Peterborough United boss Darren Ferguson relieved to make FA Cup progress on a 'frustrating night'
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In reality, Posh were taken all the way to extra time in one of the most extraordinary single games the club has been involved in in recent memory.
Posh were taken all the way to penalties, following a 4-4 draw away at Salford, and were even 3-2 down in the shootout before Elliott Watt his the post at what was match point and Fynn Talley saved Connor McLennan’s effort to send Posh through.
Posh earned themselves a shootout in the 123rd minute thanks to a Jonson Clarke-Harris goal from a free-kick; the final attack of the game.
Joel Randall, Ephron Mason-Clark and Archie Collins had scored in the first half to put Posh 3-1 up after they have fallen 1-0 behind after just four minutes. Posh, however, failed to hold that lead after a poor second half showing and were taken to extra time, falling 4-3 behind thanks to Stevie Mallan’s impressive strike.
They held their nerve in the shootout with Ferguson singling out 18-year-old James Dornelly after coming at the start of extra time and converting the first penalty of sudden death.
Ferguson said: “The main thing is that we’ve gone through, it would have been a hell of a blow if we hadn’t. We went from playing some sublime stuff, in complete control, to what you saw.
“It’s a credit to the players coming back and Jonno got us out of it with the last kick, we just found a way. Before the game, I just said find a way of getting through the tie but there’s certain parts of the game I’m not pleased with.
“We started the game really poorly, we’ve conceded two set piece goals but then once we got back in it, we showed the quality we’ve got. I said at half time, if you get the next goal, it will be a really enjoyable, comfortable evening; if you lose it and it’ll make it tricky and that’s what happened.
“I have to give great credit to James Dornelly, he’s got some temperament to step up and take that sixth penalty. He’s going to be a player. He was the first one to come and say I want to take one but I went with the others and I have him a good hug at the end and said fantastic. “
“It was an important game to not get beat- that’s a good habit-, we’ve found a way to dig a result out, yes there are things I’m very frustrated with but I’ll digest that in the next couple of days rather than now. I said to the players, let’s just get home. I’m really glad we’ve not got a game on Saturday considering when we’ll get back.
“It was a frustrating night to a degree, when you’ve got a team 3-1 and the pace we’ve got, it should be over. The quality of our goals were really pleasing though. Half time just came at the wrong time for us because I though we’d get another one.
“It’s a good example of what we can be like as a team.”
Ferguson’s big decision on the night was to bring in Fynn Talley in place of Nicholas Bilokapic, he ended the night the hero after making two saves in the shootout and crucially, the one from McLennan that secured the win.
Ferguson added: “Fynn did great in the penalties and played a big part in getting us through. The decision was a fairly comfortable one, Fynn deserved a chance to play in not just in the trophy games and it a game and atmosphere like this. He didn’t have any fault in any of the goals. There’s two things where he’s trying to play out but that can happen, he did fine. It’s a big moment for him in his career.
“I’m so glad we won that game, the amount of expense and travel on a Tuesday night for those fans that traveled and we’ve taken a good number (234). They’ve got jobs, they won’t get home until three in the morning, I appreciate that; that’s why we all went over to them.”
Posh will face Doncaster in the second round at the Weston Homes Stadium after Grant McCann’s side saw off Accrington Stanley 2-1 after extra time in their replay on Tuesday night.
Posh now have a break before travelling to Colchester in the final EFL Trophy group game. Posh will field a very young side having already qualified.