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Posh Boss Barry Fry
"This is the greatest achievement of my life"
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The BBC's Steve Wilson
"Who would deny Barry Fry his madcap run"
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Friday, 26 May, 2000, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Posh pull it off at Wembley
Andy Clarke celebrates his decisive goal at Wembley
Andy Clarke celebrates his decisive goal at Wembley
Peterborough 1-0 Darlington

Barry Fry's Peterborough side withstood a first-half onslaught before grabbing a vital goal to win the Third Division play-off against Darlington at Wembley on Friday.

Andy Clarke's strike on 73 minutes turned the game on its head in the second half after Peterborough had struggled to get into the match.

The goal sent the Blue half of Wembley delirious while Fry sprinted down the touchline for his characteristic celebration.

After the match, Fry said: "Darlington started the better side by a mile - their experience told and they passed it around.

The only disappointment was that we only got one goal because that was no good for my ticker

Peterborough boss Barry Fry

"The occasion got to us and I was relieved to get in at half-time at 0-0.

"But after a few choice words - like 'come on chaps, you can do better than that' - I think we played great in the second half and created loads of chances.

"The only disappointment was that we only got one goal because that was no good for my ticker."

Goal hero Clarke added: "It's the best moment of my life.

"I had a bad start to the game and got a bit of a roasting in the dressing room. But we raised our game and I had a couple of chances before and after the goal. I'm very happy with the goal I got."

Gabbiadini, who has already hit three goals past Posh this season, led by example in the first half, when Peter Duffield and Neil Heaney came within inches of claiming an opening goal.

Steve Castle and Darlington's Brian Atkinson
Steve Castle and Darlington's Brian Atkinson

Torrential rain had left the usually-plush Wembley pitch drenched, with players forced to play in conditions more suited to a November evening than a late-May play-off showpiece.

Gabbiadini was first to threaten. He nodded wide from a Michael Oliver cross, then dragged a pull-back wide after nine minutes.

He then tore Peterborough apart down the left flank three minutes later, cutting inside letting fly from the edge of the box, a deflection sending the ball ballooning over Mark Tyler's goal.

The Blues were forced to play without left-back Adam Drury for 10 minutes when he dashed off for treatment to a head-wound caused by Heaney's lunge.

Interval roasting

It was the north-east team who were enjoying the better of the match, and the Quakers hitman Peter Duffield came closest to breaking the deadlock on 27 minutes.

Michael Oliver gave him a shooting chance 10 yards from goal but a last-gasp tackle from Simon Rea pressured the Darlington attacker and his shot clipped the outside of the post.

As the whites charged forwards, Duffield played a clever one-two with Oliver and his shot went just wide.

Darlington's Neil Aspin slipped on 49 minutes, giving Peterborough's Clarke a clear sight of goal. His side-foot shot beat keeper Andy Collett but, agonisingly for Boro's 25,000-strong support, the strike trickled just the wrong side of the far post.

Posh boss Barry Fry had some choice words to say at half-time and his side played with much greater purpose in the opening stages of the second period.

The fans sensed the first goal could win the match - and promotion - and Wembley echoed to magnificent support from both sets of supporters.

When Peterborough's Edwards chased a bouncing ball back alongside Gabbiadini he appeared to bring the frontman down, but the referee was not impressed.

Gabbiadini forced a diving stop from Blues keeper Mark Tyler before Liddle pulled off a candidate for tackle of the season after Clarke skipped round Collett, sliding full length to scoop the ball away from the striker's path.

Peterborough: Tyler, Drury, Scott, Edwards, Farrell, Clarke, Cullen, Jelleyman, Castle, Rea, Oldfield.
Subs: Wicks, Gill, Griemink, Green, Hanlon.

Darlington: Collett, Liddle, Tutill, Aspin, Heckingbottom, Gray, Oliver, Atkinson, Heaney, Gabbiadini, Duffield.
Subs: Brumwell, Holsgrove, Naylor, Nogan, Samways.
Referee: M Dean (Heswall)

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