Rushden Town v Posh 2nd Qualifying Rd 15 Oct 1938
Venue: Hayden Road, Rushden
Score: Rushden Town 4 v Peterborough Utd 4
Referee: G.R. Hodson
Whatever the result of the replay with Rushden, it will be admitted by all who saw this game that Posh were lucky to still be in the cup after their visit to Rushden. A penalty awarded four minutes from time enabled the Posh to save the game after being three goals in arrear at the half way stage.
Rushden deserved to go straight into the divisional final to the Posh’s exclusion; there is no doubt about that. Even the most ardent Posh supporter must have felt sympathetically inclined towards the ‘Russians’ by reason of the dramatic events of the closing minutes, which robbed them of victory and made a replay necessary.
A dramatic 90 minutes culminated in a series of thrilling incidents in the Peterborough goalmouth as Rushden tried in vain to restore the lead which they had held from the sixth minute. Posh were desperate in those closing minutes after their gift goal. They had reason to be, for half a dozen free kicks threatened danger, and Rushden came buzzing round the Posh goal like a swarm of bees, anxious to get in a last telling sting. It was a harassed Posh defence that met the onslaught – so harassed, in fact, that when the Posh were awarded a free kick, the ball was deliberately sent over the grandstand.
It must have been a nasty shock for those Posh supporters who visualised a walkover for the Posh when, at half time they found their favourites three goals down. The position looked critical when one remembered Rushden had not lost one of their ten games.
Most people will be prepared to agree that ground advantage was worth a goal to Rushden. That goal came six minutes after the start, and caused plenty of excitement, but no concern. But it soon became obvious that the Posh were in difficulties, and that Rushden held not only ground advantage, but the advantage which the spin of the coin gave them – a pretty stiff wind and a powerful sun at their backs. Rushden were two up in thirteen minutes and three ahead five minutes from the interval, and the Posh were cutting a sorry figure.
The first, on the whole, was responsible for curious play. When Rushden had the wind behind them, one would have expected them to make use of the long ball,. but instead – except when effecting clearances – they resorted to close passing, and to some effect.
On the other hand, it was reasonable to assume that the Posh would play a short passing game, having regard to the strength of the wind, but here again there was unorthodox play, and the ball swung about with such long passes that invariably the wind picked the ball up to Rushden’s advantage.
Rushden would probably have gone straight into the next round had they shown any aggression after the interval, but they beat themselves by resorting to defensive football in hope of clinging to their lead. The result was that when they brought back Harrison and Hillyard, the Posh defence had, for the greater part of the time, at any rate, no need to worry about what was left of the Rushden attack, and they concentrated on feeding their own forwards.
A stop watch told us that only 22 seconds had passed after the interval before the Posh started their comeback. Twenty minutes later came the second goal, but when it looked as though the Posh were going to run away with things, Rushden stepped in straight from the centre and made the score 4-2. Thrill followed thrill, and eight minutes from time the game was still in the balance when the Posh scored again..
Then, with only four minutes to go, came the goal that will be discussed on every street corner in Rushden for the rest of the season. The Posh split up a Rushden attack, and Sharp drove the ball well forward to Macartney. In turn, the Posh leader swept the ball over for Fielding to put across a beautiful centre. Olney, however, threw himself on the ball and smothered it as Bowater came in to challenge him. At the same time Macartney had run forward to anticipate a pass should Bowater secure possession. The whole incident occupied but a few seconds, but ended in the referee pointing to the spot while Olney was still holding the ball on the ground.
There appeared to be no foul or infringement. Seven people in the Press box failed to notice anything that was likely to lead to a penalty; nobody in the crowd seemed capable of offering an explanation. In the dressing room after the match nobody seemed to understand the referees decision, except one person, who gave his view that Macartney was fouled by a Rushden back.
Anyway Macartney scored from the penalty spot and the Posh won the right to a replay.
Again the Posh forwards were guilty of bad shooting. They had their chances in the first half, and failed to take them. Most of the openings came from the right wing, where Fielding, repeatedly fed by Rowbotham and Harold Smith, did useful work.
The forward line did not work with that cohesion which is so vital in such games. Macartney was a trier, but much of his work came to nothing. Haden played a spirited game in the first half, when things were going against the Posh, but the strain told.
The Posh’s amateur goalkeeper Dickens, was beaten by the wind and the sun in the first half, and never looked confident. He was slightly concussed in the second half in a collision with a Rushden forward and this did not tend to make him safe.
Hillyard scored Rushden’s first goal after six minutes, deflecting a shot from McNeill into the net and seven minutes later, following a good run of passing in which Bland and Burgess figured, Harrison got goal number two from close range. Five minutes before the interval Harrison worked his way out of position and scored from 30 yards. The ball curled away in the wind, and Dickens had no chance.
The second half opened in a sensational manner, for Bowater and Macartney went through from the centre, and Fielding smashed the ball into the roof of the Rushden net for Posh’s first goal.
Macartney made the second goal 20 minutes later. He beat two Rushden players and drove the ball down for Bott to score. Almost immediately Burgess raced to the other end and put over a beautiful pass for Jeffery to breast the ball in and make the score 4-2 in Rushden’s favour.
With only eight minutes to go Fielding tore away and gave Macartney the chance to score a glorious goal. Then four minutes from time, came the controversial penalty award, which led to Macartney levelling the scores.
The Posh: Edward Dickens, Charles McDonagh, Jack Smith, Sam Rowbotham, Harold Smith, Sam Haden, Horace Fielding, Arthur Sharp, Charlie MacCartney, Eric Bott and George Bowater.
Rushden Town: Olney, Inwood, Patenall, Bland, Markham, McNeill, Burgess, Harrison, Peacock, Hillyard and Jeffery.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Horace Fielding 46 mins, Charlie MacCartney (2) 82 mins & 86 mins and Eric Bott 68 mins. Rushden Town – Hillyard 6 mins, Harrison (2) 13 mins & 40 mins and Jeffery 69 mins.