Nottingham Forest v Wolves: 1980 League Cup final
LONDON - MARCH 15: Wolverhampton Wanderers players celebrate winning the cup after the League Cup Final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest held on March 15, 1980 at Wembley Stadium, in London. Wolverhampton Wanderers won the match and cup 1-0. (Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images)

With their first of many games starting in 1892, it was not until 1980 that Wolverhampton Wanderers faced Nottingham Forest in the League Cup for the first time. It just so happens that it was in the final.

VAVEL UK looks back on the classic encounter between the two sides ahead of their League Cup meeting on Tuesday.

  • Wolves face the European Champions

The date was 15th March 1980. Wolves were having a very good season following years of struggling near the bottom of the top division. John Barnwell was in charge of the Wanderers and had managed to get the club to their second League Cup final, which unfortunately would turn out to be their last.

This was a strong Wolves side still, with the likes of captain Emlyn Hughes and Derek Parkin in defence and Kenny Hibbitt, Andy Gray and John Richards gunning for goals in attack. 

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However, it was the boys from Nottingham that were the ones to beat. Manager Brian Clough was leading Forest through what could be regarded as their most successful period in the club's history, with the side winning the Football League First DivisionEuropean Cup, UEFA Super Cup and League Cup all in recent memory.

As the current holders of the League Cup, Forest were not exactly keen on giving it up so easily, so Wolves were faced with a very daunting task to overcome 'Old Big Ead's' side. With names such as Martin O'Neill, Peter Shilton, Viv Anderson and Trevor Francis turning out for Forest, it was sure to be a great cup final.

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  • The Tricky Trees with a bright start

It was Forest who started the brighter of the two teams, with Wolves struggling to get out of their own half. O'Neill dribbled in from the right-hand-side and played a through ball to Francis, who then flashed the ball towards the Wolves goal only for Paul Bradshaw to get low and palm it away.

Another Forest attack saw some great link up play by Frank Gray and O'Neill that put Gray in on goal, but the Scotsman could not find the finish after being closed down by Bradshaw. Wolves themselves did not really create any goal scoring opportunities, with most of their attacks fizzling out to nothing.

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Forest captain John McGovern had a great chance from the edge of the box, only to see his shot blocked by some very erratic defending by Wolves. It was a wonder that the team from the Black Country went into half-time still level with their midland rivals. 

  • The Wolves fight back in the second half

The second half saw Wolves begin to get more into the game. A looping free-kick found the head of Mel Eves unmarked at the back-post, with the ball flying across the Forest goal very dangerously.

There was more trouble from Wolves with another ball into the box that found the head of Andy Gray, who nodded the ball high towards Shilton in goal. With the ball in the air, Richards jumped up to challenge the England goalkeeper and just nick it first, for the ball to bounce near the goal line, only for Shilton to grab a hold of it. Pressure was beginning to build on the European Champions by Wolves.

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Then the big moment came when a long ball up from Peter Daniel was met with confusion by Dave Needham and Shilton, which saw Needham chest the ball back to where he thought Shilton was, only to see that his goalkeeper actually had come to collect the ball! The pair then collided with one another as the ball bounced kindly to Andy Gray, who had the easiest of tap-ins to put the Wolves 1-0 up.

  • All hands on deck defending from Wolves

The game was not quite over yet though, as some more erratic Wolves defending saw a clearance bounce off another Wolves player and into the path of O'Neill, who fired the ball towards goal from close range, only for the ball to somehow be blocked after ricocheting off two players, only then for it to then bounce off Gary Birtles and then finally, into the safe hands of Bradshaw.

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The last bit of the game was most definitely a back against the wall deal for Wolves, as they had all eleven players defending in the box for their lives. Chances came for Forest, but the resilient and dogged defending by Wolves held firm to see the European Champions taste defeat. A glorious day for Wolves at Wembley, in what would become their last major trophy win.

Clough and his men though went on to win the European Cup once again to make it two in a row, so it was not all bad for them that season. Ultimately though, for Wolves to beat such a strong Forest team at the time for silverware was a miraculous achievement.

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