West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray has warned his players they will have to be at their best if they are to survive next week’s FA Cup third round replay at Peterborough United.
Albion must visit London Road for the third time in 18 months after Craig Makail-Smith’s late equaliser at The Hawthorns on Saturday and Mowbray knows his side must reproduce the same professional performances that saw them knock Peterborough out of the Carling Cup and FA Cup last season.
With the carrot of a fourth round home tie against either Queens Park Rangers or Burnley dangling before both clubs, Mowbray has pledged that his side will be firing on all cylinders for the replay, which has been initially scheduled for Tuesday, January 13.
The 4,000 Peterborough fans among the 18,500 crowd at The Hawthorns were in strong vocal form on Saturday and Mowbray knows there will be a red-hot atmosphere at London Road but he feels that could go in Albion’s favour.
The Albion boss said his side suffered a problem common to other Premier League teams against lower league sides as they struggled to match the big game intensity of their opponents, who were gunning for an upset.
“The replay holds no fears for us but we are going to have to play well to get through the tie, as we managed to do twice last season at London Road,” he said.
“The intensity of the crowd will mean you have to be at your maximum and I am sure we will be on the night.
“If you look over the weekend generally it was the usual scenario for the cup with Premier League sides finding life difficult with lower league opposition.
“The problem for Premier League clubs is that the cup games are not as high profile as the league games, especially in the earlier rounds. The stadium on Saturday reflected that a little bit.
“They came with 4,000 supporters in a party atmosphere. It was a big day out for them and the players. Our players are used to a full stadium and a high-intensity, high-octane game and atmosphere.
“The replay will be a big, intense game with their crowd getting behind their team. They will still be the underdogs and they will be determined to take a Premier League scalp.
“Our players will have to be up for the big occasion, which we have been week in, week out, so it should hold no fears for us going there.
“We are happy with a home draw against a team from a lower division but as we found at the weekend, it is almost better to play away from home in these games because you go into a big, intense atmosphere at an away ground.
“You have to be ready for it, whereas at home the main noise is coming from the away supporters who are enjoying a big day out. So it can work against you a little.”
The attacking trio of Makail-Smith, Aaron McLean and George Boyd were Posh’s major weapons and combined for their equaliser in the 87th minute to set up the replay but Mowbray said he was not overly concerned about them.
“I didn’t really feel threatened during the match although they scored a goal,” he said. “In the league they play in they do score lots of goals.
“They are good boys and for Peterborough’s sake I hope they get promotion so they can hang on to them, and then they can test themselves in the Championship next year.”