Oxford United went out of the Emirates FA Cup in the First Round this afternoon when goals from Siriki Dembele and Jack Taylor gave Peterborough United a 2-1 win at the Kassam Stadium, despite Josh Ruffels' goal levelling things at half time.
United again played well against the early League 1 leaders but having come back from 1-0 down were not quite able to repeat the trick, despite late pressure in what turned out to be a fine FA Cup tie.
The opener came amid then five seconds of good old-fashioned cup controversy. Mide Shodipo, tricky throughout, could easily had been awarded a penalty at one end when he nutmegged a defender and was seemingly tripped from behind. Instead the play continued, Peterborough went to the other end. Louis Reed wasn’t waiting for his man as he slipped the ball through and Dembele, looking suspiciously offside, sprinted further clear and beat the helpless Jack Stevens for an opening goal that infuriated Karl Robinson so much he was shown a yellow card.
United bounced back in impressive style and skipper Matty Taylor volleyed a difficult chance over the fence, Moore flicked another header too close to the keeper and Shodipo curled another effort wide as they pushed for an equaliser.
United do have a threat at set pieces in Moore and Long, coupled with Forde’s excellent delivery and in the end that was what got them level right on the break. Forde sent a free kick into the box, the centre halves attacked it and Ruffels stabbed the loose ball home at the near post to leave the game evenly poised at 1-1 at the break.
The game then went end to end for the second period. Stevens made a good save but the U's were matching their table-topping visitors all over the pitch when Kent restored the Posh's one-goal advantage.
It was a scrappy goal and United maybe had chances to clear their lines but in the end Taylor's low shot from the edge of the box crept inside the right-hand post via a deflecton and United again had to come from behind.
They tried. Shodipo saw a deflection loop his drive onto the roof of the net and the attacking threat of subs Sam Winnall, Joel Cooper and Dylan Asonganyi gave them late impetus, but it's not just their attacking options that have made the Posh the top team so far in League 1. They defend well, are well organised and on this occasion proved impossible to break down. When United did get a sight at goal, Pym palmed away a superb Shodipo piledriver on 89 minutes and an injury time free kick from Forde was too close to Pym, and that was about it.
No FA Cup glory this year then but nothing left on the pitch and a full-blooded effort from the U's, who had once again shown they can match the team at the top.
Cup dreams packed away for another 12 months. Time to concentrate on league points instead.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels