Friday, 12 February 2016

Sport: P'boro 1-1 WBA

Gonna attempt to start using this blog a little more regularly. Here's some words from when I went to visit Peterborough for the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Proper Replay tie against WBA. I used to be a Young Baggie, don't ya know, so I'm very happy they went through. Nothing to do with the fact I think Peterborough would have decimated us (again).

Reading got incredibly lucky when West Brom managed to overcome League One Peterborough United at the ABAX Stadium (what on Earth is ABAX?) on Wednesday evening. The home side dominated the game, but Angol's missed penalty in the shootout saw the Midland side progress after three-and-a-half hours couldn't decide a clear winner.

London Road - to give it its proper name - is a delicious mix of old and new. The main stand still has wooden seats, the terraced London Road End still packs 2,500, while opposite the brand new Motorpoint stand stands a little brighter - the only downside being the huge Motorpoint logo hanging from its roof (and the fact that the scoreboard's contrasting blue/red made me feel like I was at the optician's).

Fans from Berkshire aren't known for their boisterousness, so it was nice to be amongst slightly more raucous group. They didn't stop singing for over two hours - even when they saw their team lose the lead the reaction was positive. You don't get that much at the Madejski much these days; although admittedly not every game at the Madejski is a midweek fourth round FA Cup replay against beatable Premier League opposition. Plus there's only so much "Fuck off [insert WBA player]" you can take over the course of an evening from the kids stood directly behind you - especially when they can't even properly pronounce McClean.

The game itself was fantastic. West Brom started well, but Peterborough were on top for the majority of the first half. Chris Forrester and West Ham loanee Martin Samuelsen absolutely ran the show for Posh. Jon Taylor, who at only 23 has played over two hundred games, managed to beat Ben Foster early in the second half, and without the Midlands side mustering much of note it seemed likely that Graham Westley's side would be making the 85 mile trip to Reading for the fifth round.

However from there the game evened up again with Saido Berahino starting to have a larger influence as his opposition began to tire. James McClean got his own back for East Anglians mangling his surname as his cross was only half cleared by Forrester straight to Duncan Fletcher, who absolutely smashed home the half-volley. From then it was Pulis' side who pushed for the winner, and only Peterborough's desire to block every shot kept the game level.

Penalties were the decider in the end. Man-of-the-match Samuelsen missed with a poor penalty far too close to Foster, before Fletcher couldn't even find the target. Angol took the last of the ten spot-kicks, but never looked like scoring. His stuttering run-up gave away his nerves, and the weak strike was far too reminiscent of Samuelsen's. West Brom through, but only just.

If 'The Magic of the Cuptm' still exists then it's in nights like these. While the League One outfit may not have been victorious they were the better side - inside a stadium that still has some degree of character, and with incredibly passionate fans right behind them. Peterborough's feat is made more impressive when you take into account that only two of their outfield players are over the age of 23, and it was that energy and fearlessness that was the catalyst for such a performance. In the end, I'm quite glad we'll be playing West Brom in the next round.