Peterborough United won a nerve-wracking, high quality penalty shootout to move to within two wins of a Wembley appearance tonight (January 9)
Posh played poorly for 90 minutes against a heavily depleted Luton Town team at Kenilworth Road in this third round Checktrade Trophy and rarely looked like scoring in a 0-0 draw.
But they kept their nerve to score seven successive penalties in the shootout. Luton converted their first six before Posh ‘keeper Jonathan Bond saved a weak effort from Frankie Musonda to send his side through to the quarter finals.
The difference in attitude towards a much maligned competition was obvious from the team selections. Posh made just one change that wasn’t forced on them as club captain Jack Baldwin replaced Steven Taylor at the heart of the defence, while League Two title favourites Luton retained just one starter from their FA Cup defeat at Newcastle at the weekend.
Striker Junior Morias was the man chosen to replace suspended midfielder Chris Forrester as Posh boss Grant McCann kept his promise to field a strong, and very attacking, starting line-up. Morias hadn’t started a game since injuring his thigh at Oldham on September 26.
And yet Luton’s reserve team were the better side before the break and came closest to breaking the deadlock on 37 minutes when a swift break down the right ended with Jordan Cook heading a Harry Cornick cross against the foot of the post.
Right-back Jack Stacey started that move with a fine interception and his sheer speed often troubled Posh.
A lead wouldn’t have flattered the home side who played with far more energy and drive than a Posh side getting nowhere near the standards they set themselves at Villa Park a few days earlier.
Top scorer Jack Marriott, who was afforded a fine reception by his old Luton crowd, delivered his first shot after just eight seconds before slamming a couple of half chances straight at Hatters keeper James Shea.
But Marriott too often cut an isolated figure up top. His quest for more goals was not helped by Danny Lloyd’s poor quality and a disappointingly lacklustre effort from main man Marcus Maddison who was second to every 50/50 ball.
Luton often managed to pass too easily through the Posh midfield with substitute Josh McQuoid, who scored at Wembley in the final of this competition for Posh in 2014, one of those to test Bond.
Bond saved well in the first minute from Lawson D’Ath with the same player shooting over when well-placed on the edge of the penalty area just before the break.
Posh lost midfielder Leo Da Silva Lopes to injury just after the half hour mark.
The second half was a scrappy disjointed affair with few chances to either side.
Posh went closest to breaking the deadlock three minutes from time when substitutes Idris Kanu and Jermaine Anderson combined before the latter drew a fine low save from home goalkeeper James Shea.
Maddison, Marriott, Michael Doughty, Liam Shephard, Jack Baldwin, Kanu and Ryan Tafazolli all scored from the spot. Baldwin kept his nerve when a miss would have sent Posh out.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard, Andrew Hughes, Jack Baldwin, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Michael Doughty, 33 mins), Junior Morias (for Jermaine Anderson, 69 mins), Danny Lloyd (sub Idris Kanu, 58 mins), Jack Marriott, Marcus Maddison.
Unused substitutes: Alex Penny, Conor O’Malley, Lewis Freestone, Andrea Borg.
Luton: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Jordan Cook, Lawson D’Ath (sub Olly Lee, 84 mins), Alan Sheehan, Franki Musonda, Harry Cornick (sub Andrew Shinnie, 64 mins), Jack Senior, Luke Gambin (sub Josh McQuoid, 25 mins), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Akin Famewo.
Unused substitutes: James Justin, Dan Potts, Kavan Cotter, Harry Isted.
Cautions: Luton - Senior (foul).
Referee: Anthony Coggins 7
Attendance: 2,253 (408 Posh).