SWINDON TOWN’S hopes of reaching a third Wembley final in five years were cruelly dashed when Peterborough won the JPT Area Final 4-3 on penalties, writes Andrew Steele-Davis.
Swindon were much the better team in the first half, attacking with panache while looking resolute and compact at the back.
They played with the sort of energy and enthusiasm which had been missing in recent home games against Shrewsbury and Oldham.
Alex Pritchard was a constant threat and more than deserved his goal which came as a result of some comedy defending from the visitors.
Posh looked laboured and lethargic and only troubled Town through £1.5m man Britt Assombalonga’s savage strike which forced a smart save out of Wes Foderingham.
The defence looked comfortably in control and a lot of credit for that has to go to Troy Archibald-Henville who has returned from injury to impose a real calming influence on the Town backline.
Not only is he a rock defensively, Troy looks composed with the ball at his feet and offers a real vibrant energy when driving forward, something that has perhaps been missing before his return. He has been like a new signing for Swindon.
However, the decision to sit back and adopt an overly cautious approach in the second half ultimately cost Town their place at Wembley.
Posh, who looked vulnerable and weak, were there for the taking but were allowed to claw their way back in the game due to Town’s reluctance to go for the jugular and claim what would have been a game-clinching second goal.
A misplaced pass from on-loan Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy, who otherwise enjoyed an impressive outing, played in Michael Bostwick whose cross was headed home with aplomb by Assombalonga.
Posh had two further chances to snatch victory late on, Foderingham tipping Grant McCann’s free kick wide before Tommy Rowe could only lash wildly into the side netting.
Town’s fate was decided on penalties with Massimo Luongo and Tijane Reis suffering the heartbreak of missing their respective spot-kicks.
It was a hammer blow for Swindon – as was the news that Nile Ranger’s season is probably over due to a hamstring tear – but they must recover quickly with a crucial game at League One high-fliers Leyton Orient on Saturday.