As the politically spell-checked message from Michael Defty put it, a shot day at the office. You’ve seen the results, you’ve read the initial (knee-jerk) reactions, so you’ll know that we went to the Posh, lost our unbeaten record in pretty spectacular style, and, to round things off nicely, our discipline.
A sunny stop-off in Stamford, which made a nonsense of my researching Grantham, included a total of about 200 steps from the bus to the Golden Fleece, London Inn, Cosy Club, and Millstone – it doesn’t half help if you find the correct place to park the bus. Having escaped the clutches of not one but two hen parties (is this Blackpool?), we were in Peterborough in time for a sweaty half hour in/on Charters, the floating refreshment stop where we met up with Wensleydale Trev and young Liam. There seemed precious few home fans about, and once we’d taken our seats, it appeared that we had about 1/3 of the crowd backing us. Of course, there was the obligatory mag, who didn’t even last until kick-off (are they sponsored by Sky Sports?) which was taken by the home side as we defended the goal in front of the “end” that we occupied.
O’Nien Willis Ozturk McLaughlin
Gooch Power Leadbitter McGeady
No Hume or Maguire, which was a real shame, as you never want to lose someone who’s just scored a hat-trick.
I know it’s probably stupid, but I just don’t trust keepers with short sleeves – probably a lingering worry form the 1998 Play-Offs and Lionel’s mad charge at a corner he was never going to reach – so to see Big Jon’s forearms bared put me in a mood from the off. Anyway, we got the nest shot away, with McGeady cutting in from the left to curl one wide of the far angle of post and crossbar, then our sleeveless keeper he did well to stop a shot from distance and generally did OK as Willis and Ozturk dealt with Toney. Maddison, who we seem to have built up to some Pele-like figure, was an OK performer for them, but in reality wasn’t doing anything to justify his place on a pedestal. Look, he’s a good player, but f he was half as efficient as has been made out, he’d be at Boro or West Brom, not Peterborough. In a sport where confidence is a huge part of the game, we’ve given him a huge boost with our constant clamour for his signature.
In a fairly even period of play, we upped the tempo with move involving Wyke, McNulty, and McGeady. Which ended with a free when the final pass hit McNulty’s arm. Unfortunate to say the least, but the game was shaping up into an interesting contest, with them feeding Maddison at every opportunity and Toney trying to turn our central defence, while Power and Leadbitter played the patient game, endeavouring to get it wide to McGeady and Gooch. Unfortunately, the first 15 of any game seems to dictate how McGeady’s remaining 75 pan out, and as he didn’t get much change in that early period, his shoulders seemed to hunch up that bit more. The ref, who’d had a fairly up and down first half hour, which I can happily take, then blew for a foul on Toney which was no such thing (see comments later on for more evidence of play-acting by the ice-cream man). From at least 25 yards, Maddison smacked it home and will quite rightly get the credit for a well-taken goal, but McLaughlin’s positioning was awful, as the shot was nowhere near the corner of the goal. Short sleeves, see?
We stayed in contention for the rest of the half, including the added minute, with McNulty going sort of close as their keeper pushed his effort wide of the far post, but we probably deserved to be narrowly behind at the break.
No changes for the second half, and with us now attacking the goal behind which most of our fans were massed, we roared the Lads forward – and we responded with a bright start to the half. However, it was the home side who did the effective thing seven minutes in, with a swift break ending when Knight smacked it across McLaughlin and into the far corner. Game over, I thought. No way we were going to get three or even two at this rate. We brought on Grigg for Gooch, who’d not been that bad but this swap seems to be in Ross’s notebook every week, and went a bit top-heavy with Will flitting across the field behind Big Chas and McNulty.
There was hope of at least a consolation when McNulty ran onto a great ball from Leadbitter, but a defender hoyed himself in the way and the effort was blocked. Just after the hour, it really was all over when Maddison fired through Ozturk’s legs and beyond McLaughlin for the third. The Posh fans were having a lovely afternoon, and one in particular decided to spend the rest of the game winding us up – I know, we should be big enough and old enough not to rise to the bait, but sometimes you just get fed up. The steward did inform me that it was all on CCTV and the individual in question wouldn’t be getting in next game. A bit of nothing, really, nut it made me feel a bit better as he’d been sitting with the mag before the game and therefore is deserving of any punishment that Peterborough decide to mete out. (I have photos, if you’re interested. You’re not? Obvious. He is a funny looking bugger, though.)
The it got daft. You remember I said the ref had been a bit up and down? Well, with 20 to go he most definitely had a downturn. As the ball went for a throw, Toney shielded it, O’Nien put his arms around in an effort to get hold of the ball, and their man went down holding his face. Red card to the wrong man, and the video evidence, if indeed they deign to use such technology in League One, will exonerate Luke and land their man with a hefty ban. Outrageous gamesmanship and awful refereeing, as the official couldn’t possibly have seen what he thought he had - and nothing to help him from the linesman, who must have seen what happened. On came Flanagan for McNulty, which sort of made sense as Ross tried to shore up the defence as Tom slotted into the hole left by Luke’s departure.
Dobson replaced McGeady, who’d danced about in typical fashion but to little effect for 75 minutes, and it got worse when Wyke, already booked, clattered his man out on our left and was off with a second yellow, and the remaining thirteen minutes, plus six added for general fannying about, was all about Peterborough doing the sensible thing and letting the ball do the work as they pulled us all over the place. Yong George ran about admirably, as you have to when there’s only another eight of you, but obviously to no effect other than to keep it at three.
There was time for Toney to head wide as we just dug in to keep the score-line sort of reasonable, if indeed 0-3 can be termed reasonable, then it was all over and we headed for our transport, shaking our heads in disbelief. Second string wallop a Premier League side on Wednesday, first-choice eleven walloped by Peterborough three days later – what’s the world coming to?
Man of the Match? A hard one when you’ve been thumped in such decisive fashion, and there were precious few positives to take from the afternoon other than the weather. Wyke had battled away, usually with a handful of his shirt in an opponent’s hands, but hey – refs can’t be expected to penalise that sort of thing, can they? I’ll probably give it to Leadbitter, as he did provide a handful of half-decent through balls and tried manfully to provide a fulcrum for his team-mates to work from.
Nowt to write home about.