It was agony for League One Peterborough as Lee Angol’s penalty was saved by Ben Foster to send Premier League West Bromwich Albion through this fourth round FA Cup replay. Martin Samuelsen had seen his effort for Posh saved before Darren Fletcher pulled his effort for Albion hopelessly wide. The Scot was to enjoy a reprieve.
Extra-time had seen chances at both ends but no further goals after Fletcher’s 71st-minute equaliser had spared the Premier League team in normal time. Jon Taylor, one of the scorers as Graham Westley’s team scored twice in the last 11 minutes in the first meeting at The Hawthorns, had put Peterborough in front early in the second half.
It was no more than they deserved, having been the better team to that point. But their hopes of delivering a shock in normal time were dashed when Albion captain Fletcher scored a cracker.
Naturally, Peterborough were able to approach the tie as the team with nothing to lose against a Premier League side whose manager is under some pressure after a poor run of results coupled with growing discontent among Albion fans over what is perceived by some as negative, boring football. By contrast, Peterborough have an attacking philosophy that has made them one of the most entertaining sides in League One. Indeed, in the four divisions, only their promotion rivals Gillingham (55) have scored more league goals that Posh’s 54.
They were soon creating chances, with Harry Beautyman denied twice inside the first 20 minutes, first by a James Chester block after Samuelsen’s weaving run into the box, and then by a save from Foster, who had been preferred to Boaz Myhill in a line-up almost as strong as Tony Pulis could muster in the circumstances.
That sparked a period of pressure from the Premier League side in which James McClean had a fierce effort blocked and Chester wasted a chance when a Craig Gardner found him unmarked at the far post.
Peterborough, it should be said, were not without selection problems, with two players suspended and five ineligible, yet they played with confidence and fluidity at times. Shaquile Coulthirst curled one attempt narrowly wide early in the second half, and the opening goal duly arrived in the 55th-minute.
Angol, breaking down the right after intercepting a poor pass by McClean, looked at first to be running into a dead end but was still able to find Taylor with a square pass and the 23-year-old former Shrewsbury midfielder found the bottom right-hand corner with a left-foot shot from 15 yards, despite Foster getting a hand to it.
The goal provoked a heated argument between Foster and his defensive team-mate Jonas Olsson, which would not have amused Pulis as he urged his players to focus on avoiding an upset. Just as it appeared they were there for the taking, however, Albion came up with an equaliser from Fletcher with just under 20 minutes remaining, the Albion captain making sweet contact with his shot as the ball was only half-cleared, sending it flying past Ben Alnwick from the edge of the box.
Samuelsen just missed the target after more eye-catching play in the first half of extra time and substitute Marcus Maddison almost succeeded with an audacious attempt to lob England goalkeeper Foster as Peterborough went for the kill. But it took a brave header on the line from Gabriel Zakuani to deny Craig Gardner a goal for Albion before Berahino missed an open goal from a Gardner free kick.
Berahino missed a simple header right at the death. Pulis went berserk on the touchline, and the striker held his head in shame. But he got away with it in the end.