Peterborough United eventually emerged victorious at Bradford City on a fanatastic night of FA Cup football tonight (December 11).
Posh won a penalty shootout 3-2 after a thrilling 4-4 draw and Steve Evans’ men had heroes galore.
Ivan Toney’s hat-trick which included a 50-yard free kick goal was matched by a magnificent performance from winger Marcus Maddison and three penalty saves in the shoot out from back-up goalkeeper Conor O’Malley.
O’Malley had endured some rough moments in the preceeding 120 minutes, but he kept out the spotkicks of Karl Henry, Jack Payne and Paul Caddis. Maddison, Matt Godden and Jamie Walker scored their Posh penalties with City ‘keeper Ben Wilson thwarting Toney.
Posh had led 2-0 and 3-1 in the first half before falling 4-3 behind. Toney equalised with his hat-trick goal in the 84th minute and Posh dominated extra time before booking their third round trip to Middlesbrough from the penalty spot.
Any thoughts of a hangover from the first tie when Posh conceded two goals in the final six minutes were soon blown away by Toney who scored twice in three minutes during a first-half which involved some quality attacking play from both sides.
There appeared little danger when Toney was fouled in the centre-circle 18 minutes in, but the big striker pounced as the ball was placed on the turf by a home defender and smacked a shot over rookie City goalkeeper Wilson from fully 50 yards. It was a stroke of genius from the big man.
And two minutes later he was stooping to score a more routine headed goal from close range after a perfect cross from Maddison.
Having held that two-goal lead in the original tie, Posh presumably were conditioned against complacency, but within another two minutes O’Malley charged unnecessarily to the edge of the penalty area to collect a long ball. He collided with one of his own defenders and, although Colin Daniel did superbly to block David Ball’s shot at an open goal, the ball dribbled into a post enabling George Miller to tap home.
Miller had shot wide after a blunder by Ryan Tafazolli in the early exchanges.
Both sides continued to commit many men to attack and Ball was soon curling over for City when well placed before O’Malley’s nerves were tested by swerving 20 yard shots from Payne and Lewis O’Brien. He stood up to the test.
But Posh also revelled in the wide open spaces - they were not quite as wide as the gaps on the terraces - and Toney saw a third ‘goal’ wiped out for offside after another excellent Maddison cross.
But Posh claimed a third goal just before the break. Toney’s superb control enabled him to send Siriki Dembele away and his low cross struck Jason Cummings before falling nicely for Maddison to tap home from close range.
City wasted an early second-half chance when Miller met O’Brien’s right-wing cross with a first time shot which went straight to O’Malley.
Posh responded with an excellent beak involving five players and a brilliant pass from Maddison to Joe Ward whose cross was just out of Toney’s reach.
But Posh remained alarmingly open at the back with City players popping up unmarked in dangerous positions. They promptly punished Posh with two goals in five minutes.
First Ryan Tafazolli made a hash of dealing with a loopy chip into the area. He won the ball off Payne but passed it straight to Ball who finished easily.
And then Ball was given far too much time in the penalty area to deliver an inch-perfect chip for Caddis to head home at the far post.
There hadn’t been an hour played and it was already 3-3.
To their credit Posh did settle and Mark O’Hara’s header from Maddison’s set piece might have been goalbound before striking Rhys Bennett.
Toney then advanced into the area but suprisingly failed to shoot.
But it was City who claimed the seventh goal of the game. O’Malley could’t reach a deep 73rd minute Payne corner and Miller was on hand to tap home from close range after the ball had been knocked back.
Posh mounted a decent response which featured a splendid cross from Maddison just out of Toney’s reach and a header from substitute Matt Godden which landed on the roof of the net.
But just when the FA Cup obituary was being written, Maddison delivered another piece of wing wizardry, bursting forward and crossing perfectly for Toney to complete his hat-trick with a skilfully controlled header six minutes from time.
There was still time for City to pummel Posh with Anthony O’Connor smacking the crossbar from a corner either side of some pinball in the visiting penalty area before extra time was reached.
The first half of extra time passed without incident, but Posh came alive again in the final 15 minutes as George Cooper skied over the bar after more Maddison magic and Joe Ward forced a superb save from Wilson after another Maddison pass.
And still Posh pressed. A whipped Maddison cross was spilled by Wilson but no-one could force the ball home before full time was called and Posh claimed a trip to the Riverside in January from the penalty spot,
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Joe Ward, Colin Daniel, Ryan Tafazolli, Rhys Bennett, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara (sub Jamie Walker, 79 mins), Marcus Maddison, Siriki Dembele (sub George Cooper, 64 mins), Ivan Toney, Jason Cummings (sub Matt Godden, 64 mins).
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Louis Reed, Tyler Denton.
Bradford City: Ben Wilson, Adam Chicksen, Kelvin Mellor, Anthony O’Connor, Paul Caddis, Nat Knight-Percival, Lewis O’Brien, Hope Akpan (sub Karl Henry, 70 mins), George Miller (sub Luca Colville, 90 + 2 mins), David Ball (sub, Eoin Doyle, 86 mins), Jack Payne.
Unused substitutes: Richard O’Donnell, Ryan McGowan, Kai Bruenker, Connor Wood.
Goals: Posh - Toney (18 mins, 20 mins & 84 mins), Maddison (45 + 3 mins).
City - Miller (23 mins & 73 mins), Ball (53 mins), Caddis (58 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Toney (foul), Ward (foul), Maddison (dissent), Cooper (foul).
City - O’Connor (unsportsmanlike conduct), Ball (foul).
Referee: Ross Joyce 8