Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 5 v Darlington 1
Officials: K. Aston.
Some brilliant attacking moves by the United forwards which enabled centre forward Terry Bly to score four goals had the Darlington defence at sixes and sevens at London Road on Christmas Eve and although the visitors fought back gamely when the score was 2-1 they could not hold the very determined United attackers.
Wingers Billy Hails and Peter McNamee laid on some perfect crosses for Bly to convert into goals and the centre forward might well have had at least half a dozen in the net.
Darlington had to make two late changes because of injury and it was obvious that they missed centre half Ron Greener who was resting a knee injury in order to play in the game at Darlington.
The north eastern club did not look like promotion candidates, however.
They did not measure up to the standard of Crystal Palace and Northampton, Posh’s most dangerous rivals in the championship race.
Darlington did most of the early attacking but the Posh defence again showed how much they have improved in recent weeks and any dangerous situations were soon cleared up by the ever alert Jack Walls.
United’s first dangerous move ended with Ray Smith being obstructed on the edge of the penalty area. From the free kick Dennis Emery forced Tinsley to make a smart save.
One wonders what would have happened had Emery’s shot gone in, because it was in exactly the same circumstances in his last appearance at London Road that referee Mr Aston of Ilford disallowed a goal and robbed United of a point in the match against Southport.
Walls did well to snatch the ball from the feet of Baxter to prevent a certain goal and he must have been relieved when Posh ‘broke the ice’ and scored the opening goal after 13 minutes.
A low centre from Hails was swept into the net by the onrushing Bly. The Darlington goalkeeper never had a chance to save.
Peterborough’s forward line continued to dominate the play and after 30 minutes McNamee rounded two defenders to chip over a perfect centre for Bly to head his second goal of the afternoon.
Darlington hit back with a goal by Baxter two minutes before the interval. Walls might have stopped the flying header from a right wing centre but for a collision with Keith Ripley who was also trying to intercept the ball.
In the second half the visitors looked as if they might get on level terms in a spell of determined pressure.
Posh defended brilliantly, however, and Norman Rigby had another splendid game.
McNamee very nearly scored when he beat Tinsley to a back pass and dribbled round the goalkeeper. He was robbed as he was about to shoot into the empty net.
Smith teed the ball up for Bly to complete his hat-trick but the centre forward was over anxious and blazed the ball over the crossbar.
But it was Bly’s day, however, and he scored number three by heading home another smartly chipped centre from McNamee after 65 minutes.
Seven minutes later Bly was sent tearing away up the middle after an astute pass from Smith. He took the ball in his stride and cracked home a typical opportunist goal.
Hails completed the scoring nine minutes from the end. Bly swung across a good centre and McNamee turned the ball back to Hails who scored with ease.
Posh: Jack Walls, Dick Whittaker, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Norman Rigby, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.
Darlington: Tinsley, Henderson, Mulholland, Furphy, T. Robson, Spencer, Rayment, Hawkes, L. Robson, Baxter and Morton.
Goals: Posh – Terry Bly (4) 13 mins, 30 mins, 65 mins & 72 mins and Billy Hails 81 mins. Darlington – Baxter 43 mins.