Chesterfield v Posh League Division 4 – 11 May 1991
Venue: Recreation Ground, Chesterfield
Score: Chesterfield 2 v Peterborough Utd 2
Referee: C. Trussell
Posh are back in the 3rd Division, courtesy of the unsuspecting head of full back George Berry 17 minutes from time, and a few friends down the road at Walsall.
The Posh gave themselves a mountain to climb after conceding two goals inside the opening nine minutes at Chesterfield before even some of the 5,000 Posh fans had managed to get into the ground.
But they produced a second half show of courage and commitment to snatch the all-important point required to take advantage of Blackpool’s demise in the Black Country and bring back Division 3 football to London Road for the first time in 12 years.
At the final whistle, thousands of ecstatic Posh fans poured onto the pitch to carry their heroes shoulder high to the dressing room.
Champagne corks popped as the players returned to the directors box to receive their acclaim from the fans, a considerable number probably in nappies when Posh last enjoyed such glorious celebrations 17 years ago.
And as the players returned to the bowels of the Saltergate ground to savour a moment many were experiencing for the first time in their career, one of the first into the dressing room to give manager Chris Turner a congratulatory hug was Noel Cantwell.
He was the manager when Posh won the 4th Division title in 1974 when Turner was a key figure at the centre of the defence – a case of the master acknowledging the incredible success that his pupil achieved in just four months at London Road.
As the convoy of Posh fans snaked their way back to continue celebrations closer to home, with scarves flowing in the breeze out of car windows, horns honking in salute, Chesterfield followers, dwarfed in a season’s best 8,800 crowd could probably recall their own pitch tributes 12 months ago when their team clinched a play-off victory over Grimsby Town on the final day, ironically as a direct result of Posh’s 2-0 home defeat by Southend Utd!
But this was Posh’s day even though for the first time in the dramatic promotion race, their destiny disappeared from their own hands and they had to rely on the failure of another.
Chesterfield, 10 wins in the last 17 games, did present a tough final hurdle, but Posh slipped up coming out of the parade ring, and plans for next Sunday’s play-off trip were already on fans’ minds within a disastrous opening nine minutes.
Chris McMenemy’s side were ahead inside three minutes when a pinpoint Dave Caldwell cross was headed in by an unchallenged Calvin Plummer.
Six minutes later inadequate defending again allowed Sean Dyche to force home the second with David Robinson, Berry and goalkeeper Paul Bradshaw spectators.
Posh gradually pulled themselves together and for the tail end of the first half and for the whole of the second, Chesterfield were playing second fiddle in terms of possession, with Bradshaw virtually unemployed.
But for all their dominance, they were unable to produce the right quality of service into the danger zone and therefore had problems in countering Chesterfield’s sweeper system.
A drive from Darren Morgan was Posh’s only direct attempt on gaol in the first half, but there were times in the second period when Noel Luke in particular got round the back of the defence without managing to produce the killer ball.
The light at the end of the tunnel came 10 minutes into the second half when Robinson headed home powerfully from a Luke corner.
The equaliser came in the 73rd minute when Berry back headed a Worrell Sterling cross; substitute Paul Culpin failed to get a touch but the ball gently rolled inside the far post, possibly sucked in by the massed ranks of Posh fans behind the goal.
For the last 10 minutes Posh kept possession, having been fed news of Blackpool’s score by Chesterfield substitute Bryn Gunn, the former Posh defender relaying the information to skipper Mick Halsall on his entry into the proceedings 13 minutes from time.
One Posh banner summed it all up: ‘PERFICK POSH’.
The Posh: Paul Bradshaw, George Berry, Garry Butterworth, Phil Crosby, Noel Luke, Mick Halsall, David Robinson, Worrell Sterling, Darren Morgan, David Riley (sub Paul Culpin) and Pat Gavin (sub Kevin Bremner).
Chesterfed: Leonard, Brien, Ryan, Rolph, Rogers, McGugan, Dyche, Caldwell (sub Benjamin) , Plummer, Hewitt and Williams (sub Gunn).
Bookings: McGugan (Chesterfield).
Goal scorers: The Posh – David Robinson 55 mins and George Berry 73 mins. Chesterfield – Calvin Plummer 3 mins and Sean Dyche 9 mins.