FA Cup Final Series 1989/90: Man United 1-0 Crystal Palace (3-3 replay)

by Sam Peoples

The 1990 FA Cup final is the trophy with began Alex Ferguson’s silverware reign at the club and it’s marked down as an important turning point in our history.

Having joined the club in 1986, Alex Ferguson had not managed to bring any silverware to Man United having come from Aberdeen with a fierce reputation and pedigree after winning the European Cup Winners Cup against Real Madrid in 1983.

It hadn’t at all gone to plan for Ferguson up until that point and losing the cup final against Crystal Palace may well have seen him sacked as manager having had his job arguably saved by Mark Robins with his winner against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup Third Round. What followed was an intense FA Cup final which had fans on the edge of their seats.


Gary O’Reilly drew first blood for Palace by heading them 1-0 up within the first 20 minutes but captain Marvel Bryan Robson got United back on level terms as the teams went in 1-1 at half-time.

United then took the lead through a poacher’s finish from Mark Hughes and the game swung in our favour but the introduction of Ian Wright changed it. His brilliant equaliser in the 72nd minute was enough to make sure the teams were forced to go to extra time.

Wright followed that up right at the start of extra time with a volley at the back post to push Palace into a 3-2 lead and United were wobbling. Step forward Hughes to save the day with a goal after 113 minutes to make it 3-3. What a game that was but it wasn’t over because the final whistle meant the two teams would have to do it all over again in a replay.


The replay was a completely different type of game. Les Sealey was in brilliant for United in goal and that proved to be all the difference because with one barnstorming run from left-back and a top class finish, Lee Martin won the FA Cup for United. The trophy drought was over for Ferguson and we all know what happened next.

Here’s a couple of stories from some reds who were at Wembley and remember the day.

@OllieSpaniel: “Another Thursday night replay again in 1990. We were down Wembley way and I remember seeing my boss from work with Sparky’s banner draped over him. Looked a bit different to how he did in a suit!

“Our bench seats were low down so it wasn’t the best view but it was such a killer goal from Martin Lee. Job done. I remember a year later in Rotterdam that we reflected on this night.”

Barney Chilton: “We had to wait. We had to suffer. We even suffered during that 1990 Cup run as we only seemed to do it right on the cup games. The aways, the great away ends we did it the hard way and the final was a belter. Stevie Coppell got his songs of appreciation but don’t beat us!

“A tight, tense Thursday Replay and then Lee Martin. Mark Robins and him then to thank for saving the day, from Forest to Oldham, you felt the name was on the trophy.”

Next up in our FA Cup final series is 1993/4 and our clash against Chelsea.

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