The game: City 2-0 Aston Villa
Date: December 31, 1977
The story: It had been a festive period to celebrate for City fans.
Not only had Colin Bell returned in the 4-0 Boxing Day win over Newcastle, but the day after, City had beaten another north eastern side with a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough.
On New Year’s Eve, City hosted Aston Villa at Maine Road another large holiday crowd of 46,074 (including this writer’s first City game with his dad).
City had already thrashed Villa 4-1 in the second game of the season, with Dennis Tueart getting a hat-trick as Tony Book’s side looked to kick on from finishing a point begin champions Liverpool the season before.
Bell’s return had undoubtedly given a huge lift to everyone at the club, and he was included in a starting XI that just oozed class: Joe Corrigan, Kenny Clements, Willie Donachie, Tommy Booth, Dave Watson, Gary Owen, Peter Barnes, Colin Bell, Brian Kidd, Asa Hartford, Dennis Tueart.
It was indeed a golden generation and there was genuine belief that this City team could go on and win the title for the first time in a decade.
With a chill in the air and the Maine Road floodlights on as the teams came out, there was a definite crackle of excitement in the air.
The goals were both well-taken, with Tueart at the heart of both moves.
His first assist came when he cut inside on the left of the Villa box before picking out Barnes who took the ball away from his marker with one touch and lashed the ball home from close range with his left foot.
But the goal that had Maine Road rocking to its foundations came later in the half, as Tueart found Hartford, who fed Barnes on the right and his low cross was met with a super diving header from Kidd to put City 2-0 up.
The Match of the Day cameras were in attendance and there was no way back for Villa after that, as City made it three wins on the bounce (that run would become six wins in a row) to end the year on a definite high.
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