Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Score: Peterborough Utd 2 v Newcastle Utd 4
Referee: Neale Barry
Thirty years on from Newcastle United’s definitive FA Cup upset on the mud of Hereford’s Edgar Street, the five-time winners of the trophy survived a similar surface and an almost comparable shock at London Road. But only just.
In a classic, wet, gloomy, muck-and-nettles Cup atmosphere, Peterborough United, two goals down at half-time and 56 places and two divisions below Newcastle, staged a comeback that had memories of Hereford flooding back for all who think in black and white, stripes or eras.
A walloping own-goal from the Newcastle centre-half Andy O’Brien began Posh’s revival eight minutes after the interval, and 16 minutes later Dave Farrell, cut in from the touchline and carved his name on the old competition with a 20-yard shot that beat the outstretched right hand of Shay Given. London Road was in euphoric turmoil and about to be twinned with Edgar Street.
Barry Fry’s spunky side sensed history, especially when the former Tottenham Hotspur forward Neale Fenn was released by Farrell with 13 minutes to go. Fenn was behind the Newcastle defence and one on one with Given. His flicked effort was true but Given managed to get his left hand to it.
“We were a long way from Cardiff when Fenn went through,” the Newcastle manager Bobby Robson said afterwards to a question about Newcastle’s chances of winning the Cup again. “But we showed character and resilience. Peterborough did themselves proud today and I’m a bit sad that they haven’t got a replay at St James’. Sad but glad.”
Fry estimated that a replay would have earned Peterborough another £500,000 to add to that sum they earned yesterday. But it was snatched away in a fashion that Fry described as “cruel”. Just over five frenetic minutes had passed from Given’s save – a period that included an agonisingly close chip from Peterborough’s Andy Clarke – when an Alan Shearer header from Nolberto Solano’s free-kick bounced on to the arm of Leon McKenzie.
The contact was hardly deliberate but Neale Barry pointed to the spot and Shearer struck an emphatic penalty past Mark Tyler. He blew his cheeks out at that and a minute later was joined by all at Newcastle when the unlikely figure of Aaron Hughes met a deft cross from Wayne Quinn to make it 4-2.
Peterborough’s time had gone but they still enjoyed the moment. A standing ovation was the minimum they deserved, not least for the adventure they had shown. Prompted by the quick-quick passes of the local hero Jimmy Bullard, the home side overcame the early setback of O’Brien’s goal.
In the opneing moments of the match Bobby Robson’s team looked lively and Shearer wasted an opportunity on 3 minutes when Andy Edwards failed to clear the danger, but the ex-England international scuffed his effort wide of the goal.
Posh made a swift response and from a Jimmy Bullard corner and McKenzie had an effort cleared off the line by Sylvain Distin as the London Road crowd turned up the volume.
Mark Tyler was called into action on 15 minutes, tipping a fierce Olivier Bernard drive round the post.
However from the resulting corner O’Brien swivelled on to a Distin header and nudged the ball past Tyler. That should have settled the visitors but, missing Kieron Dyer, Gary Speed and Robert Lee from their midfield, they struggled to match Bullard and co.
A golden chance for Posh to level the scores came on 19 minutes when McKenzie turned Distin 25 yards out but his low drive scraped the outside of the far post.
A Bullard corner was well cleared by Distin and moments later Tom Williams arrows a stinging effort narrowly wide of the goal as Newcastle were beginning to rattle. Bullard then shaved a post with a whipped free-kick.
Just as Posh were starting to inject fear into their opponents and just two minutes before the break, Jamie McClen, a fringe member of the squad playing in his first league or cup game for more than two years, scored his first goal for the club with a cool, clipped finish after a fortunate ricochet.
“Whatever Barry Fry said to them at half-time worked,” said Shearer.
Within four minutes of the re-start Marc Joseph pelted down the right and delivered a cross to the far post. O’Brien was under no pressure but placed a bullet header past Given, quite unbelievably.
“Andy’s just said they will be showing that on Match of the Day tonight,” said Shearer. “I said to him that they’ll be showing it in 40 years.”
Play began to swing with such energy that Farrell’s equaliser came from a thwarted Newcastle attack. Bullard began it; Farrell finished it. Fry was asked the score by the fans and put two fingers from each hand in the air repeatedly.
Sadly it was Fry and Peterborough who had been told where to go.
Shearer had a header cleared off the line on 83 minutes and from the resulting scramble McKenzie was adjudged to have handled the ball.The ex-England international stepped up and dispatched the spot kick past the unlucky Tyler.
Moments later it was four for the Magpies. Substitute Wayne Quinn delivered the the ball into a crowded area and Hughes leapt at the far post to plant a header past Tyler to give the score an unflattering look.
“There is no better duo than Bobby Robson and Alan Shearer to win the FA Cup,” said Fry. “They are a credit to the game. Lucky bastards.”
The game as well as being on Sky Sports TV which brought much needed money into the club, generated a record £216,000 receipts.
The Posh: Mark Tyler, Marc Joseph, Simon Rea, Andy Edwards, David Farrell, Andy Clarke, Tom Willaims, Jimmy Bullard, Leon McKenzie, Neale Fenn and Richard Forsyth.
Subs: Dean Hooper, Howard Forinton and David Oldfield for Simon Rea, Neale Fenn and Richard Forsyth.
Unused subs: Dan Connor, Jon Cullen.
Newcastle Utd: Shay Given, Robbie Elliott, Norberto Solano, Andy O’Brien, Clarence Acuna, Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Aaron Hughes, Jamie McClen (sub Brian Kerr), Sylvain Distin and Olivier Bernard (sub Wayne Quinn).
Unused subs: Andy Griffin, Steve Harper, Shola Ameobi.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Andy O’Brien (own goal) 52 mins and David Farrell 69 mins. Newcastle Utd – Andy O’Brien 14 mins, Jamie McClen 43 mins, Alan Shearer (pen) 84 mins and Aaron Hughes 85 mins.
Bookings: Simon Rea, Andy Edwards (Posh), Clarence Acuna (Newcastle Utd)