Nottingham Forest v Posh FA Cup 3rd Rd 1 Jan 1976
Venue: City Ground, Nottingham
Score: Nottingham Forest 0 v Peterborough Utd 0
Referee: D.T. Richardson
A crowd of over 31,500 saw the Posh continue their traditional FA Cup fighting traditions to earn a third round replay with Second Division Nottingham Forest.
It was a tribute to the Posh’s qualities of determination and impressive defensive organisation that they were able to remain unscathed in the face of almost consistent Forest pressure.
Skipper and centre half Chris Turner superbly marshalled his forces and goalkeeper Eric Steele produced a string of top class saves to keep Posh’s cup ambitions alive.
Even when the Posh were forced to reshuffle ranks at half time following an injury to left back Jeff Lee, Posh’s resolution never wavered.
And substitute John Cozens almost snatched glory for Posh on a couple of occasions in the second half, young Forest keeper Peter Wells making two distinguished saves.
But in the end neither side could resolve the issue at the first attempt although Forest defender Sammy Chapman did have a 17th minute headed goal disallowed for pushing.
Forest did the bulk of the attacking and had an abundance of opportunities, but it would have served as rough justice had the Posh been denied a second bite of the cherry.
Although by no means a cup classic the muddy battle had its gripping moments and none of the large crowd went home disappointed with the goods.
But for the reflexes of Steele, Posh’s cup hopes would have been vanquished in the opening quarter of an hour as Forest plied on the pressure.
With Jeff Lee receiving touch-line treatment for a knee injury. Steele brought the house down in the sixth minute when he pushed away a Bowyer drive.
Three minutes later he blocked a Bowyer effort, with his legs and then turned away a shot from Butlin.
But after Chapman’s header from a McIntosh corner had been cancelled out by referee Richardson, Posh, with David Gregory making a surprise appearance after injury and Mick Jones operating as a fourth midfield player, began to tighten all channels towards their goal.
The threats from wingmen Robertson and McIntosh remained, but Forest raids became less penetrative.
Posh broke well and confidently without managing to offer their 5,000 followers any real hope of a goal.
Posh’s best effort of the first half came from Lyndon Hughes just before the break when his header from a Jon Nixon corner was cleared from the foot of an upright by O’Kane.
The absence of Jeff Lee in the second half forced the Posh reorganise their defences.
Showing the flexibility of the system and players, leading goal scorer Tommy Robson dropped to left back; midfield operator Peter Eustace to right back and Bert Murray adopted a sweeping role behind the solid combination of Chris Turner and Jack Carmichael.
Forest continued to call the tune only to discover the Posh’s re-shaped barrier even more uncooperative with Steele in top form when they managed to breach it.
After Bowyer missed one of Forest’s clear cut chances when heading over McIntosh’s corner, Steele made fine saves from Clark, Butlin and Robertson.
Steele pushed behind Clark’s 20-yard effort after the left back had been allowed to run unchallenged from half way.
Butlin’s attempt was a header from a McIntosh corner after 63 minutes, and three minutes later Steele scrambled round a Robertson drive.
Before Steele’s hat-trick of saves, Forest’s keeper Wells had produced a brilliant save from John Cozens who was continually interchanging striking and midfield duties with a half fit Gregory.
Cozens climbed above the Forest defence after Nixon had touched on a Hughes’ cross to send a powerful header towards the corner of the net. Wells managed to get a hand to the ball, although the referee, much to the bewilderment of the crowd gave a goal kick.
Cozens tested Wells again after 73 minutes with a low shot following a corner which the goalkeeper clutched at the second attempt.
Posh had a couple of close calls in the final minutes, but held on and there was no-one more delighted than coach John Barnwell, a former Nottingham Forest player.
Gate receipts of £22,000 for the game was a ground record beating the previous record set when Portsmouth visited the City Ground for a Sunday FA Cup tie three years earlier. The attendance of 31,525 was the biggest at Forest for two years and was the largest crowd Posh had played in front of since the FA Cup fourth round visit to Sunderland in February 1967.
The Posh: Eric Steele, Bert Murray, Jeff Lee (John Cozens 45 mins), Peter Eustace, Chris Turner, Jack Carmichael, Jon Nixon, David Gregory, Mick Jones, Lyndon Hughes and Tommy Robson.
Nottingham Forest: Wells, O’Kane, Clark, McGovern, Chapman, Bowyer, McIntosh, Bowery, O’Hare, Butlin and Robertson.
Unused Sub: O’Neill