Peterborough United made hard work of beating lowly League Two side in a cracking FA Cup tie
Goals early in each half from Harrison Burrows and Ephron Mason-Clark seemed to put Posh on cruise control at the Weston Homes Stadium, but Mo Faal’s towering 75th-minute header set up a pulsating finish which saw lowly League Two side Doncaster Rovers hit the post.
There were chances for both sides throughout and both goalkeepers made sizeable contributions in a terrific end-to-end contest between two teams who tried to play attractive football from start to finish.
On another day Posh might have scored six, but there was sloppiness at both ends of the pitch from Darren Ferguson’s side which made this tie a it more nerve-wracking than necessary.
Posh were unchanged for a match inevitably billed as the battle of the bosses as two men, whose careers have overlapped for the last dozen years, took their places in the respective dugouts.
Ferguson named an unchanged starting lineup as proof of Posh’s determination to reach the third round.
Grant McCann made three changes to his Doncaster side, but Posh promotion hero Tommy Rowe was left on the substitutes’ bench.
It was banker home win on many betting coupons for sure and the odds shrunk further after three minutes when a deliciously whipped cross from Burrows sailed into the net.
But it was soon clear Doncaster’s 17th place in League Two was a false position. They pressed effectively and popped the ball about efficiently, while in right winger Luke Molyneux they possessed a potent threat.
They should have equalised in the fifth minute when a simple ball over the top opened Posh up. Joe Ironside flicked it to strike partner Faal six yards from goal, but Posh goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic made a fine point-blank save.
Bilokapic made another fine save from a Molyneux header on 17th minute before Posh started to wreak with their pace on the break.
A slip from visiting ‘keeper Louis Jones gave Ricky-Jade Jones the chance to score from close range, but Tom Nixon made a fine defensive block.
Jones then did well to free Poku, but his shot was turned wide by Doncaster’s Jones and the goalkeeper made another key stop after Ephron Mason-Clark sent Jones through. The Posh striker rather telegraphed the direction of his shot and the save was simple.
Joel Randall saw a 25 yard free kick turned aside by Jones and he also delivered a weak shot that was saved.
But it was far from one-way traffic. Posh looked jaded at times and passed themselves into trouble. Faal hit the outside of the post following a corner and George Broadbent smashed over with virtually the last kick of the half after some desperate defending from Ronnie Edwards.
Posh smartened their act up at the start of the second-half and doubled their lead with a superb individual goal from Mason-Clark. The man signed by McCann from Barnet, cut inside towards the edge of the penalty area and drilled a shot into the opposite corner.
Minutes earlier Mason-Clark had seen a fierce strike beaten away by Jones following a terrific pass from Burrows.
Just past the hour mark a superb pass from Edwards led to a flick from Mason-Clark and a fine cross from Randall which Jones just steered just wide of a post before Josh Knight, a man seemingly destined not to score this season, saw a close-range volley from a corner bravely blocked.
Faal saw a ‘goal’ from a free kick disallowed for offside on 67 minutes, but he wasn’t too be denied for long as he powered in a fine right-wing cross with 15 minutes to go after some sloppy Posh defending, with Edwards most culpable with a poor pass out from the back.
Posh almost scored straight away with Jones denied by Jones from close range after Mason-Clark had teed him up.
Posh also continued to live dangerously and a Knight slip was pounced upon by Ironside. He slipped Faal in, but Bilokapic was out well to save.
Knight was soon making a terrific block and as nine minutes of added time started visiting substitute Kyle Hurst rattled a post and sparked a goal-mouth scramble that Posh just about survived.
There were more nervy moments as Posh kept conceding possession, but they scrambled their way through after a cracking contest.
Posh: Nichols Bilokapic, Ronnie Edwards, Josh Knight, Peter Kioso, Hector Kyprianou, Archie Collins (sub Jadel Katongo, 86 mins), Ephron Mason-Clark (sub Ryan De Havilland, 90 + 4 mins), Joel Randall (sub David Ajiboye, 77 mins), Kwame Poku (sub Jonson Clarke-Harris, 86 mins), Ricky-Jade Jones.
Unused subs: Fynn Talley, Romoney Crichlow, Zak Sturge, Emmanuel Fernandez, Jacob Wakeling.
Doncaster: Louis Jones, James Maxwell (sub Kyle Hurst, 70 mins), Tom Anderson, Joseph Olowu, Luke Molyneux, George Broadbent, Tom Nixon (sub Tommy Rowe, 61 mins), Owen Bailey, Ben Close, Mo Faal (sub Tyler Roberts, 87 mins), Joe Ironside.
Unused subs: Ian Lawlor, Harrison Biggins, Jack Degruchy, Tavonga Kuleya, Jack Goodman, Sam Straughan-Brown.
Goals: Posh – Burrows (3 mins), Mason-Clark (54 mins).
Doncaster – Faal (75 mins).
Cautions: Doncaster – Anderson (foul), Oluwu (foul), Maxwell (foul).
Referee: Ben Speedie 7.
Attendance: 5,498 (1,011 Doncaster).