Posh v Middlesbrough FL Cup Quarter Final 8 Jan 1992
Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 0 v Middlesbrough 0
Referee: David Elleray (Harrow).
Posh’s romantic cup adventure still has at least another chapter remaining in this book of Wembley dreams.
The fairy-tale didn’t quite produce the happy ending last night amid the colourful firecrackers, the pageantry, the pulsating atmosphere and the lashing rain. But Posh are in the semi-final draw with the big boys for the first time in more than 26 years and guaranteed another bumper pay cheque from a second dice with Middlesbrough.
And whatever the eventual outcome against the second division promotion chasers – they are unbeaten at Ayresome Park this season – the boys from the blue stuff have done the club proud!
Three times the woodwork may have come to their rescue, but it would have been cruel had their bold show of commitment not earned a second bite at the potential luscious cherry.
There were moments in the first half when Posh raised the decibel level of expectation with openings that never quite produced the telling repost. They dug the odd channel through the wholly committed Middlesbrough defensive barrier, but enthusiasm overruled quality on the majority of occasions to the point that they managed only one decisive attempt on goal.
And in the second half Middlesbrough gradually extracted the sting from Posh’s tail, stamped their authority on proceedings and Chris Turners game battlers were indebted to a super glue strength to bond together a clean sheet for the third consecutive tie.
Dave Robinson and Steve Welsh were immoveable figures at the heart of the defence; Noel Luke produced one of the most impressive display of his lengthy Posh career and recalled full back Peter Johnson made some timely interventions to thwart the club which provided him with his first break.
Skipper Mick Halsall and Gary Cooper, just back from a debilitating illness, worked like Trojans in the engine room in a bid to keep Posh on the advance, but a lack of quality and threat in the final third of the field did more than most to frustrate attempts to achieve the vital breakthrough.
Six corners to three in Posh’s favour in the first half accurately reflected the slight edge the 40 -1 cup outsiders achieved. But a seven to one count to the northern raiders after the break summed up the way they later asserted their character on affairs, thus supporting post-match theories that a second instalment was about the right conclusion.
Posh could have thrown Middlesbrough calculations into the melting pot inside four minutes had David Riley, presented with space on the edge of the penalty area and not dragged his shot narrowly wide.
But warnings of Middlesbrough ‘s capabilities were illuminated in their first real attack after 11 minutes when Bernie Slaven flicked a John Hendrie cross against an upright via the out-stretched fingers of goalkeeper Fred Barber, although there was a suggestion of an offside flag against the visiting intruder.
They hit the woodwork again four minutes before half time when a drive from the talented Stuart Ripley deflected off Noel Luke’s lunging body and to safety via the angle of post and upright much to the relief of Posh’s vociferous contingent in the 15,302 crowd – the biggest for more than five years.
In between Posh probably flattered to deceive, making deep inroads at times into the Middlesbrough defensive ranks without fulfilling the promise.
Worrell Stirling appeared caught between two stalls when put in the clear by Ken Charlery, but he elected to cross rather than attempt the angled drive and the chance went begging.
It was rather indicative of Posh’s problems up front that it was 66minutes before Middlesbrough goal-keeper Stephen Pears was seriously concerned when he smothered a drive from Charlery.
Barber had problems himself saving at the second attempt a long range dip from young Jamie Pollock just two minutes into the second period and as Middlesbrough went for the jugular, the Posh ‘keeper dived full length to turn away a thunderbolt from Hendrie instigated from Riley’s mazy run.
Paul Culpin replaced Riley 14 minutes from the end by which time Posh fans were probably accepting that the best they could hope for was a glimpse of the northern lights in two weeks’ time.
Those though almost went out five minutes from time when top scorer Paul Wilkinson volleyed against the Posh bar after skipper Alan Kernaghan had diverted a corner beyond the far post. Bit Posh survived to fight another day, and deserved so even though luck played a more prominent role than in the previous round triumph over Wimbledon, Newcastle and Liverpool.
Posh: Fred Barber, Noel Luke, Peter Johnson, Mick Halsall, Dave Robinson, Steve Welsh, Worrell Sterling, Gary Cooper, Ken Charlery, David Riley (sub Paul Culpin) and Gary Kimble.
Unused sub: Marcus Ebdon
Middlesbrough: Pears, Parkinson, Mohan, Kernaghan, Phillips, Hendrie, Mustoe, Pollock, Ripley, Slaven and Wilkinson.
Unused subs: Fleming and Arnold.
Bookings: Kimble (foul), Johnson (foul).