A fifteen minute hat trick from star of the show Brett Pittman helped condemn The Posh to defeat in their first away fixture as Peterborough United came crashing back down to Earth after such an encouraging start to the season.
The pre match feeling was positive. After receiving good news that McLean’s injury picked up against Rotherham in the League Cup midweek wasn’t as bad as first thought, The Posh boss, Gary Johnson, was able to name a pretty much un-changed team from Tuesday night with only Grant McCann returning to the first team after arriving back from international duty with Northern Ireland. Charlie Lee made way and was dropped to the bench.
‘Cherries’ boss Eddie Howe, who coincidently rejected an approach from Peterborough nearly 12 months ago, made two changes to his starting eleven as Michael Symes was brought into the line-up to make his competitive home debut after returning from injury with Marc Pugh the other home debutant, in a 4-4-2 formation. Ryan Garry and Danny Hollands took up their places on the bench after picking up minor injuries midweek.
Peterborough, after winning their first two games of the season and scoring 7 goals in the process, were looking to extend the good start to their season with victory at Dean Court. However, it was the home side that created the early pressure, winning 4 corners within the first 5 minutes of the match, despite no serious threat developing from them.
Instead of aiming to use the height advantage of the front two, manager Eddie Howe had obviously targeted the ‘Posh’ full backs by utilising the pure pace and trickery of the Bournemouth wide men. Their cause was helped by the fact that Posh’s wingers had a very attacking mentality, enabling the Bournemouth wingers more time and space on the ball whilst in the visitors half. Peterborough were struggling to settle into the game and could only manage a tame blocked effort from George Boyd before the ‘Cherries’ stamped their authority on the game. Only 9 minutes in and Liam Feeney used all the time and space provided to him by ‘Posh’ defender Nana to his advantage by delivering a tasty looking cross in from the right hand side. The ball was perfectly weighted for left winger MARC PUGH to power the ball passed Joe Lewis in the Peterborough goal to give the advantage to the home side, whilst embarrassing full back Mark Little who seemed to make a limited effort with his jump and positional sense.
A wake up call maybe? Perhaps not as the ‘Posh’ players seemed unable to pass the ball around with the freedom they wanted and Bournemouth refused to take their foot off the gas and continued to dominate proceedings. Only 10 minutes after the first goal Nana made a mistake in the middle of the park and gave the ball away to Michael Symes who played a simple through ball for ANTON ROBINSON to coolly slot the ball past the onrushing Joe Lewis and double the ‘Cherries’ advantage. Gary Johnson could only look on as a spectator and watch his side fall apart as they now faced an uphill struggle to salvage anything from the game.
The visitors arrived looking to continue their impressive scoring record, yet they were looking lacklustre, dejected and were failing to create any sort of move that resembled a fast flowing attacking force normally associated with the ‘Posh’ front three. Offensively, there were limited options. Mackail-Smith and McLean were chasing shadows upfront whilst George Boyd wasn’t his usual self and his first touch was one that, unfortunately, represented a conference player. On the right, Mendez-Laing was failing to impress the increasingly frustrated ‘Posh’ faithful with a somewhat fruitless performance. Going forward he was wasteful with possession and, whilst defending, he did an impressive impression of a maverick.
Despite this, McLean had a headed effort from a McCann set piece comfortably saved by birthday boy Shwan Jalal before Mackail-Smith came close after dragging his left footed effort across goal from a seriously acute angle, unfortunately no ‘Posh’ players were there to apply a finishing touch. Just before half time, Mclean had a desperate drive from distance, but to no avail, as Jalal, the former ‘Posh’ keeper, had a comfortable save to make.
The first half petered out and Jalal’s clean sheet against his former team was still firmly in tact as the ‘Posh’ faithful responded to the first half performance with a chorus of boos at the sound of the half time whistle. Contrastingly, the ‘Cherries’ on the other hand were delighted with their first half display as they easily controlled proceedings and looked comfortable sitting on their 2 goal cushion.
Gary Johnson was obviously livid with what he had witnessed in the first half and made several changes for the second half. The useless Mendez-Laing and full back Nana were replaced at the interval by Tommy Rowe and Charlie Lee in a makeshift 5-3-2 formation which contained 3 centre halves with wing backs with George Boyd moving into a central role in behind the front two.
The second half in the pouring rain got off to a controversial start as Mackail-Smith was brought down by Wiggins who clearly had his arms tugging at the former Dagenham and Redbridge striker. Despite the protests, referee Miller turned down the appeal. From my view, it looked a stone wall penalty.
