Posh v Fulham FA Cup 3rd Rd Replay – 24 Jan 1959
Venue: London Road
Score: Peterborough Utd 0 v Fulham 1
Referee: T.W. Dawes.
And now for inquest…But first a post mortem examination to find out exactly what caused United to depart so suddenly from all the thrills and excitement of living in this season’s FA Cup competition.
Murdered? No, Fulham were no murderers, in fact all question of foul play can be ruled out – there was none.
Suicide? A possibility, but not quite feasible in view of all United had to live for.
Death by misadventure? Perhaps this is the most apt way in which to describe what happened to Posh in that fateful suspense charged reply.
But verdicts are for coroners and juries. Let’s have a pathological point of view….
The facts…Death occurred shortly after pm on Saturday 24th Jan 1959 as a result of an injury received at about 2.17pm.
The Posh showed signs of a recovery and in fact rallied strongly and responded to treatment for more than an hour afterwards.
Death was caused due to the failure of the defence to recognise the symptoms of a fatal heart attack and use an effective antidote.
The struggle to survive did not succeed because of the ineffectiveness of the forward line whose methods to bring about a complete recovery were misdirected.
However, that was possible was done by the 21,600 attendants at London Road to encourage a recovery.
The afternoon was full of drama from the moment United kicked off and went straight into the attack. They forced the first corner of the game after only 30 seconds and it was only a solo effort by Jimmy Hill which reduced pressure on the visitors’ defence.
United were soon back on the attack, however, Emery only just failed to control the ball when in a position to get in a telling shot.
The first real shock to United’s defensive system came after only seven minutes when Johnny Haynes slid a great pass through to Hill in front of goal. The bearded inside forward let fly with a strong shot, but miraculously Posh’s goalkeeper Jack Walls managed to palm the ball away for a corner.
Two shots from left winger Peter McNamee were deflected for corners and then when Billy Hails tricked Jim Langley, Fulham goalkeeper Tony Macedo had to grope desperately along the goal line to prevent a goal.
It was in attempting to stop Hails that Fulham’s left back Langley sustained a bad injury to his foot. He left the field for treatment, returned to play for a few minutes on the right wing and then finally went off for good.
Fulham re-arranged their team, Cook going into the half back line and Lawler moving to left back.
United piled on the pressure but several minutes before Langley’s final departure from the scene the match was won and lost, Fulham getting in the telling blow.
It was a haphazard affair. Leggat swung over a corner kick and the ball fell at the feet of Hill. The inside forward shot hurriedly for goal, and sliced the ball to Johnson who was smart enough to deflect it past Walls before he could be challenged.
Little did the spectators realise that this tame effort was the vital deciding goal.
United hit back and had Fulham reeling. Shots from Emery and Chadwick were close but there was too much ineffective close passing.
Fulham were unlucky when Walls was beaten by a free kick and Norman Rigby headed off the goal line.
Then came the most incredible miss of the match. Hails cut in from his wing to seize on a loose ball and send in a good low shot. The ball beat Macedo but rebounded into the goalmouth off a post. Rayner rushed in to put the ball into the yawing net but to everyone’s consternation somehow managed to scoop it over the crossbar.
Half time came with United still trying hard to get on level terms and with the Fulham defence getting tighter and stronger with every passing minute.
Posh completely dominated the game in the second half and did everything but score. Rayner went out on the right wing and Hails was moved into the centre.
The move did not come off and United kept plugging away with short passing movements which played straight into the hands of the tightly packed Fulham defence.
What few shots there were, were easily held by Macedo or rebounded to safety off a wall of defenders.
Banham almost upset Fulham’s applecart, however, with a great rising shot from outside the penalty area. The ball beat Macedo and struck the underside of the crossbar to rebound among a group of players in front of goal. Several United forwards kicked out in desperation but the ball was scrambled clear.
And until the dying seconds United tried desperately to rally. One goal would have meant survival . One goal would have been followed by others and then it would have been off to Birmingham and to hang with inquests, post mortems…and clinically minded soccer pathologists.
But it was not United’s day…
The Posh: Jack Walls, Ellis Stafford, Jim Walker, Derek Chadwick, Roy Banham, Norman Rigby, Billy Hails, Dennis Emery, Ray Smith, Jim Rayner and Peter McNamee.
Fulham: Macedo, Langley, Lawler, Leggat, Hill, Cook, Haynes, Johnson, rest unknown.
Goal scorer: Fulham – Johnson.