Posh v Reading FA Cup 2nd Rd 7 Dec 1991
Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 0 v Reading 0
Officials: Roger Wiseman, L.L. Watson and Frazer Stretton.
Posh were brought down to earth in this game and almost out of the FA Cup.
Only mediocre finishing by third division rivals Reading in the first half kept Posh’s hopes alive in this second round tie.
It was not inconceivable that Posh would suffer a reaction from the memorable exploits of the previous Tuesday’s toppling of mighty Liverpool, and the mental, if not physical scars were clearly evident as they struggled to come to terms with what was simply a run of the mill third division clash with the addition of a little cup tinsel.
Many players appeared to be operating almost from memory, especially in the opening half, and, although Posh did step up one or two gears in the second half,they were unable to test the much publicised theory that Jim Leighton, Reading’s on loan goalkeeper from Manchester Utd, is susceptible to pressure.
Scotland’s 1990 Word Cup Finals keeper, now third choice at Old Trafford, never had one save to make, and with Posh central defender David Robinson again his team’s most impressive operator, with chief aide Stve Welsh not far behind him, the facts graphically illustrate the pattern of the match.
Referee Roger Wiseman did his level best to add tothe frustration with some puzzling decisions, one for Posh assistant manager Lil Fuccillo for touchline coaching.
The fact that Reading’s injured player manager Mark McGhee emerged bawling from the dug out with the regularity of a demented jack in the box appeared to go largely unnoticed much to the annoyance of the home fans.
Reading made their intention plain from the first whistle with the adoption of a five man defence, but such was Posh’s fall from even their accepted standards that the visitors were allowed to dominate the first half.
Former Posh favourite Mick Gooding pulled a few strings in midfield in that opening period and created two of at least four clear cut Reading chose to snub – a charitable act they might rue come the replay.
The best fell to young striker Stuart Lovell after only 18 minutes when he raced clear of the defence only to tamely release the ball into the arms of the grateful Fred Barber – perhaps he was bemused by the number of options available as the Posh goalkeeper advanced.
Barber also had to lunge at the same player’s feet minutes later before Robinson cleared the rebound, and Michael Gilkes was also denied by the keeper after a sweeping ball from Gooding had unhinged the defence.
And when Craig Maskell somehow failed to make contact with a Gooding cross from inside the six yard area three minutes before half time one had visions of Posh leaping off the hook and slapping Reading in the face!
Improvement had to be expected in the second half, and when David Riley, later to be substituted by Paul Culpin pinged two half chances just wide of Leighton’s goal, the signs began to point in Posh’s direction.
But it was a stuttering second half show, providing little more than the vain hope of a breakthrough, while Reading could never be overlooked on the break with Gooding, Maskell and substitute Gerry Britton all going close.
Posh defender Steve Welsh’s post match assessmentsummed it all up: “The was a performance that brought us right down to earth.”
Manager Chris Turner was simply counting his blessings: “We are probablt the luckiest team still left in the cup.”
A few hours later the luck ran out when the third round draw threw up a less than appetising trip to third division Bolton for the winner.
The Posh: Fred Barber, Noel Luke, Peter Johnson, Mick Halsall, Dave Robinson, Steve Welsh, Worrell Sterling, Gary Cooper, David Riley (sub Paul Culpin), Ken Charlery and Gary Kimble.
Unused sub: Garry Butterworth.
Reading: Jim Leighton, Scott Taylor, Steve Richardson, Keith McPherson, Ady Williams (sub Gerry Britton), Floyd Streete, Mick Gooding, Danny Bailey, Stuart Lovell, Craig Maskell and Michael Gilkes.
Unused sub: Allan Cockram.
Bookings: Mick Halsall, Lil Fuccillo and David Riley (the Posh), Danny Bailey and Michael Gilkes (Reading).