Spalding Utd v Posh 3rd Qualifying Rd 29 Oct 1938

Venue: Black Swan Ground, Spalding

Attendance: 3,120

Score: Spalding Utd 2 v Peterborough Utd 3

Referee: E. Hancock

Posh brought off a 3-2 victory in the divisional final of this season’s FA Cup competition.

When Macartney scored the winning goal eight minutes from the end, excited Posh supporters rushed on to the pitch and slapped him on the back. It was “Mac’s” second goal in a remarkable game of fluctuating fortunes, and as soon as the final whistle sounded the Posh supporters swarmed on to the pitch again, and this time carried him shoulder high to the dressing room.

Spalding were a hard team to beat, but a 3-2 win does not do the Posh justice. They were worthy winners on a ground that gave them not the slightest help. After seeing the ground it is not hard to understand why Spalding decided not to transfer the game to London Road., despite the bigger financial bait. They considered, very reasonably, that on their own pitch they stood a genuine chance of winning.

The gamble nearly came off, for while the Posh were getting accustomed to the shortness and roughness of the pitch, Spalding scored a goal. But for Harold Smith’s steadiness – and he was well supported from behind by McDonagh – and Dickens’ sure hands, the Posh might have found themselves in serious trouble in the first half hour, when Spalding were employing “shock tactics”.

It took the Posh halves a long time to judge their passes to the wings and down the middle to Macartney, because if the ball was kicked the least bit too hard it would bound away down the short pitch for a goal kick before the forwards could fasten on to it.

Passing was also made difficult by the undulating and bumpy ground.

With Jack Smith out of the game with a shoulder injury there was an obvious weakening of the defence in the early stages, and Compton was anything but steady under sustained Spalding pressure. The Posh began to “find their feet” a quarter of an hour before the interval, and Compton, sharing his colleagues’ self-assurance, improved considerably.

Unfortunately, damage had been done by this time, for in the 17th minute Spalding took the lead. Having saved from Turrell, Dickens dropped to his knees to another shot from Smith , but this time he failed to hold it. Harold Smith bowled over in the rush on the Posh goal, managed to hook the ball away, but Curtis scrambled it into the net.

How Dickens saved the Posh from further disaster in the next quarter of an hour is a mystery. But he did, and when the interval arrived the Posh were on their toes, hitting back and only one goal in arrear.

There were criticisms from the crowd because Sharp was standing too far back. But he played the right game under the circumstances, and, what is more important, he made the most of the openings. When the Posh were on the “kill” Warnes and Harold Smith were well up in the goalmouth for the corners, using their height to advantage, and Rowbotham and Sharp stood back waiting for the loose ball, ready to drive it forward again.

One great shot by Haden crashed against a post with Eagle out of goal, but the ball bounced back into the goalkeepers hands and he was able to clear.

A terrific swing by Fielding from the touchline almost found its mark, and Eagle only just got a fist to it.

The Posh’s equaliser came four minutes after the resumption, the result of a perfect pass by Haden and clever play Macartney, who followed through and shot in as Eagle advanced. Bowater, playing like a man inspired, gave the Posh the lead after 20 minute, but to Macartney goes the credit for “making” the goal. Dribbling out to the right, Macartney suddenly spun on his heel and centred across the goalmouth. Johnson just managed to get his head to the ball, but was unable to deflect it more than an inch or two, and Bowater, cutting in from the left wing, found the far corner of the net from an acute angle.

A quarter of an hour from the end a penalty was awarded against the Posh for “hands” against Warnes, who kept out Turrell’s shot. Hitchbourn’s success from the “spot” brought the teams on level terms again, and Spalding went near to winning while the Posh were recovering from the shock. A long shot from Haney struck the bar, and when the ball rebounded to Curtis he shot straight into Dickens’ hands.

With eight minutes left came the best movement of the match. Bowater secured inside the Posh’s half, dribbled into the middle and slipped the ball out to Fielding. While Fielding, was making ground, Bowater raced back to his position and he took a beautiful centre on his head. He nodded the ball on for Macartney to turn it into the net with the neatest header of the day. It was a grand winning effort.

Views expressed by a Spalding writer were somewhat different, they stated that Spalding should have won the match in the first half when they made the Posh look a very ordinary side – at any rate, one that appeared far below Midland League standard. They went on to say that the Posh were lucky not to be more than one goal down at the interval , were rattled in the first half when Spalding were brilliantly working the ball and shots were only kept out by defenders luckily being in line, Dickens was shaky and it could never be said Spalding were the inferior side.

The receipts for the game were £164 9s. After expenses Posh received £64 1s 4d from the game.


The Posh: Edward Dickens, Charles McDonagh, Walter Compton, Sam Rowbotham, Harold Smith, Sam Haden, Horace Fielding, Arthur Sharp, Charlie MacCartney, George Bowater and Fred Warnes.

Spalding Utd: Eagle, Hitchborn, George Simmonds, Jacklin, Johnson, Hanley, Wilson, Jenkinson, Curtis, Turrell and K. Smith.

Goal scorers: The Posh – Charlie MacCartney (2) 49 mins & 82 mins and George Bowater 65 mins.  Spalding Utd – Curtis 17 mins and Hitchbourn 75 mins.