The thought of Carlisle United getting the better of star-studded Manchester City might seem a little far fetched today to say the least.

The idea may not have been quite so ludicrous back in 1970, but it was still some achievement: the Blues overturning a side full of City’s earlier golden age of heroes: Book, Summerbee, Bell, Lee.

They came to Cumbria in September ’70 as League Cup holders and left on the receiving end of a famous Brunton Park beating, United summoning an inspirational performance which brought a 2-1 victory in front of nearly 18,000 fans.

The second round League Cup tie pitted Bob Stokoe’s Carlisle against Joe Mercer’s City in a second-v-first-tier contest. United had recent League Cup pedigree having reached the semi-finals the season before, and were by now an established Second Division side with a reputation for playing admired football.

An excellent City side, meanwhile, needed little introduction. “This is possibly the number one cup side in the country, and this obstacle is in front of us,” Stokoe said of a team who also held the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. “But we don’t worry about it.”

United took that breezy attitude into an outstanding team performance which eventually achieved the cup upset it deserved. Stokoe brought influential frontman Bob Hatton back into the side after he passed a fitness test only half an hour before the game, and this clearly boosted the Cumbrians as they set about City’s defence from the very early stages of the tie.

News and Star: Bob Hatton on the attack for United in the first halfBob Hatton on the attack for United in the first half

They almost plundered an early goal when Bobby Owen threaded Hatton through, only the quick-thinking of City captain Tony Book denying Carlisle.

The visitors, naturally, imposed their own quality on proceedings and there were some busy spells in goal for United’s Allan Ross, who denied Mike Doyle and the ever-classy Colin Bell.

But Carlisle did not let City have things their own way and from a corner they then surged into the lead. Keeper Joe Corrigan failed to deal with a corner, and Dennis Martin was on hand to slam the ball high into the net.

News and Star: City can't prevent Dennis Martin's shot from finding the netCity can't prevent Dennis Martin's shot from finding the net

An exciting contest continued, with Bell rifling just wide for City and Owen in the thick of more United near-misses. Blues defender Tot Winstanley kept Francis Lee under close attention, while at the other end Carlisle were bold in their approach, testing City’s Corrigan again through Frank Barton and Martin.

There was a standing ovation for the Cumbrians as it reached half-time – and then further noise when a dramatic second half unfolded. United’s football was of a high standard, Mike Sutton turning in an exemplary performance in midfield with Chris Balderstone typically refined, and Hatton twice came close to a Carlisle second soon after the break.

City’s recovery, though, grew pace around the hour mark and they finally drew level when Bell’s cross found Lee, who crashed the ball past Ross.

A lesser United side might have been demoralised by City’s fightback, but Carlisle were undaunted, and responded to the setback superbly. United’s football remained at a high standard, impressive in its speed and purpose, and in the 74th minute they stole in for a superb winning goal.

Hatton was the man to provide it, receiving the ball from Barton and bearing down determinedly on goal, finally sidestepping the onrushing Corrigan to slot the ball into the empty net.

News and Star: Bob Hatton evades Joe Corrigan to score Carlisle's winnerBob Hatton evades Joe Corrigan to score Carlisle's winner

Brunton Park erupted with a deafening roar, as it did again at full-time, City having failed to breach Stokoe’s defence in the final 15 minutes, Carlisle emerging with one of their great Brunton Park cup victories.

“I think it’s probably the best game I’ve ever played in,” said Balderstone afterwards, with Stokoe equally effusive. “It’s results like this that make it all worthwhile,” the Blues manager said, and this was in stark contrast to the City perspective, voiced by No2 Malcolm Allison.

“We played bloody terrible, didn’t we?” he told reporters. Mercer was more restrained, preferring to praise United’s “very good” display.

As City surrendered the cup, Carlisle went on to beat Oxford in the third round thanks to a Hatton treble, before succumbing to Aston Villa at the following stage. After that, it was United’s league exploits that became almost as engrossing, the Blues finishing fourth in the Second Division, just outside the promotion race.

News and Star: Corrigan and City can't believe it as United turn away to celebrate their winnerCorrigan and City can't believe it as United turn away to celebrate their winner

Stokoe left for Blackpool mid-season, replaced by Ian MacFarlane, while City managed another mid-table top-flight finish. Hull-born Hatton, meanwhile, fired 24 goals in the campaign: a high-class return which took him on to further heights with Birmingham, Blackpool, Luton and Sheffield United.

United: Ross, Hemstead, Davis, Ternent, Winstanley, Sutton, Martin, Barton, Owen, Hatton, Balderstone. Sub: Murray.

Man City: Corrigan, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Young, Towers. Sub: Bowyer.

Crowd: 17,942.