SWINDON Town missed out on this year’s JPT Trophy Final losing by 4-3 on penalties to Peterborough after the teams had drawn 1-1 in normal time, writes Adrian Smith.
The two teams had drawn 2-2 at London Road, Peterborough in the first leg of the Southern Area Final but it was Peterborough who won through to the Final on March 30th.
Alex Pritchard had given Town the lead in the first half but the Robins were pegged back by Britt Assombolonga’s 75th minute header so it was left to the lottery of penalties to decide the winners of this tie.
Mark Cooper was forced to make changes to his line up with Nile Ranger (injury), Nathan Thompson (suspension), Michael Smith (cup tied) missing out and they were replaced by Jacob Murphy, Yaser Kasim and Raphael Rossi-Branco.
Nathan Byrne was the first Town player to try his luck with a shot from distance in the 3rd minute after a patient build up but his effort flew over the crossbar and two minutes later Assombolonga responded for Posh with a header from close range which also went over the bar.
The referee Keith Stroud took centre stage in the 14th minute when Dany N’Guessan went down in the penalty area under a defender’s clumsy challenge appealing for a penalty but the official decided to allow play to continue taking no action.
Swindon were awarded a free kick in a central position about 30 yards from goal but Alex Pritchard’s free kick did not trouble the visiting keeper Bobby Olejnik as the ball flew high and wide.
Peterborough were growing stronger as the half wore on and Craig Alcock gave Town a scare in the 22nd minute but his tame cross flew straight into Foderingham’s waiting hands. Shortly afterwards Assombolonga used his pace to set up a shooting chance for Jack Payne but his effort from 25 yards flew high over the bar.
At the other end Pritchard carved out a good opportunity for himself tricking his way past a defender before sending a shot only just over the crossbar.
Swindon took the lead in the 32nd minute after a throw in from Byrne reached Massimo Luongo and he sent a superb ball across the face of goal where it was lashed against N’Guessan by Alcock and fell nicely for Alex Pritchard who gleefully fired home from 6 yards. The goal lifted the volume around the County Ground although Peterborough attacked strongly with Alcock trying to atone for his mistake but he fired over from close range.
Michael Bostwick was cautioned for a late challenge near the halfway line as the match tempo increased in the 36th minute and Kasim was also cautioned for a foul on Swanson.
Mark Little found himself with space in the 40th minute but he was charged down by Pritchard and the danger was gone.
Dany N’Guessan linked up well with Jacob Murphy to set up a shooting chance for Luongo but his first time effort went high and wide.
Town had a corner in the 45th minute after Pritchard’s shot was deflected wide and when the cross was sent over, Branco tumbled in an off the ball incident and then the Town defender was shown a yellow card for clipping a defenders ankles as he ran back downfield.
The half finished with Posh having had a sustained spell of possession but it was the Robins’ fans who were the happiest at the break.
Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson replaced Kyle Vassell at half time with recent signing Josh McQuoid in an effort to try and get back in the match with so much at stake.
The first main action of the half saw Dany N’Guessan guess correctly when he anticipated a defensive backpass from Knight-Percival to his keeper and he nipped in to fire a shot which beat the keeper but the ball struck the outside of the post.
The visitors were pushing hard for an equaliser with most of their attacking down the right wing without getting a clear shot on goal.
Dany N’Guessan needed treatment after landing heavily while challenging for the ball and he lay postrate while Town attacked until the referee halted play but he was able to rejoin play after a short spell on the touchlines.
Massimo Luongo put in an important challenge in the 59th minute to halt a Posh attack and he charged forward to gain a corner when his pass was deflected behind but the cross was cleared.
Grant McCann replaced Payne in the 59th minute as Posh grew increasingly desperate to get an equaliser but the Town defence were standing firm.
Peterborough seemed to step up a gear as the half wore on and it was little surprise when Assombolonga headed home from close range in the 75th minute after the ball had been crossed from the Posh right wing.
Swindon attacked strongly and earned a corner but were penalised for an off the ball incident and the chance was gone.
Dany N’Guessan had clearly been struggling and was substituted in the 81st minute by Ben Gladwin.
Danny Swanson was shown a yellow card for fouling Kasim on the halfway line in the 84th minute and Jacob Murphy was replaced shortly afterwards by Tijane Reis.
The majority of the County Ground crowd of 6829 was trying their best to roar the Robins on with the home side enjoying plenty of possession without being able to get a clear shot on goal.
The 4th official indicated that four minutes of added time would be played shortly before the referee harshly penalised Kasim on the edge of the penalty area but Foderingham did well to McCann’s shot around the post for a corner.
The second half ended with Posh attacking strongly but the final whistle was blown to end normal time and so the Southern Area Final Winners would be decided by penalties.
The toss was made to decide which end the penalties would be taken and the decision was that the kicks would be taken towards the Stratton Bank.
PENALTIES (SWINDON FIRST)
Massimo Luonhgo – penalty blasted over the bar 0 -0
Britt Asombolonga - scored straight down the middle 0 -1
Yaser Kasim – scored straight down the middle 1 - 1
Michael Bostwick – scored to the left of Foderingham 1 - 2
Alex Pritchard – scored to the right of Olejnik 2 -2
Danny Swanson – saved by Foderingham 2-2
Troy Archibald-Henville - scored to the right of Olejnik 3-2
Grant McCann – scored to right of Foderingham 3-3
Tijane Reis – missed way wide of the goal 3-3
Tommy Rowe – scored to right of Foderingham 3-4
PETERBOROUGH WON 4-3 ON PENALTIES
Swindon Town: Foderingham, Byrne, Archibald-Henville, Ward (C), Branco, Kasim, Thompson L, Luongo, Pritchard, N'Guessan, Murphy
Subs: Belford, Reis, Harley, Barthram, Gladwin
Full match commentary is available on STFC Player while live text updates will appear on the official club Twitter and Facebook accounts.
A full report and reaction from players and management will appear on the official website later this evening.