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On This Day – December 3rd 1988

This game marked the return to League action of Paul Bracewell after 31 months out with an injury sustained on New Year’s Day 1986 against Newcastle United. The player returned to the team three weeks later but continued to be hampered by the after-effects of the tackle by Billy Whitehurst and endured five operations before it was put right.

New signing Tony Cottee also had cause to celebrate that day as he scored his 100th career League goal. Bracewell’s pass was chested down by the former West Ham man who fired home past Bobby Mimms, the ex-Everton stopper.

The visitor’s had new £2 million summer signing Paul Gascgoine in their ranks and it was Gazza who had their best chance of the match, rounding Southall and seeming certain to score before Stuart McCall deflected his goalbound shot over the bar.

The victory for the Blues was at a cost, though, as Graeme Sharp limped off before half-time with a groin strain, to join player- coach Peter Reid on the injured list. The win moved the Blues into eighth place in the table, seven behind surprise leaders Norwich City, and that’s the position they finished the campaign, with Arsenal being crowned champions following their unforgettable win at Anfield in the final match of the season.

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