April 2000: CITY 3 (Beagrie 43pen, 50; Windass 83) WIMBLEDON 0

SADLY, the stakes will be high for only one club in the season finale at Valley Parade on Saturday.

While Wimbledon still need the result to seal their remarkable battle against the drop, pride will be the sole motivation for the relegated Bantams.

But this week’s nostalgia game looks back on a clash when everything was on the line for both sides in the fight to stay in the Premiership.

City’s unlikely win at Sunderland six days earlier had opened the door on survival – something that nobody outside of BD8, least of all pundit Rodney Marsh, had thought possible.

But victory over a Wimbledon side two points above them, and boasting a superior goal difference, was vital.

The fun started in the tunnel before kick-off. The tight constraints of the Valley Parade dressing rooms meant that the players go up close and personal as they filed towards the pitch.

Stuart McCall would later play down suggestions that Wimbledon skipper John Hartson, back from four months out with a knee injury, had leaned across and planted one on him. But others who were there begged to differ.

Fuses were that short, particularly in the visiting ranks, that referee Jeff Winter even threatened to red card Hartson before he had stepped on the field.

City chairman Geoffrey Richmond later claimed Hartson was on “some kind of deathwish” and it was almost as if he wanted to get sent off. That fate would come to pass at the start of the second half.

By that point, Wimbledon were crashing towards an eighth-straight defeat that would spell the end for welly-wearing Norwegian manager Egil Olsen 24 hours later.

For the Bantams, the “biggest game in the club’s history” according to Richmond saw them on the back foot for large parts. But they struck when it mattered and got the big breaks.

The first of those came on 21 minutes when Jason Euell missed an open goal after Matt Clarke flapped at a cross. Then another Euell effort was headed off the line by John Dreyer, the hero from the Stadium of Light.

It took City 35 minutes to conjure something as Dean Saunders forced a good save from Neil Sullivan.

But they struck just before the break thanks to a dubious penalty. Saunders blasted a shot straight at Ben Thatcher and the linesman flagged for a generous hand ball.

Peter Beagrie duly dispatched the gift from the penalty spot and was still cartwheeling as Wimbledon harangued the officials.

There was more Dons anger about City’s second five minutes after the restart.

Wayne Jacobs appeared to handle the ball out wide but nothing was given and Beagrie cut inside to unleash a speculative effort that Sullivan completely misjudged and allowed past him.

That was too much for Hartson who launched a verbal tirade at the linesman – and got that red card that had been bubbling since the tunnel.

The 10-man visitors could still have made it uncomfortable for City but Carl Cort missed a sitter from two yards out.

And Paul Jewell’s Bantams sent the home fans into raptures with another soft goal seven minutes from the end.

There looked to be little on when Dean Windass collected the ball wide in the Dons penalty area. But his persistence beat the hapless Sullivan and he stroked home his 10th goal of the season from a tight angle.

CITY: Clarke, Halle, Wetherall, O’Brien, Jacobs, Windass, McCall, Dreyer, Beagrie, Blake (Westwood 67), Saunders.

WIMBLEDON: Sullivan, Cunningham, Blackwell (Gayle 62), Thatcher, Hreidarsson, Euell, Ardley, Hughes, Andersen, Cort, Hartson.

REFEREE: Jeff Winter