FA Cup, 2nd round report: ‘Magic’ is over-rated. If Paul Daniels can make a fortune from it, it must be a tainted power.
Certainly no-one at Peterborough United buys into ‘the magic of the FA Cup’ cliche. Not any more. Not after they bowed out of the so-called most exciting knock-out competition in the world following 90 minutes of torpor and five minutes of complete and utter mayhem which included Posh failing to convert a penalty, hitting the crossbar from six yards and then conceding a winning goal to a team who had lost their last match 6-0 and who hadn’t kept a single clean sheet in their previous 12 matches.
Colchester ‘keeper Sam Walker saved a Conor Washington spot-kick back in August, but Aaron Mclean’s strike from 12 yards was much better struck and much better directed, yet the giant number one got down impressively to his right to pull off a fine save.
Christian Burgess promptly headed the corner down onto the ground and up onto the crossbar from just six yards out. A couple of minutes later George Moncur was stroking the ball home from the edge of the area to spark scences of delirium at one end and abject disappointment at the other.
To be fair Posh had done enough to win a match of desperately poor quality, but that won’t stop manager Darren Ferguson suffering another week of speculation and criticism from his club’s supporters. Ferguson was already polling about as well in Peterborough as Nick Clegg polls nationally and his failure to make any substitutions until falling behind prompted the biggest moans on social media after this match.
Ferguson’s sacking is not thought to be imminent, but the person who selects live games for BT sport might be in greater danger.
Two sides without a League One win between them in November - Posh haven’t picked up three points since October 18 - were never likely to deliver a classic. True to form they delivered a game so devoid of quality and excitement for 87 minutes there must have been a mass turn off from Channel 413 - if anyone other than die-hard Posh fans had actually turned on in the first place.
Magical it most definitely wasn’t although some-one did make the crowd disappear - there were less than 3,000 at the Weston Homes Community Stadium and one stand housed only TV men and ball boys - but oohs and aahs of a positive kind were non-existent until the final few minutes.
A quite dreadful first-half yielded just one moment worthy of a mention when Moncur’s shot from just outside the penalty area was pushed to one side by Posh ‘keeper Ben Alnwick.
Both sides enjoyed spells of domination and pressure, but they tended to be brief.
Ferguson restored the midfield diamond and bowed to popular opinion by playing Erhun Oztumer at the tip of it. The little man looks so bright and positive in possession he shouldn’t be written off, but he needs to find a similar wavelength to his team-mates.
Kgosi Ntlhe played the Posh pass of the first 45 minutes when clearing the considerable presence of Tom Eastman to find Mclean in space behind in the 20th minute.
Mclean of 2007 would have buried the chance, but the still-willing 2014 version didn’t catch it well enabling Walker to make an easy save.
Mclean also cut inside onto his left-foot, but shot weakly wide later in the half, but otherwise every Posh move broke down on the edge of the penalty area.
Colchester were more direct and more dangerous. On-loan QPR left-back Cole Kpekawa looked decent and he saw one shot diverted wide by MIchael Bostwick who had been preferred to Michael Smith at right-back.
Posh generally defended well with centre-backs Gaby Zakuani and Burgess dominating a weak forward line. Zakuani also spun well on the ball at a Posh corner, but his shot was blocked.
Colchester give a full debut to new signing Kasper Gorkss, a Latvian international centre-back and he was better than his central defensive partner Tom Eastman who was often caught out by the long ball.
Mcleaan, who led the line pretty well, wasted a fine Bostwick pass by turning inside onto his stronger right foot three minutes into the second-half.
Posh looked more threatening in that second period without testing Walker until Jermaine Anderson fired in a fine 20 yarder 10 minutes from time.
A foul on Bostwick in the area looked to have given Posh the advantage, but Mclean, who was perhaps a surprise taker of the penalty as his finishing had been awry all afternoon, was denied from the spot. Burgess struck the bar from the corner when he probably should have scored, Washington’s strong run into the penalty area was thwarted by Walker and a couple of Joe Newell crosses forced last-ditch clearances.
It then looked odds-on a replay, but Colchester worked an opening for Moncur who finished well and earned the undying praise of the neutral as well as the home fans for saving them from another 90 minutes of this sort of spectacle. There was time for one of two very late substitutes, Kyle Vassell, to blaze a half-chance over the bar.
After the game Ferguson reckoned his side showed enough to suggest a corner would soon be turned. He also said that words, presumably of consolation as well as criticism, are sometimes better left to a later date. His chairman Darragh MacAnthony presumably agreed as he had been unsually quiet for the first few hours after the final whistle.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Bostwick, Kgosi Ntlhe, Christian Burgess, Gaby Zakuani (sub Kyle Vassell, 90 mins), Jack Payne (sub Luke James, 90 mins), Jermaine Anderson, Joe Newell, Erhun Oztumer, Conor Washington, Aaron Mclean. Unused substitutes: Dion-Curtis Henry, Ricardo Santos, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Michael Smith, Leo Da-Silva Lopes.
Posh player ratings: Aaron gets an A for effort and a D for his finishing
Colchester: Sam Walker, Elliot Hewitt, Kasper Gorkss, Tom Eastman, Cole Kwekpana, George Moncur, David Fox, Craig Eastmond, Sanchez Watt (sub Sean Clohessy, 90 mins), Gavin Massey (sub Rhys Healey, 81 mins), Freddie Sears. Unused substitutes: Dean Lewington, , Michael O’Donoghue, Sammie Szmodics, Dion Sembie-Ferris, Macauley Bonne.
Colchester - Moncur (90 + 1 min).
Posh - Anderson (foul).
Colchester - Watt (foul).
Referee: Tony Harrington 7
Attendance: 2,905 (404 Posh).