Reading v Posh FA Cup 2nd Rd Replay 17 Dec 1991
Venue: Elm Park, Reading
Score: Reading 1 v Peterborough Utd 0
Officials: Roger Wiseman, G.C. Monk, M.D. Dearing and M. Wyvill.
Posh’s unbeaten romantic cup adventure finally ended in despair with a needless slip at the tenth hurdle.
Reading achieved what the likes of Wimbledon, Newcastle and Liverpool failed to do in cup battles this season, but once again Posh could only admonish themselves for straying off the FA Cup trail after this second round replay.
Substitute Steve Lovell settled the proceedings just 18 minutes from time from w0hat was Reading’s first chance of a tie totally dominated by Posh for the first hour.
Little wonder Posh manager Chris Turner shook his head in disbelief as he boarded the bus home.
Football can be a cruel game at times and the margin between success and failure so thin.
Posh should have been planning the third round trip to Bolton long before their third division rivals broke the deadlock after almost three hours of football.
They spurned at least three gilt edged chances, two inside the opening 16 minutes, and then had a blatant penalty for hands rejected in the dying seconds as they attempted to take the match into overtime and possible a penalty shoot-out.
But as Turner rightly pointed out: “You can moan about the referee over that penalty decision or claim we were unlucky because we had enough chances to have won two or three games. It was one of those games when I just didn’t know what to say afterwards to the players because they had all played as well at times as at any other time since I took over without sticking the ball into the net.”
But Posh have failed to score in their last three games, and that’s a worrying sign as they enter the New Year without the capital to try and buy a solution.
The sign of things to come emerged after only five minutes when Ken Charlery sent an angled drive wide with former Scotland goalkeeper Jim Leighton stranded after Gary Cooper had scooped the ball into the box.
Then in the 16th minute Posh seemed certain to score when David Riley, latching onto a defence splitting ball from Charlery, pushed the ball past the advancing Leighton.
Mick Halsall came steaming in to apply the finishing touch, but somehow a desperate lunge from Reading’s Keith McPherson forced the Posh skipper to slide the ball wide.
“I thought David was going to score without my help, but just as I lunged in, the defender’s boot caught mine and the ball flew wide,” explained Halsall.
That incident was to sum up Posh’s night in front of goal.
They continued to assert their authority, balls continually flashed across the
Reading goal but Posh couldn’t find the killer touch.
And when Gary Kimble lashed wide a volley from barely seven yards out just five minutes into the second half, one could almost predict the eventual outcome.
Minutes later Halsall thumped a 20 yard drive straight into the arms of Leighton, a yard either side and the Manchester Utd loanee wouldn’t have smelt it!
But 18 minutes from the end, with Posh’s game just getting a little ragged round the edges, probably through frustration more than anything else, the inevitable happened.
A driving run from right back Scott Taylor ended with Craig Maskell bringing a superb save out of goalkeeper Fed Barber but substitute Lovell, who had missing some glaring chances in the first meeting at London Road, dived to head in the rebound.
Four minutes later Maskell hit a post as Posh started to chase the game, and Turner threw on both his substitutes, Paul Culpin and Marcus Ebdon, 13 minutes from time in a last dramatic throw.
Action was thick and fast in the dying moments with formwe Posh favourite Mick Gooding almost heading a Riley shot into his own net.
From the resultant corner Floyd Streete forced the ball off the line and it was the ensuing scramble that Posh claimed their penalty when Steve Richardson appeared to sweep the ball away from the danger zone.
Culpin was not in any doubt about the penalty: “He clearly pushed the ball away with his arm as I was attempting to line up a shot,” he claimed.
As Posh protested, Reading broke away and Barber blocked a Michael Gilkes shot with his legs, leaving Maskell to fire the rebound over the bar.
Seconds earlier Barber had been booked for bringing down Gilkes almost on the touchline after venturing from his goal when he sprung the offside trap.
So the end of the road came for Posh in the FA Cup, but there’s still plenty at stake in the New Year as the words from one of the tapes constantly reminded us on the return journey: “Always look on the bright side of life.”
The Posh: Fred Barber, Noel Luke, Peter Johnson, Mick Halsall, Dave Robinson, Steve Welsh, Worrell Sterling, Gary Cooper, David Riley, Ken Charlery and Gary Kimble.
Subs: Marcus Ebdon and Paul Culpin for Gary Cooper and Gary Kimble.
Reading: Jim Leighton, Scott Taylor, Steve Richardson, Keith McPherson, Ady Williams, Floyd Streete, Mick Gooding, Danny Bailey, Gerry Britton (sub Stuart Lovell), Craig Maskell and Michael Gilkes.
Unused sub: Allan Cockram.
Goal scorers: Reading – Steve Lovell 72 mins.
Booking: Fred Barber (the Posh).