Posh v Swansea City FA Cup 14 Nov 1997
Venue: Vetch Field, Swansea
Score: Peterborough Utd 4 v Swansea City 1
Referee: A.G. Wiley.
All of a sudden Mark Tyler is worth £5 million, Steve Castle is the best leader of men since Churchill and Jimmy Quinn will still be banging them in when he’s 50.
Welcome back to the slightly mad, but hugely entertaining, make believe world inhabited only by Barry Fry, the massed media ranks and a few fairies.
It only takes one splendid win to get the master of exaggeration up and running, to the obvious delight, it has to be said, of his captive audience.
But, on this occasion, who could blame Fry for his hectic hyperbole.
The Posh manager called for a performance of style to set before a live television audience and his players delivered in tremendous fashion – round two of the FA Cup can rarely have been reached so impressively.
“They did all I asked f them,” Fry conceded. “And then they did some more. We have let our standards slip in recent weeks, but this was back to form with a vengeance.
And so it was. A 4-1 score line accurately reflected the level of Posh command and Swansea inferiority on one of those rare nights when 11 players clicked together.
Captain Castle will deservedly take most of the plaudits for his two well taken goals, but goalkeeper Tyler’s heroic saves and yet more meaningful contributions from goal aces Martin Carruthers and Jimmy Quinn will also warrant attention.
Quinn had already missed one good chance (after a lovely little Carruthers lay off) before putting Posh ahead with a dipping 25 yard strike that took a slight deflection in the 25th minute.
And seven minutes later the Northern Ireland centre forward headed Scott Houghton’s left wing cross back across goal for Castle to convert from close range.
A two goal lead was the least Posh merited for a display of total control (a mammoth 61% possession in the first half according to Sky television’s box of tricks), although fortune also played a part in the interval score line.
Just after Castle’s first strike, Tony Bird twice struck a post, Tyler saved brilliantly from Mark Clode and Aidan Newhouse was denied only to a Chris Menamin back heel on the goal line – all in the same attack.
Tyler again stood up bravely to deny Bird and Richard Appleby in quick succession at the start of the second half as Swansea began to revel in the space left behind by Neil Lewis.
And it came as no surprise when Appleby reduced the arrears with 20 minutes remaining after a long free kick wasn’t cleared properly.
Thankfully Castle promptly headed home a Houghton free kick and Carruthers ensured a realistic final score line with a left foot finish from 20 yards two minutes from time.
Quinn may have had a second goal, but his chip with Swansea keeper Roger Freestone out of his goal failed to clear Christian Edwards, while his side foot volley from Dave Farrell’s cross whizzed past a post.
It was certainly an emphatic response to the miserable home displays of the previous weeks.
Swansea, who had kept three clean sheets in their four previous matches, willingly surrendered possession and territory in the expectation of repelling attacks at the edge of the penalty area and striking on the break.
But Posh passed the ball at pace and with accuracy to render such tactics worthless.
The only surprise about the first goal was the wait, such was the determination of all involved and the mobility of those up front.
Castle won some crunching tackles, while Lewis and McMenamin’s availability and comfort on the ball ensured regular outlets on the wings. Lewis was at his mercurial best, until the management team lost patience with a left back, who dribbled like Maradona, while defending like Madonna.
The change didn’t matter. Posh exerted so much control that frustration on the terraces (and there are obviously some wild lads in Swansea) soon spread to the pitch where Appleby was dismissed at the death for a wild lunge at McMenamin a matter of minutes after a similar foray on Houghton.
Even that and the subsequent crowd demonstration against the Swansea board didn’t ruffle Fry. He was too busy talking up his team, the Posh fans and owner Peter Boizot to anyone with a microphone.
It’s Mr Boizot’s birthday tomorrow, but Posh have managed to solve the eternal riddle of what to give the man who has everything.
This performance should suffice.
The Posh: Mark Tyler, Chris McMenamin, Neil Lewis (sub Des Linton), Steve Castle (sun Wayne Bullimore), Mick Bodley, Andy Edwards, David Farrell, Derek Payne, Martin Carruthers, Jimmy Quinn and Scott Houghton.
Unused subs: Miguel De Souza, Bart Griemink, Peter Shearer.
Swansea City: Roger Freestone, Jason Price, Mark Clode (sub Kwame Ampadu), Keith Walker, Christian Edwards, Nick Cusack, Jonathan Coates, Aidan Newhouse (sub Steve Watkin), Tony Bird (sub Mainwaring), Richard Appleby and Kristian O’Leary.
Unused subs: Ryan Casey and Damien Lacey.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Jimmy Quinn 25 mins, Steve Castle (2) 32 mins & 71 mins and Martin Carruthers 88 mins. Swansea City – Richard Appleby 69 mins.
Bookings: Andy Edwards and Steve Castle (Posh). Richard Appleby (twice) and Kristian O’Leary (Swansea).
Sending off: Richard Appleby (Swansea).