FA Cup 4th Round: Peterborough United 0 West Bromwich Albion 3
There was none of the romance or magic that has become synonymous with the FA Cup as West Bromwich Albion cruised to victory in clinical fashion.
Tony Mowbray's side had effectively dashed any prospect of an upset after only 15 minutes by which point the burgeoning talents of Roman Bednar and Robert Koren had shocked the packed home crowd into silence. It spoke volumes.
All hope that existed among the 12,701 London Road crowd - the club's biggest attendance in six years - was quickly replaced by the stark realisation that a giant killing was not on the cards.
The opening exchanges had offered a slightly different view, with Posh's 38-goal strike pairing of Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith, causing problems.
Midfielder James Morrison cleared a McLean effort off the line during the opening exchanges but as Albion settled into their rhythm, it became clear that Peterborough's players and fans were there merely to make up the numbers.
The difference in quality was stark, a point conceded afterwards by Posh manager Darren Ferguson, who said that his side had been taught a footballing lesson.
His father, Sir Alex, would have been hard pushed to muster something from players at the break, but to his credit he did galvanise his side and an improved but short-lived start to the second half ensued.
Peterborough's misery was compounded ten minutes after the re-start when Jonathan Greening was clipped when clean through on goal by Chris Morgan and the defender was shown a red card by referee Jonathan Moss.
Kevin Phillips emphatically drilled the 57th-minute penalty to the goalkeeper's right for his 17th of the season. Contest over.
The 35-year-old was omitted from the starting line-up, possibly with Albion's league fixture at Preston tomorrow night in mind, but came on as a second-half substitute for Bednar, who was withdrawn at the break having failed to shake off flu-like symptoms.
The Czech marksman, whose opening goal was his 11th in as many starts, was a constant headache, a fact not lost his replacement who later admitted that the 25-year-old is one of the best finishers he has come across.
"He struggled when he first came but he has been outstanding recently," said Phillips. "Having worked with him day in and day out I can tell you his finishing is excellent. He is one of the best I have seen throughout my career - and I have played with some top players.
"I had never heard of him before he came here. Mark Venus [assistant manager] was trying to tell us about him before he arrived and we were like 'yeah okay then' but he has done brilliantly. He is a good bloke off the pitch as well, and that helps here. It was good professional performance today against a team that has been scoring goals for fun."
Given Bednar's obvious confidence and ability in front of goal it was no surprise that he had little trouble slotting home Albion's first on eight minutes, latching onto Craig Beattie's cross-cum-shot.
The finishing touches were preceded by some precise build up play down Albion's right flank, especially from a fleet-footed Filipe Teixeira.
Koren added the second six minutes later and with his strike any thoughts of FA Cup romance travelled North to Liverpool where part-timers Havant and Waterlooville had taken the lead.
A counter attack saw Craig Beattie release James Morrison down the right and after his sweetly struck shot had thundered against Mark Tyler's right hand post, the Slovenian gratefully tapped in the rebound.
Apart from the occasional foray, usually inspired by their much-vaunted strikers, Ferguson's side offered little in the way of sustained pressure on their Championship visitors.
Both his best players - plucked from non-League - provided some neat touches, but more often than not they came about in the middle third of the pitch where their impact could be easily kept in check by Martin Albrechtsen and Bostjan Cesar.
Dean Kiely was forced into action on a couple of occasions, the first tipping over a fierce effort from Charlie Lee's 20 yard strike and the second when he clawed away a Dean Keates header in the second half.
But Albion could have had more themselves, not least Teixeira who spurned a golden opportunity for 3-0 before the break after Paul Robinson's pinpoint cross had gifted him an unmarked header six yards out. His effort went wide.
While Albion's players and manager were complimentary of the home side's endeavour and work ethic afterwards, one suspects such kind words were more polite than heartfelt.
"We came out of the blocks pretty quickly so we have got to be happy with that," said Mowbray. "They are a team that has scored a lot of goals so we had to accept that they were going to create a few chances. But we are happy enough today.
"It is a tough place to come and they have some very good attacking players."
Unsurprisingly, Mowbray took the opportunity - as did his players - to emphasise that the team's main focus remains on the bigger financial prizes offered by promotion to the Premier League. That might be why the fifth round draw today will not cause too much excitement or apprehension at The Hawthorns: It's the millions over the so-called magic every time.
"We will take whatever comes," said Mowbray. "If it is one of the big four clubs then that's fine - but if you look at it realistically, we are not going to win the FA Cup. Is it a benefit for us to be here?
"It is nice for the fans to be a part of a cup run and the directors enjoy the fact we may draw Man United in the next round and earn a few quid, although I am not sure we need a few quid.
"We are striving for the Premiership. That's our main target and let's hope the cup doesn't get in the way although we will maintain a responsibility to do well in it.
"When I played the Premiership wasn't as prevalent, the money wasn't so huge and the great urgency to get in the Premier League wasn't there. The FA Cup was also still a trophy you could win. But the money involved in the Premiership has diminished the competition. I do not think that's a controversial thing to say because there's no contest when you compare the two."
Mowbray also confirmed that the signing of Michal Danek, the Czech goalkeeper, is likely to be completed today. n Albion defender Neil Clement is set to sign for Premier League strugglers Fulham on loan until the end of the season.
Clement, aged 29, has made just two senior starts for manager Tony Mowbray this season because of a knee injury.
Scorers: Bednar (7), Koren (15), Phillips (pen, 58).
PETERBOROUGH UNITED (4-4-2): Lewis; Newton, Morgan, Charnock, Day; Whelpdale, Keates (Mitchell 76), Lee, Boyd; Mackail-Smith, McLean. Subs: McKeown, Crow, Gnakpa, Blanchett.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-4-2): Kiely; Hoefkens, Albrechtsen, Cesar, Robinson; Morrison, Koren, Greening (Brunt 64), Filipe Teixeira; Bednar (Phillips, 46), Beattie (MacDonald, 78). Subs: Steele, Barnett.
Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).
Booked: Peterborough - Lee; Albion - Hoefkens, Beattie. Sent off: Peterborough - Morgan (professional foul).
Albion man Of The match: Roman Bednar's first half performance soon underlined Albion's class against the Posh.