Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 2 v Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Referee: Joe Worrall.
It was a memorable day for the Posh. Their best crowd for five years, record gate receipts of some £50,000 – and a performance which really merited a place in the last eight of the FA Cup.
However, Greig Shepherd, scorer of one of Posh’s two goals, afterwards compared this match to Bambi on ice.
Chris Cattlin, a manager thankful his second division side are still left in the FA Cup, likened it to the Torvill and Dean show.
John Wile, a composed 38 year old centre half and Posh boss, remembered the olden days when football was often played on a snow blanket.
A standing ovation from all four corners of London Road and mutual applause from the players summed up this thrilling fifth round tie.
And amind all the bally-hoo over whether the game should have gone ahead let’s remember it was the same for both sides and that osh adapted better.
Twice they struck an icy foot into the last eight of soccer’s most prestigious showpiece only to see the door slammed in their faces by hard pressed Brighton.
Seven minutes was all that separated Posh from their greatest hour fater goals from Shepherd and transfer listed Errington Kelly.
Yet though the Seagulls had been stunned and dazed they scrambled home an 83rd minute second equaliser from Steve Jocobs to necessitate the stagingof act two at the Goldstone.
A South Coast jaunt though looked to have been the last possibility as Shepherd sparked off a crazy 10 minute second half spellwhich produced a four goal avalanche.
He rose majestically to an innocent looking Garry Worrall free kick and powered home a header past Brighton keeper Perry Digweed.
The Posh cheers were stifled within 90 seconds as Brighton struck back with a Dean Saunders goal that had more than a hint of offside about it.
But Brighton had reckoned without the genius of Kelly and the invariable bounce of the snow bound pitch.
There looked no danger when Kelly got the better of Eric Young in an aerial dual and took a speculative 25 yard ground shot in the 78th minute.
Digweed sprawled to his right but could only look upwards in agony as the ball rocketed off a divot and rose six feet into the net.
Equally cruel was Brighton’s equaliser courtesy of a wicked deflection off right back Alan Paris five minutes later.
Jacobs, brought on for the ineffective Justin Fashanu early in the second half, miscued his shot on the edge of the area though his frustration quickly turned to exstacy as the ball bobbled into the net.
Keeper Mike Astbury’s despair served only to grow as he watched and re-watched a video of the incident seeing the ball squirt off Paris.
To coin a television programme, rough justice for John Wile’s hardy battlers.
Justice made even harder to bear after the sickening first minute incident when Shepherd was felled by Digweed.
A splendid through ball had set Shepherd clear bu as he slipped the ball past the keeper for a certain goal he was tripped up a yard outside of the box.
Referee Worrall, who handled the game well otherwise, contented himself with booking keeper though all Posh fans will remember earlier in the season John Turner being sent off for a similar professional foul.
The incident seemed to unnerve Digweed as he went on to make several mistakes in the face of some fierce Posh pressure.
As is so often the case the smaller side relished the far from perfect pitch while the bigger club shied away from it.
Battling like tigers, the Posh players tore into their opponents and a gap of two divisions was nowhere to be seen.
As Brighton struggled to find their footing, Fuccillo, Shepherd and Worrall all tested Digweed.
But the keeper came to the rescue in the 34th minute when centre half Trevor Slack played a neat one two with Shepherd and Digweed blocked vthe resulting shot from point blank range.
But though the Brighton defence was struggling, Posh’s well oiled back four was running perfectly. Wile was perfection itself, coolly and calmly mopping up any potential danger and keeping a tight rein on the likes of Connor and Fashanu.
And on the rare occasion Brighton did engineer a clear cut chance Fashanu not only volleyed over from eight yards he very nearly cleared the London Road stand!
Andy Kowalski, meanwhile, led from the front in midfield, revelling in his battle with old Chesterfield team mate Danny Wilson.
The Posh: Mike Astbury, Alan Paris, Martin Pike, Francis Cassidy, John Wile, Trevor Slack, Andy Kowalski, Lil Fuccillo, Errington Kelly, Greig Shepherd and Garry Worrall.
Unused sub: Jackie Gallagher.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Digweed, Hutchings, Pearce, Wilson, Young, O’Reilly, Saunders, Penney, Fashanu (sub Jacobs), Connor and Mortimer.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Greig Shepherd 73 mins and Errington Kelly 78 mins. Brighton & Hove Albion – Saunders 75 mins and Jacobs 83 mins.
Caution: Digweed (Brighton & Hove Albion)