One more win from a place in the National League set-up when they would just be a couple of promotions from the Football League. Remarkable for a team playing Peterborough League football as recently as 2013.
Sports saw off Alvechurch 2-1 in front of a club record crowd of 741 at the Bee Arena in their semi-final this evening. They overcame a sluggish start to dominate the game and take a 2-0 lead with two goals in the first eight minutes of the second-half from centre-back Ryan Fryatt and midfielder Josh McCammon.
The visitors pulled a goal back direct from a free kick with just over 20 minutes to go and, while Sports ‘keeper Peter Crook was probably disappointed to let that one slip in, he more than redeemed himself with a superb 94th-minute save after Daniel Waldron had breached the home defence.
An equaliser and extra time would have been a travesty, but the final whistle blew 60 seconds later to spark scenes of great jubilation, not least from manager Jimmy Dean who is now within touching distance of a fourth promotion with the club.
A tough game with Coalville in the play-off final at the Bee Arena on Bank Holiday Monday May 2 (3pm) must be won first.
"We deserved that,” Dean enthused. “We should have scored more goals and then we almost blew it at the death, but that save is why I brought Peter Crook to the club.
"What a great night for the club. The atmopshere was outstanding. It was great to see so many fans here and they made it lovely and hostile for our opponents.
"Alvechurch are a good side. They beat us twice in the league and we had to tinker with our system a bit to stop them playing and my players responded. The three midfielders were outstanding out of possession.
"We need those fans back and hopefully a few more, again for the final on Monday. We want to borrow the Posh fans again for what should be a great game.
"After Banbury us and Coalville are comfortably the best two teams in the league. The table proves that. We finished level on points, we both play good football and we will both be at full strength so bring it on!”
Sports took a while to find their stride tonight, but once settling down they had the better of the first-half chances with Jordan Nicholson heading wide and then firing into the sidenetting after Dion Sembie-Ferris had headed a fine cross from Lamine Kaba Sherif back across goal.
But Sports enjoyed the perfect start to the second-half when Fryatt headed home a deep Dan Lawlor corner in the 47th minute. In the 53rd minute McCammon drove home from 20 yards and Sports were in cruise control.
Alvechurch offered little attacking spark until a 25-yard free kick suprisingly from Nicholas Clayton-Phillips defeated Crook on 69 minutes, but Sports were soon back on top with Nicholson spurning a great chance to settle the tie 10 minutes from time.
Incredibly, given the flow of the game, Alvechurch missed two great chances to equalise in added time. First substitute Dave Bellis shot wide from the edge of the area without realising he had plenty of time to find the target.
And then Crook came to the rescue to thwart Waldron and set-up a mouthwatering finale to a stunning Sports season.
Peterborough Sports: Peter Crook, Isiah Bazeley, Luke Warner-Eley, Ryan Fryatt, Richard Jones, Dan Lawlor, Lamine Kaba Sherif, Josh McCammon, Mark Jones, Jordan Nicholson (sub Dan Jarvis, 88 mins), Dion Sembie-Ferris. Subs not used: Michael Gash, Lewis Hilliard, Brad McGowan, Jordan Macleod.
Goals: Sports – Fryatt (47 mins), McCammon (53 mins).
Alvechurch – Clayton-Phillips (69 mins).
Cautions: Sports – Bazele, Lawlor, McCammon.
Alvechurch – Willetts, Solanke, Skeen-Hamilton.
Referee: Anthony Tankard.