Aston Villa v Posh FA Cup 4th Rd Replay – 1 Feb 1961
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Score: Peterborough Utd 1 v Aston Villa 2
Referee: J. Kelly.
Two cannon ball shots from Aston Villa’s Irish international outside left Peter McParland ended Peterborough United’s hopes of a fifth round FA Cup match with Tottenham Hotspur at London Road on February 18th.
Sharp shooting McParland got the goals which gave Villa a 2-1 victory they only just deserved and brought an end United’s magnificent Cup run before the biggest ever crowd to see a floodlit match at Villa Park.
About 10,000 people, including hundreds of bitterly disappointed Posh supporters, were locked out of the Villa ground. They missed the game of a lifetime as Posh gave the First Division team another lesson in Cup fighting, matching everything that Villa could do, and failing only when it came to goal scoring.
Victory went to Villa because they got more goals than Posh, but the honours all went to United who were magnificent in defeat.
Villa made all the running in the opening minutes of the game and very nearly took a shock lead in their first attack when Hitchens saw his shot go inches outside of the post with Walls groping for the ball.
A shot from Emery was deflected for United’s first corner, and it soon became apparent that the home side were not going to have things all their own way. Hails put in a great pass across to McNamee but as the left winger moved in for a shot the whistle went for offside.
And then it was McParland’s turn to give the Posh fans a scare. He was presented with a great opportunity by Hitchens and as he cut in from the wing he unleashed a tremendous shot which Walls blocked with his body but could not hold. The ball was scrambled away but the power of McParland’s shot winded the United keeper and he had to receive attention from Johnnie Anderson.
Walls was soon in the thick of it again when MacEwan ran in with only the Posh goalkeeper to beat. Miraculously Walls got his body in the way of the ball again and the danger was cleared.
After the first quarter of an hour it was obvious that United had weathered the initial onslaught and they settled down to exchange attack for attack. Ray Smith sold the dummy to two defenders as he cut in towards goal, but was unfortunate to be caught off balance when trying his final shot.
Then came another brilliant diving save from Walls, to put a tremendous shot on the run from MacEwan round the post.
Toying every minute of this great struggle and these two great, cup fighting sides gave then something to shout about with “thrill-a-minute” soccer.
The United forwards showed some delightful touches, and only a hairline offside decision saved Villa as Hails tricked Lynn, to give Rayner the chance to put McNamee clear of the defence with a sweeping cross field pass.
But it was the Villa’s long passing movements which kept the Posh defence at full stretch. Wingers McParland and MacEwan were subdued by the United’s full backs but their passing was first class and Hitchens and O’Neill were always dangerous.
Terry Bly was unlucky when he leapt to meet a centre from McNamee, and beat goalkeeper Potter in the air only to see the ball hit a defender and bounce to safety.
Bly nearly intercepted a back pass from Lynn and then for a glorious 90 seconds Posh really turned on the pressure.
They advanced on the Villa goal with a magnificent passing movement and the ball swept backwards and forwards across the penalty area with the home defence lunging desperately at the empty air in their attempts to clear the danger.
At least three shots were blocked by defenders and in this hectic period every Villa player with the exception of Hitchens fell back on defence.
Slowly and surely Posh began to take the upper hand, and Villa had to resort to doubtful tactics, McParland “falling” twice in succession in the penalty area in a bid to impress the referee.
With the minutes ticking away to half time United made a glorious effort to get in front and Dugdale was forced to head over his own cross bar to prevent a goal.
Within four minutes of the re-start however, Villa snatched the lead. There seemed to be little threat of danger as O’Neill advanced down the right with the ball, but the inside forward’s centre curling surprisingly out of the reach of the Posh defence and Walls was left stranded well out of his goal as McParland brought the ball under control and flashed a great shot into the corner of the unguarded net.
It was a splendid goal, so methodically executed and so cunningly designed to throw Posh out of their stride.
But United were far from dismayed. Their answer was to increase pressure on the suspect Villa goalkeeper Potter and in this they so very nearly succeeded when a free kick from Ripley swerved only inches outside an upright.
Potter was again left groping for the ball in the air from McNamee’s corner kick and although Emery tried to tee the ball up by heading it down to Bly the centre forward’s shot was deflected for yet another corner kick.
Villa began to lose their poise and Ripley took advantage of several free kicks to give Potter a worrying time.
On one occasion Bly and Smith bustled the young goalkeeper over the line with the ball but the referee awarded a free kick to Villa.
Then came United’s smartest attacking move of the game. Every member of the forward line came into action as the ball went out to Hails for the final shot. Billy was the unluckiest player afield when his shot rebounded from Potter, hit the onrushing Dugdale and went out for a corner.
A similar incident in the first game produced Villa’s equaliser.
From the corner kick however, the ball came out to McNamee who promptly punted it over the heads of the Villa defence into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
It’s doubted if ever before a goal has been scored by a visiting team at Villa Park has been so loudly cheered.
But as in the last game, United’s moment of triumph was a fleeting one. Within 50 seconds Villa had snatched what proved to be the winning goal.
The ball bobbed about in the Posh penalty area and McParland seemed to be a couple of yards offside as he popped up on the right wing to blast yet another shot into the back of the net.
A moment’s hesitation because they suspected McParland was offside cost United dear. It was a lucky goal and it was a pity that it should be the one to separate the victors from vanquished
It was also a pity McParland had to be the scorer. This petulant Irishman spent the remainder of the game behaving like a spoiled child. If there had to be a winning goal then the man who deserved to score it was hard working Hitchens.
But there were 28 minutes left for United to make amends, and they set about their task with a new enthusiasm and a new spirit which had Villa reeling for many anxious minutes.
Terry Bly was desperately unlucky with a split second header, over the crossbar, and Rayner’s long shot found its way into the shaky arms of Potter.
Ripley moved up with the attack and it was soon obvious that Potter was the one weak link in the Villa rearguard. Posh gave him a tremendous pounding but he was the luckiest chap at Villa Park.
On one occasion he fumbled a free kick from Hails and Lynn had to boot the ball off the goal line.
Then the time wasting tactics began. Villa clung desperately to their slender lead and with Roy Banham playing the game of his life they seemed unlikely to score again.
Posh threw in everything in the closing minutes of the game, but the Villa defenders hacked away unmercifully at everything above ground level and hopes of a last minute “miracle” goal by United faded in a spate of gamesmanship from the home side.
And as the final whistle went the score was the only tangible evidence that Villa were the victors.
To say that Villa were lucky to win is not quite the truth. It is better to say that in everything but goal scoring Posh were equally as good as the First Division side.
Better still to be able to say that even in defeat Posh were magnificent.
The Posh: Jack Walls, Dick Whittaker, Jim Walker, Jim Rayner, Roy Banham, Keith Ripley, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Terry Bly, Ray Smith and Peter McNamee.
Aston Villa: Fred Potter, John Neal, Stam Lynn, Vic Crowe, Jimmy Dugdale, Bobby Thomson, Jimmy MacEwan, Alan O’Neill, Gerry Hitchens, Ron Wylie and Peter McParland.
Goal scorers: The Posh – Peter McNamee. Aston Villa – Peter McParland (2) 49 mins and 62 mins.