Northwich Victoria v Posh FA Cup 2nd Rd 11 Dec 1976
Venue: Drill Field, Northwich
Score: Northwich Victoria 0 v Peterborough Utd 1 (Match abandoned)
Referee: Michael Lowe.
Enough was seen before the fog came down to know that Posh can reach the 3rd round of this year’s FA Cup.
Pre-judging issues in football is almost as dangerous as walking through a minefield but Northwich Victoria hardly put up any red flag indicating danger and the Posh must feel confident.
The confidence must be tempered with a certain amount of caution for if the type of conditions which existed in this game are similar in the rearranged game, one mistake could be enough to swing the game either way.
Having said that it has to be said that Northwich looked little more than workmanlike and energetic.
Posh, in comparison, were beginning o look different class as the fog came down and there was another indication in the difference in professionalism after the players had been called off.
That was when Posh re-emerged in flat soled boots to test conditions should there be any possibility of a re-start.
There was not bit it was clear that Noel Cantwell and his players had prepared well for this one and it is difficult to see them coming away from Drill Field in the re-arranged game empty handed.
The locals must have been happy to see the fog roll in off the River Dane for as it intensified so did the Posh pressure and it was gradually becoming apparent that Northwich were likely to be on the wrong end of a good hiding.
When Jon Nixon ghosted through the fog to pick up a Keith Oakes pass and slam it over goalkeeper John Famer’s head it became even more obvious that the fog had made a timely intervention as far as Norwich were concerned.
For Posh, the goal was destined to serve only as a token gesture of their superiority but when the referee called them off two minutes later they had probably seen enough to know that they could progress to the next round.
Maybe there is more to this Northwich side than we saw in these 24 minutes… there is going to have to be if they are to trouble Posh greatly.
For apart from a couple of early long range efforts from Wain and Smith they did little to cause alarm.
In contrast Bob Doyle and John Cozens in particular were a constant threat and the difference in class was perfectly illustrated when Doyle shadowed by four defenders pushed the ball through Hamblett’s legs and left the others.
But in front of a fiercely partisan crowd Posh had made a nervous start, typified by a poor Turner back pass which had Waugh scampering from the line.
As things progressed the back four began to take control of Northwich’s rare raids and despite not making too many clear chances themselves Posh looked more likely to score than Northwich.
The frosty surface made good football difficult and time and again we saw balls running away from the Posh forwards as they struggled to gain a measure of control.
But it was Posh who came to terms with the conditions quicker and that too augurs well for their chances in the rematch.
So despite that fiercely partisan crowd (who are going to have to pay at the gates again) and despite the obvious pressure on a league side in these games Posh should win or at least get a replay.
One cannot see Posh taking things for granted and the Northern Premier League outfit my upgrade their game.
But the truth is that Posh were in nothing like top gear and should be able to improve on their own performance.
Predictions are highly dangerous and Northwich may have seen a little too much of the Posh style for complete safety.
But whatever they learned from those 24 fog bound minutes it is not expected that it will make a lot of difference in the end.
The only danger might be the weather again and one thing Posh can do without is a string of postponements.
Although Posh Manager Cantwell was extremely pleased with the team’s performance saying ” Although the game was only 25 minutes old I was very pleased with the way the players had approached it, with good controlled football. Certainly on the day it looked as though we were going to win and it was very disappointing when the game had to be stopped. Of course the referee was quite right to call it off when he did, it would have been impossible to continue.”
However Cantwell also said ” The biggest danger now is over-confidence. Northwich won’t play the same but we will be alright if we adopt the same approach.”
The Posh: Keith Waugh, Peter Hindley, Keith Oakes, Bob Doyle, Chris Turner, Derek Jefferies, Jack Carmichael, Jon Nixon, Ernie Moss, John Cozens, and Tommy Robson.
Unused Sub: David Gregory.
Northwich Victoria: Farmer, Eccleshare, Nieman, P. Jones, Hamblett, K. Jones, Wain, Swede, Smith, King and Collier.
Unused sub: Hutchison.
Goal scorer: The Posh – Jon Nixon (21 mins).