Rochdale v Posh 18 Apr 61
Venue: Spotland, Rochdale
Score: Rochdale 2 v Peterborough Utd 2
Referee: T. Reynolds.
Against a middle of the table team which rose to the occasion like champions United had to fight every inch of the way towards the Fourth Division title at Rochdale.
For 28 minutes in the second half they virtually had both hands on the trophy when Bly put them ahead for the first time in the game, but it was snatched away from them six minutes from the end, Rochdale blasting home a well deserved equaliser.
Never let it be said, however, that Posh threw away their chance to make certain of the Fourth Division championship. They had to fight desperately hard against a very determined team and the single point they brought home was one of the hardest they have earned all season.
Two points would have made United champions on goal average, Rochdale knew this and came out fighting from the start.
The Lancashire fans were quick to point out that when United went to Rochdale for the original fixture in January they were a goal down when the game was called off because of fog.
And it was perhaps a little ironic when the situation became “as you were” after 26 minutes, Cairns racing clear of the defence to give the advancing Walls no chance with his ground shot.
United’s forwards were given very little scope by the strong tackling Rochdale defence but gradually they began to dominate the play and forced a series of corners on both wings which had the home team reeling.
It was not until four minutes from the interval that United got on level terms again. McNamee made ground down the left wing and forced yet another corner. The ball see-sawed across the front of the Rochdale goal, several Posh players lunging at it with little success.
Finally it came back to McNamee whose shot-cum-centre was touched on by Emery to Smith who steered it into the net.
So Posh began the second half poised for the kill and the championship. Indeed it seemed to be all over in the 56th minute when a corner from Hails was rushed into the net by Bly.
Posh were ahead at last and the Fourth Division trophy was virtually in their grasp. But Rochdale had other ideas and as well as United played in the torrential rain the home team seemed to hold all the aces, pounding home attack after attack.
Such determination could have only one reward – a goal and although Ripley made a brilliant save from Hepton after Walls had been drawn out of goal the equaliser was on its way.
Six minutes remained when Burgin put a long clearance down the middle for Lord to race away with the ball. Walls came out to the edge of the penalty area for yet another daring save but the ball rebounded to Cairns who blasted it into the net past the frantically diving Whittaker.
A minute later Lord headed the ball home only to be given offside and seconds from the end Hepton was brought down inches outside the penalty area.
A draw was a fitting result to this exciting game, and Posh were should be satisfied with a point, despite the disappointment at not clinching the championship.
Posh: Jack Walls, Dick Whittaker, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Norman Rigby, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.
Rochdale: Ted Burgin, John Hardman, Jack Edwards, Ron Phoenix, Ray Aspden, Jimmy Thompson, Stan Hepton, Ronnie Cairns, Frank Lord, Brian Birch and Ron Barnes.
Goals: Posh – Ray Smith 41 mins and Terry Bly 56 mins. Rochdale – Ronnie Cairns (2) 26 mins & 84 mins.