Mackail-Smith ensures Posh name remains in the draw

West Bromwich Albion 1 Peterborough United 1
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The Independent Football

Five FA Cups he may be behind his celebrated father but Darren Ferguson has Peterborough United's sights fixed on a fourth-round place for the second season running. West Bromwich Albion were three minutes from a third successive home win until Craig Mackail-Smith characteristically popped up to secure a replay that the League One side will view with considerably more relish than their opponents.

Billy Wright was the visiting Arsenal manager and Derek Dougan among the home team's scorers when Peterborough, in 1965, beat a top-flight club for the only time in this competition. History is in the offing at London Road.

One thing for sure is that Mackail-Smith will be up for it. This was the third decisive late goal he has scored in this season's FA Cup since emerging as the country's seven-goal top scorer in the 2007-08 staging, when a Player of the Round award along the way earned him two tickets among Portsmouth's fans at the final.

"I think we deserved a bit more here," the 24-year-old former Dagenham & Redbridge striker said. "Now we have to take them to our place and beat them."

It's not only in promotions and promotion challenges that Peterborough's rise is underlined. Having been emphatically beaten at home by Albion in both cups last season, they thoroughly deserved this second chance against a side who have themselves gone up in the meantime.

"We didn't do ourselves justice against them last season but the players did us proud today," Ferguson said. "We score a lot of late goals and I was praying we could find one. I'm really pleased because we always caused them problems. It was disappointing to concede a goal from a set-piece after weathering a tough 20 minutes. West Brom are a good team and it's still going to be very difficult in the replay."

So fond are Tony Mowbray's memories of his team's journey to a Wembley semi-final last season that he named his strongest available side, convinced as he is that another good run would enhance Albion's Premier League survival effort.

Only occasionally was the 28-place gap between the teams apparent, though, and Peterborough, in doing what Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur failed to do here over Christmas, almost sent their 4,000 followers into dreamland in stoppage time when Aaron McLean fired wide.

Albion threatened little until promising to take control after the break, Jonathan Greening being denied by Joe Lewis's diving save and the keeper having inches to spare as he clutched the rebound by the debutant on-loan substitute Jay Simpson, the 20-year-old senior figure among Arsenal's wonder-kids.

Peterborough, having recently lost their 14-game unbeaten run, were increasingly pushed back and the deadlock was broken in the 64th minute. Greening delivered a near-post corner from the left and Jonas Olsson glanced his header into the far corner.

Mindful that they had scored five times in the last half-hour in last weekend's 6-3 victory at Cheltenham Town and saved themselves at the death in the last round at Tranmere, Peterborough responded with spirit.

The impressive George Boyd crashed an effort wide after beating two players, and Mackail-Smith flicked wide a clear headed opportunity. But McLean, on the right, crossed low for Mackail-Smith to squeeze a close-range shot through Scott Carson's legs for his 18th goal of the season.

"We can't have any complaints," Mowbray said. "Peterborough know how to chase a game and good luck to them. I won't take anything away from them. They were forcing the game at the end."

Attendance: 18,659

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Boyd

Match rating: 6/10

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