Peterborough United edge closer to Wembley thanks to a blistering start and a tidy finish to their Trophy quarter-final

Peterborough United will now be warm favourites to reach a Wembley Final for the first time in 10 years.
Ronnie Edwards (right) congratulates Malik Mothersille on his early goal for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.comRonnie Edwards (right) congratulates Malik Mothersille on his early goal for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo: Joe Dent/
Ronnie Edwards (right) congratulates Malik Mothersille on his early goal for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo: Joe Dent/

As Posh were despatching AFC Wimbledon 3-1 at the Weston Homes Stadium in the EFL Trophy quarter-finals on Tuesday, the only team to outrank them in the Football League standings, Bolton Wanderers, were losing on penalties at Blackpool.

This is a therefore a golden chance for a Posh team to lift a cup. They had effectively moved to within 90 minutes of a stroll down Wembley Way within four minutes tonight by which time they were 2-0 ahead.

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They cruised through the first-half, but found the second-half a real struggle, although Wimbledon didn’t grab the goal they deserved until the 89th minute.

Ephron Mason-Clark scores for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo; David Lowndes.Ephron Mason-Clark scores for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo; David Lowndes.
Ephron Mason-Clark scores for Posh against Wimbledon. Photo; David Lowndes.

And that simply sparked Posh back into life as substitute Ricky-Jade Jones scored scored football’s equivalent of an ice hockey ‘empty net’ goal deep into added time. Jones took advantage of visiting goalkeeper Nik Tzanev’s charge forward for a last-gasp corner.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson said he would go strong with Wembley just two wins away and he was true to his word with seven of Saturday’s starting line-up retaining their places.

Goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic, Romoney Crichlow, who lined up at left-back, midfielder Jeando Fuchs and striker Malik Mothersille were the interlopers.

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Josh Knight skippered Posh in the absence of suspended captain Harrison Burrows.

Former Posh youth team striker Josh Davison started up front for the visitors who sold star man Ali Al-Hamadi to Ipswich earlier this week.

And what a start Posh delivered and Wimbledon suffered. Posh were 2-0 up inside four minutes as Malik Mothersille and Ephron Mason-Clark scored and claimed an assist apiece.

Joel Randall played a huge part in the opening goal after two minutes. He robbed an opponent and played a defence-splitting pass to Mason-Clark who in turn delivered a sliderule cross for Mothersille who fired into the roof of the net.

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And two minutes later Mothersille repaid the favour although Mason-Clark’s attempt at goal landed in the back of the net courtesy of a generous deflection that bamboozled Tzanev.

Wimbledon were very direct, although not as obviously so as their Premier League predecessors, and they did push Posh back at times, albeit without creating a thing.

Posh looked far more likely as their dangerous forwards were often left to roam free. Randall sent a free shot from the edge of the area straight at Tzanev and then saw another strike from closer in deflected over the bar.

It was all too comfortable and Posh occasionally became sloppy, but the first-choice centre-backs ensured goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic had a quiet first-half on his return from injury.

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Posh started the second-half poorly, not helped by another terrible playing surface. They were forced to defend free kicks and corners and they weren’t always convincing, although Bilokapic still wasn’t tested.

A dreadful playing surface didn’t help Posh. It certainly helped the visitors who used power rather than subtlety to keep the pressure on the home goal.

Ferguson made a couple of substitutions and shifted Randall to the left wing, the position he was playing when Posh were persuaded to spend a million quid on him. He made good ground on to one Crichlow pass, cut inside, but shot straight at Tzsanev.

Jones also broke away and crossed for Randall to force a decent save by Tsanev

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But just as Posh looked like easing into the semi-finals Wimbledon struck with a close range header from Ryan McLean from a corner.

That actually had the effect of galvanising Posh as Hector Kyprianou smashed a shot against the crossbar before Jones sped away to seal victory.

Posh: Nicholas Bilokapic, Romoney Crichlow, Ronnie Edwards, Josh Knight, Jadel Katongo (sub Emmanuel Fernandez, 80 mins), Jeando Fuchs (sub Hector Kyprianou, 80 mins), Archie Collins, Ephron Mason-Clark, Joel Randall, David Ajiboye (sub Ricky-Jade Jones, 62 mins), Malik Mothersille (sub Ryan De Havilland, 65 mins).

Unused subs: Fynn Talley, Charlie O'Connell, Jonson Clarke-Harris.

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Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Huseyin Biler, Armani Little, James Ball (sub Morgan Williams, 80 mins), Jack Currie, Aron Sasu (sub Ronan Curtis, 65 mins), Paul Kalambayi, Joe Lewis (sub Lee Brown, 20 mins), James Tilley, Harry Pell, Josh Davison (sub Ryan Mclean, 80 mins)..

Unused subs: Alex Bass, Lee Brown, Ethan Sutcliffe, Isaac Ogundere.

GOALS: Posh – Mothersille (2 mins), Mason-Clark (4 mins), Jones (90 + 5 mins).

Wimbledon – Mclean (89 mins).

CAUTIONS: Posh – Knight (foul).

Wimbledon – Ball (foul).

REFEREE: Carl Brook 6

ATTENDANCE: 3,225 (Wimbledon to follow)