minutes West Ham punished Preston but could not take advantage of their dominance.
Eddie Bovington drove just over, Hurst failed to connect with a Byrne centre barely five yards out and a Sissons effort just passed the far post whilst Kelly had to save smartly from Hurst and Sissons. Preston still had their chances, good ones for Dawson and Holden from deep inside the West Ham penalty area but both were snatched at and wasted.
With a quarter of an hour still to play the game was very definitely back in the balance. The West Ham pressure was now mainly spent and the heavy pitch appeared to have taken an exacting toll on many of their players.
Suddenly Preston were offering the threat again. The second division side seemed to have missed a trick by failing to service their right winger Dave Wilson properly. From the early minutes Wilson had shown that he had the comprehensive beating of his full back, Jack Burkett, but had never received a regular supply of ball. Now he took matters into his own hands in an effort to secure glory for his club.
Roaming infield he drifted past two challenges to release the sluggish Ashworth who could only shoot tamely from seven yards before sending in a much more dangerous attempt himself after a similar dribble which Standen just about gathered at the second time of asking. Finally the winger fastened onto a knock down in the box to swivel and shoot cleanly only for the ball to arrow straight into the keepers' midrift.
Preston were looking stronger as the last few minutes ticked by. Bovington needed to recieve treatment for cramp with several of his teammates looking equally exhausted. Compounding this Byrne, so influential earlier, had now mysteriously disappeared.
They still had Moore and Hurst, however. Moore had been quietly efficient in general but was now striding forward from defence more regularly in an effort to galvanise his team and Hurst retained the power that was always such a part of his game.
The game was beyond its' ninetieth minute when Hurst set off on a run for goal. Singleton was able to challenge but the ball ran for Peter Brabrook lurking on the right angle of the penalty area. In a flash he had whipped a centre to the back post where Ronnie Boyce, hitherto totally annonymous, found the ball arriving perfectly in time with his run. A simple downwards header was enough to create history for himself and his club.
Preston still had one chance to level with a free kick on the edge of the box but when Dawson's shot was charged down their gallant attempt was over.
So the Hammers, as most had predicted, were able to take the cup home to Upton Park but their victory had not been in the straight forward manner expected. They had, however, certainly played their part in a truly thrilling game that could take its' place in the annals of great matches produced by this famous competition.
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