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Peterborough United 0 v 3 Leeds United
FA Cup
Sunday, 7th January 2024 Kick-off 14:00
Bamford scores wonder goal as Leeds progress at Peterborough
Sunday, 7th Jan 2024 17:58 by Tim Whelan

It might not have been as comfortable as the final scoreline suggests, but in the end Leeds were too good for Peterborough United, and we can now start dreaming of tomorrow night’s fourth round draw.

Daniel Farke made six changes to his starting line-up, but still fielded a strong side, with all those coming in having featured in numerous league games this season. Once change was enforced, with Byram’s injury meaning Firpo got a start, while it was Shackleton’s turn to have a go at right back to allow Archie Gray to revert to his favoured position in midfield.

Rutter was rested to allow Piroe to play in the deeper striking position behind Bamford, and with our embarrassment of riches in the wide positions we were hardly weakening the side by giving Anthony and Gnonto a game. The one disappointment for me was that Farke didn’t give Charlie Cresswell a chance, preferring to play Ampadu in a deeper defensive role.

The surface was a bit bobbly, which might have been tailor-made for a cup upset, but early on it was the home side who seemed to be having difficulty with it as they tried to play out from the back, though perhaps the quality of our press was a bit better than they were used to. A casual ball from Talley gifted Gray an excellent chance, but he could only send his shot straight back into the grateful arms of the keeper.

Then an excellent cross from Gnonto on the right picked out an unmarked Bamford, but he also sent the ball straight at Talley with his header. I thought those early missed chances were setting this up for one of our classic FA Cup exits, and we would regret them when they scraped a goal later in the game.

And my pessimism was in full swing as we moved towards the middle of the half as the Posh were coming more into the game. Mason-Clark was starting to give Shackleton a hard time, and they began to send more of their attacks down that flank. The unmarked Kyprianou wasted their best chance of this spell, when he sent a tame header beyond the far post, while Jones and Poku had shots blocked.

Gray sent yet another shot straight at the keeper, but the 34th minute saw us taking the lead in slightly bizarre circumstances. And not just because we scored from a free kick for the first time this season. With Greenwood away on loan Anthony seems to be the best set piece taker available, so for once we had a quality delivery into the box. Bamford met it and chested down for Ampadu to score from close range.

But that led to furious protests from the Peterborough defence and from Darren Ferguson on the touchline. Just for once Bamford wasn’t offside, but there have been suggestions that the defence stopped because they heard a second whistle from the stand, thinking the ref had blown for an infringement. But if it was a dodgy goal it’s a suitable revenge for the two we had disallowed in 1986.

Just before the break there another controversial decision went against us, with Gnonto being denied a penalty on the grounds that he had initiated the contact by sticking his leg to the side as he was challenged. It was an anxious moment as the Italian was already on a yellow card and the home side were suggesting he dived, and as usual Gnonto’s lack of control could well have brought a second yellow for dissent.

Darren Ferguson would no doubt have used his half-time team talk to get his players to believe they could get themselves back into the game, but they would have been thoroughly deflated again as Patrick Bamford scored one of the goals of the season only two minutes into the second period. I always said he was a great player.

A long ball from Ampadu from just inside our half found Bamford with his back to goal about 25 yards out. With the defender standing off him he had plenty of time to chest the ball down, but what happened next was magnificent. He swivelled and then hit a dipping volley, which gave Talley no chance as it flew over his head before dropping into the back of the net.

We could have gone further in front when Anthony sent a free kick just over the bar, and the same player went close when a shot from Gnonto was blocked and the rebound looped out him on the edge of the area. Anthony hit a fine volley, but once again Talley was in the right place at the right time to keep out the shot.

This kept Peterborough in the tie, and Ferguson made three attacking subs to try to carve out the goals they needed. Burrows sent a free kick just over the bar and Ajiboye sent the ball just wide from close range. Their best moment came when Mason-Clarke cut inside past Rodon and tried a shot from distance that flew just past the far post, before Klaesson finally had to make a save after Ajiboye’s deflected effort produced the Posh’s first shot on target.

Ayling came on for Shackleton to give the defence a bit more experience, and as time ran out Farke decided to replace both wide players and protect the defence with an extra midfielder, with Poveda, Kamara and James coming on for Anthony, Gnonto and Bamford. The final change came as we went into injury time, with Joseph replacing Piroe.

By that stage Peterborough were starting to look a little deflated, and the third goal arrived in the 90th minute. James swung a corner into the area, where the home defence had been kind enough to leave Ampadu completely unmarked, and he accepted the invitation to head the ball into the far corner of the net and seal the tie.

And that was it. Safely into the next round even though several regular first team starters were able to take a break. And let’s hope the fringe players can keep the run going, as long as it doesn’t distract us from the serious business of trying to get promoted. But is there any chance of a home draw this time?


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