Arguably, this could have been the turning point in the match; however, the home side went straight up the other end to consolidate their lead even further. Attacking on the counter attack and targeting the Peterborough defence out wide once again, Marc Pugh outpaced the newly introduced Charlie Lee who couldn’t keep up and Pugh cleverly pulled the ball back to BRETT PITTMAN who made no mistake and powered it home with his left foot to make it 3-0 to the home side, whilst crushing any sort of come back from ‘Posh’.
Moments later Pugh was again causing havoc for the ‘Posh’ defence as a slip from Lee allowed him in, but Lewis denied the former Bury wide man.
The visitors were denied a goal back by a mixture of good defending and woeful finishing as a corner from McCann was headed goal wards by former Shrewsbury man Kelvin Langmead, only for his effort to be cleared off the line by Robinson. The rebound fell nicely for Mackail-Smith, but his awful effort summed up the afternoon for his team as he had his effort cleared off the line again by Robinson, despite having the rest of the goal to aim at from close range.
The defence couldn’t help itself and Charlie Lee again had a lapse of concentration as he played a suicide ball back to Joe Lewis on 57 minutes which was easily intercepted by BRETT PITMAN who calmly skipped past Lewis and passed it into the Peterborough goal for his second of the afternoon.
At 4-0 before the hour mark, chants of “Cheerio cheerio cheerio” were aimed at the ‘Posh’ fans who were already streaming out of the stadium. But who could blame them? This was a horror show.
The desperation was clear to see as Mackail-Smith fired a 30 yard effort just wide of Jalal’s right post. The away side did reduce the deficit however as a corner from McCann was fired into the back of the net somehow by KELVIN LANGMEAD on 61 minutes. On watching the replay, it is still hard to see how the ball ends in the back of the net it is that scrappy.
Despite that, the visitors were still offering very little up front with only Tommy Rowe producing a couple of fine balls into the feet of the attacking players. It is a shame that they were so useless and couldn’t do anything with the ball.
On 68 minutes, the hosts added a fifth as BRETT PITMAN, the ‘Cherries’ top goal scorer last season, completed his quarter of an hour hat-rick with a fine right footed effort which shot past Lewis and into the bottom corner. Gary Johnson’s men just wanted the full time whistle there and then as there was a danger of a sixth or seventh for the home side as they ran riot.
Defender Bennett was replaced soon afterwards by Dave Hibbert, who went up front as Gary Johnson again changed the system to a what looked like a 4-2-4 formation.
The away side went more direct in the last 20 minutes, but this couldn’t stop the superb Marvin Bartley in the middle of the park dominating proceedings. Nor did it stop the chances flowing for the home side as Pitman again came close, but his shot went crashing into the side netting. The only ‘Posh’ reply was an optimistic effort by the substitute Hibbert, but his shot whistled inches past Jalal’s right hand post.
The game’s tempo remained impressive as the away side were exposed at the back with a lack of midfield for protection. However, in the closing stages, neither side could carve open an attack of any note as the ‘Posh’ players were keen to jump on the team bus and return back to Peterborough after an embarrassing performance.
Without sounding like a rant, the less said about this performance the better. Defensively, the worst performance I think I have ever witnessed from a Peterborough side which should really be impressive, especially at this level. What could go wrong, did go wrong for the defence and they are going to need to improve greatly at the thought of a home tie against Huddersfield next week. Going forward, we may as well have played our reserve or youth players as the main three did absolutely nothing.
I have to give praise however to Bournemouth and the manager Eddie Howe who was tactically spot on in this match. He pin pointed the clear weakness in the Peterborough starting eleven and exposed this to an extent which reaped disastrous results for anyone connected to Peterborough United as their promotion push was hit by an early stumbling block.
I got the feeling that Peterborough were expecting to just turn up and win whilst producing the beautiful football associated with the club in recent seasons. However, it is sometimes simply the case of digging in, of eschewing the tricks and relying on set pieces as much as the party pieces. Sometimes it goes down to endless endeavour, of going the extra yard and constantly throwing yourself into the challenges, even the 60-40 tackles against you. Peterborough need to learn how to win ugly.
For a more in depth tactical analysis, please visit http://posh.footballblog.co.uk/tactically-outclassed-gary-johnson-shoulder-responsibility-poshs-loss-today.html
Bournemouth: Jalal, Pearce, Bartley, Wiggins, Cooper, Pugh (sub Cummings 86min), Robinson, Purches, Symes (sub McQuiod 78min), Pitman. Feeney (sub Arter 85min) Unused subs: Stockley, Bradbury, Garry, Thomas.
Posh: Lewis, Nana (sub Rowe 46min), Little, Langmead, Bennett (sub Hibbert 68min), Wesolowski, McCann, Boyd, Mendez-Laing (sub Lee 46min), Mackail-Smith, Mclean. Unused subs: Collis, Piergianni, Davies, Tomlin.