The first 10 minutes aside, it won’t be a Peterborough United performance to linger long in the memory. It also won’t be a display to keep Antonio Conte and Diego Costa awake at night.
But this was all about securing the prize and what a prize it is. The reward for beating struggling League Two outfit Notts County 2-0 at the ABAX is a trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, the best team in the country, one currently turning the Premier League title race into a procession.
It’s the perfect Christmas present for Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony, manager Grant McCann, the players and the fans. It’s a day out in London, the club will bank a few quid - about £500k according to director of football Barry Fry before he went on to play the fool in front of the TV cameras - they’ll rub shoulders with a few big stars and they’ll probably get knocked out leaving them to concentrate on the more important stuff.
That’s all for another day. Beating Gillingham at in front of a holiday crowd is next on the agenda and McCann will be hoping Paul Taylor recovers from the hamstring strain that forced him out after 35 minutes of last night’s tie.
Taylor’s form has ensured Posh haven’t missed mercurial Marcus Maddison too much, if at all, in the last three matches and last night he joined in a quite spectacular club goal-of-the-season contest.
Taylor’s surge forward and thump into the top corner from 25 yards in the eighth minute made it 2-0 to fast-starting Posh and, while it didn’t kill the game off instantly, it did eventually lead to a very relaxed quarter of the game when County ran out of ideas and stamina.
Goal-machine Gwion Edwards had given Posh the lead on 118 seconds when deftly heading in Micheal Smith’s right-wing cross. Posh were 2-0 up in 15 minutes of the original tie - they were cruising in half the time last night and this time there was no fight-back from a team in turmoil.
County had their moments, most notably when Posh ‘keeper Luke McGee conceded a penalty by fouling Jon Stead late in the first-half. McGee promptly denied the same man from the spot to claim his third penalty save of his own impressive campaign.
Thierry Audel forced Tom Nichols to react smartly on the goal-line from a corner, Jonathan Forte was unfortunate to see his lob over McGee hit the crossbar just before the hour mark and after both he and Stead saw fine drives well saved by McGee before County wilted after constantly running into a resolute defence featuring rock-solid central defenders Ryan Tafazolli and Michael Bostwick once too often.
The fact that the Posh back four and goalkeeper McGee again played well proved it was no easy ride, although, inspired by the arrival of substitute Nathan Oduwa, McCann’s men finished the game strongly with Tom Nichols twice coming close to adding further goals.
Almost 7,500 Posh fans attended the match, attracted by cheap admission and the promise of a priority ticket for Chelsea. Expect most of them to try and get to support their team at Stamford Bridge.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Andrew Hughes, Michael Bostwick, Ryan Tafazolli, Chris Forrester, Gwion Edwards (sub Jerome Binnom-Williams, 88 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes, Paul Taylor (sub Brad Inman, 35 mins), Tom Nichols, Shaquile Coulthirst (sub Nathan Oduwa, 74 mins). Unused substitutes: Adil Nabi, Ricardo Santos, Callum Chettle, Mark Tyler.
Notts County: Scott Loach, Matt Tootle, Hayden Hollis, Richard Duffy, Jordan Richards (sub Adam Campbell, 57 mins), Rob Milsom, Curtis Thompson, Alan Smith (sub Aaron Collins, 74 mins), Thierry Audel, Jonathan Forte, Jon Stead (sub Vadine Oliver, 68 mins). Unused substitutes Adam Collin, Louis Laing, Carl Dickenson, Elliot Hewitt.
Goals: Posh - Edwards (2 mins), Taylor (8 mins).
Referee: Darren England 7.
Attendance: 7,796 (475 County).