Staines endured what can only be described as a massive defeat here yesterday. Any ideas they had of matching the exploits of their fellow Ryman Premier team Horsham in reaching the FA Cup third-round draw were swiftly ended by full-time opponents who had the Swans paddling like mad underneath and looking distinctly ruffled above the surface, too. Four goals from Craig Mackail-Smith did the bulk of the damage in front of a crowd of 2,460. But for an inspired display by the home keeper, Shaun Allaway, Peterborough would have had double figures.
The multiple scorer is hoping to get either Manchester Unitedaway or Watford his hometown team at home in today's draw, but his main concern afterwards seemed to be the joshing he was going to get from his team-mates for missing an open goal before his final strike. "It should have been five today," he said. "I'm going to get a lot of stick for that. A lot of stick..."
If faith and hope had anything to do with it, Staines would have nullified the threat of their visitors just as they had that of Peterborough's fellow League Two side Stockport in the previous round. The club's bright idea of selling off spare Ali G suits following the players' photoshoot had clearly worked, as a number of fans boldly sported the garish, billowing yellow garb of choice, and their team's early work suggested that this latest of their Cup stories their earliest, in a previous incar-nation as St Peter's Institute, saw them contest a first-round tie in 1879 was set to continue.
For fans with long memories, this latest Cup run may have stirred memories of what, until last Thursday week's replay with Stockport, may have been Staines' brightest hour a two-legged victory in 1975 over the Italian Amateur Cup holders, Banco di Roma, which involved playing in front of 70,000 fans in the Olympic stadium.
But the Swans' hopes of further glory were dead in the water within 16 minutes as their League opponents watched with an intensity that is clearly part of the family DNA by their manager, Darren Ferguson, son of Alex effectively settled the tie with two smart goals.
Mackail-Smith claimed his first of the afternoon with a rising drive in the 11th minute after Chris Whelpdale's shot had been cleared off the line, and within five minutes their lead doubled as Mackail-Smith's forwardpartner Aaron McLean, thwarted at point-blank range by Allaway, got up and drove the loose ball into the empty net.
After 23 minutes the gap became three goals as Peterborough took advantage of nave marking from a corner and pulled the ball back to give their captain, Micah Hyde, a free shot. Allaway parried it, but Mackail-Smith reacted first to the chance.
Staines looked bright enough on the break, with right-winger Lewis Cook excelling; their keeper was playing a blinder; and their cause was hopeless.
Home spirits plunged further in a second half that began in heavy rain as Mackail-Smith completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute before raising the biggest cheer of the afternoon three minutes later by missing the most open of open goals with Allaway stranded. But Mackail-Smith struck again soon after the hour to reduce the home fans to a state of fatalistic acceptance.