They delayed the kick off at London Road, such was the throng at the turnstiles. Yet even with this 15 minutes' grace this FA Cup third-round replay was effectively finished by the time some of the stragglers gained entry.
It took just 17 minutes for Jay Simpson, the 20-year-old Arsenal loanee, to underline his rich potential with a superb goal that underlined the difference in quality of these teams. Twenty minutes later Paul Robinson headed a second from Do-heon Kim's cross but one always looked enough. All that remained in doubt was the identity of Albion's fourth round visitors, finally settled when Burnley defeated Queen's Park Rangers in extra-time.
"We felt they had had their best chance in the first match," said Tony Mowbray, the Albion manager. "It was a flat atmosphere compared to the Premier League games and our players found that difficult. We came here twice last year and won so it held no fears for us."
A mere 28 places separate the teams but it is still two divisions, Posh being in League One, Albion the Premier League. Their positions in those sections mean, as Darren Ferguson, Peterborough's manager, noted, this could easily be a Championship match next season. "If it is, we were well short," he said. It was a chastening night for Ferguson and his hot-shots, Craig Mackail-Smith, George Boyd and Aaron Mclean.
Albion's passing meant Peterborough struggled to win enough ball to create chances, the few they gained, they did not convert. The most significant came in the ninth minute when the defensive frailties that have bedevilled Albion in the top flight emerged again. Charlie Lee was allowed to run unchallenged on to a throw-in and chipped the stranded Scott Carson only to see the ball roll wide. "It was a great chance. It gives you a platform if he scores that," lamented Ferguson.
All the same Albion, whose team selection indicated they were taking the tie seriously, had already had a couple of opportunities. After Felipe Teixeira released Roman Bednar with the outside of his boot, Joe Lewis made a scrambling save. Then Leon Barnett headed just wide.
Lewis' save illustrated the intriguing sub-plot to the game, an improbable one given the teams' status. The respective goalkeepers are rivals for the understudy role in the England team. Neither looked entirely secure last night, but Lewis could not be faulted for Simpson's strike. As Peterborough's defence stood off, Simpson picked up Bednar's lay-off and drove a low shot inside the far post from more than 25 yards.
"I think we need help in the goalscoring department and hopefully Jay will provide that," Mowbray said. "I analyse our stats and we normally have 500 passes and only four shots. We'll have 60 per cent of possession but not score."
Mowbray was also delighted to give Teixeira his first start since suffering a cruciate injury in March. With the winger and Simpson he has effectively acquired two new players for the relegation battle without paying a fee.
Peterborough United (4-4-2): Lewis; Martin, Morgan, Zakuani, Williams; Whelpdale, Lee (Batt, 77), Keates, Boyd; Mackail-Smith, Mclean. Substitutes not used: McKeown (gk), Torres, Green, Webb, Gaughran, Blanchett.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Hoefkens, Barnett, Donk, Robinson; Koren, Greening, Kim (Valero, 80), Teixeira (Dorrans, 65); Bednar, Simpson (Beattie, 71). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Brunt, Moore, Pele.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).Reuse content