Wycombe Wanderers v Posh FA Cup 2nd Rd 12 Dec 1990
Venue: Adams Park, High Wycombe
Score: Wycombe Wanderers 1 v Peterborough Utd 1
Referee: I.J. Borrett.
The reflexes of Posh goalkeeper Paul Bradshaw and the reaction of substitute Paul Culpin combined in this match to keep Posh’s FA Cup hopes alive.
It left part-timers Wycombe Wanderers wondering, especially Posh reject Nicky Evans, why a second round replay is necessary.
And they’ll probably live to regret not claiming their tickets to Port Vale in the opening few minutes and then failing to cash in during the last 18 when Posh were reduced to ten men with player-coach Gerry McElhinney having been sent off for a professional indiscretion.
Posh owed more to their resilience than football science in the way they scrapped their way out of a tight corner to salvage a second chance.
Battered close to submission in the opening half an hour, they extracted themselves off the ropes only to face survival again after being caught by a low blow early in the second half at a stage when they appeared to be coming to terms with the situation.
An early onslaught was to be anticipated from the GM Vauxhall Conference side, but the ferocity and quality of it must have surprised even the most battled hardened Posh player.
The sense of relief that Posh were still standing on their feet after the initial burst which could have produced at least two goals in the first nine minutes was probably heard back at London Road.
Evans, rejected by Posh 12 years ago after spending a frustrating season in the reserves, waged almost a one man crusade in a bid to make a rather belated point.
Twice in three minutes he was denied by the brilliance of Bradshaw; a third effort was blocked by the ‘keepers legs before being hacked away and when the Posh saviour was finally beaten in the 29th minute there was Worrell Sterling to clear off the line.
A dozen first half corners for Wycombe underlined the kind of pressure inflicted on their fourth division rivals, but as half time approached one could sense that the non-leaguers storm had blown out and that Posh were gradually imposing themselves on the contest.
Ironically, Wycombe’s goal after 58 minutes came rather against the run of play and then Martin Blackler’s finish to a well constructed move took a deflection off the luckless McElhinney and beyond the reach of Bradshaw.
But three minutes after being thrown into the fray, top scorer Paul Culpin produced one of his typically spectacular finishes in the 69th minute, a first time volley from just inside the penalty area after Noel Luke’s free kick had skimmed off the head of central defender Glyn Creaser.
From that stage Posh encountered few problems maintaining the status quo even after McElhinney got an early bath for the first time in his career for hauling back Mark West in the 72nd minute as the striker beared down on goal.
Having survived such a torrid adventure, the way is now open for Posh to continue their FA Cup expedition into the New Year when even a trip to second division Port Vale couldn’t be as traumatic as that opening half hour at Adams Park.
The Posh: Paul Bradshaw, Noel Luke, Phil Crosby, Mick Halsall, Keith Oakes, Gerry McElhinney, Worrell Sterling, Mark Hine, Kevin Bremner (sub Paul Culpin 66 mins), David Riley and Garry Butterworth.
Unused sub: George Berry.
Wycombe Wanderers: Granville, Whitby (sub Ryan 87 mins), Walford, Crossley, Creaser, Carroll, Blackler, Stapleton (sub Smith 83 mins), West, Evans and Hutchinson.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Paul Culpin 69 mins. Wycombe Wanderers – Martin Blackler 58 mins.
Cautions: Smith (Wycombe Wanderers)
Sending Off: Gerry McElhinney (The Posh)