Posh v Fulham FL Cup 2nd Round Replay 7 Sept 1976
Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 1 v Fulham 2
Referee: J. Taylor.
It took a slice of pure George Best genius and a giant helping of jam for Fulham to see off Posh’s League Cup challenge for 1976/77.
After taking a two goal lead, Fulham’s all-star cast of old-time family favourites had goalkeeper Peter Mellor’s left leg and the underside of the crossbar to thank for not having to enter extra time.
As it was the Fulham fans left the ground after 90 minutes and staged a somewhat relived Cockney knees-up along Bridge Street.
It could and should have been so different. Posh left it until the last 10 minutes to show why they had reached the replay stage.
When they came out of their shell Fulham realised just what sort of game they could have been involved in.
Prior to the grandstand finish George Best had shown why he had pulled 16,476 fans through the London Road turnstiles.
He produced his own particular sort of wizardry, in the 40th minute when, after receiving a pass from Rodney Marsh, he stepped on the ball , flicked it into the air and volleyed it past Posh keeper Eric Steele from fully 25 yards.
That was the slice of genius. The jam came in the 77th minute when the arm-waving Marsh broke clear of the Posh defence and pulled the ball back to Alan Slough.
His thunderous shot cannoned off Jack Carmichael and as he followed up it bounced back off his chest and into the Posh net past a stranded Eric Steele.
Before and in between times Best produced some inspired running from midfield without ever making Keith Oakes look out of place.
“I was happy with my game but it’s going to take me perhaps half a dozen matches to get back to anywhere near my real form” Best told Peterborough Evening Telegraph reporter Hugh Southon.
It has to be said, however, that even a half-fit George Best looks set to create plenty of problems for Second Division defences.
With Posh one down at half time and having shown very little punch up front there couldn’t have been many who could have bet on the team reaching the third round.
But they came out with plenty of purpose and Oakes gave notice of their intent when he smashed a great shot from 30 yards just wide.
As the half progressed Robson showed more and more why he is probably London Road’s favourite son.
He was exerting a tremendous influence on midfield without ever having to resort to Marsh-like gesticulations and the occasional displays of pique.
But just as Posh were beginning to promise that it might be they and not Fulham who would be meeting Bolton in the 3rd Round they were hit by the second goal.
It was a freak but it would have knocked the stuffing out of most sides. Not Posh, they reacted as though they had been collectively bitten by a snake and threw everything into a last ditch stand.
Chris Turner had been pushed up front and it was he who initiated the Posh gaol in the 85th minute. He slid a pass to Walker who centred for Robson to meet on the far post and squeeze the ball past Mellor.
It was the signal for an all out Posh assault. Robson was beating his hands on the turf in total anguish as seconds later he watched a vicious close-range shot bounce off Mellor’s right leg.
And in the final minute Peter Hindley let go a fabulous shot from the right wing which rapped the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.
The George Best Spectacular was over. It had drawn another big audience and produced another splendid result for Fulham.
But as Tommy Robson said: “That’s football I suppose but it was sickening to go down to a goal like their second when we had three far better efforts cleared in the last five minutes.”
The Posh: Eric Steele, Peter Hindley, Jeff Lee, Bob Doyle, Chris Turner, Jack Carmichael, Keith Oakes, David Gregory, Ernie Moss, John Cozens (sub Jim Walker) and Tommy Robson.
Fulham: Peter Mellor, John Cutbush, Les Strong, Alan Slough, Ernie Howe, Bobby Moore, George Best, John Evanson, Viv Busby, Rodney Marsh and Les Barrett.
Unused sub: Terry Bullivant.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Tommy Robson 85 mins. Fulham – George Best 40 mins and Alan Slough 77 mins.
Booking: Rodney Marsh (Fulham).