A Scott Sinclair hat-trick meant that Swansea avoided a cup upset but, ultimately, the game was spoilt by referee Nigel Miller.
Before the game both managers had stated their desire to win and the starting line-ups of both sides represented this. Gary Johnson named as strong a line-up as he possibly could but injuries to the central midfield pairing of Grant McCann and James Wesolowski meant that Charlie Lee and Chris Whelpdale were playing as the duo in the centre of midfield. Nana was also brought into the starting line-up at right back.
Brendon Rodgers made seven changes to the side that started in Swansea’s league game at the weekend bringing in David Cotterill to start on the right wing and Stephen Dobbie to play the lone role up-front, amongst others, in Swansea’s formation which obviously looks to utilise the pace on both wings. Yves Makabu-Makalambay was also handed his first start of the season in goal.
The Championship side immediately showed their quality, forcing Joe Lewis into a save in the opening stages after Scott Sinclair had been given too much time to cut inside and fire a shot away by Nana.
This warning sign obviously didn’t alert Posh’s defence too much to the danger of Sinclair’s pace because moments later he was gifted another chance, this time he took it as well. After Chris Whelpdale had given away possession sloppily, Sinclair danced around four Peterborough United defenders, who seemed mesmerised by the wingers quick feet, before he was through on goal and although the initial shot was saved by Lewis, the ball, after a series of ricochets, the final one coming off SCOTT SINCLAIR, ended up in the back of the net.
Posh were unbeaten at home up to now and weren’t simply going to let the Championship team progress without putting up a fight and the hosts were back on level terms within an instant of falling behind. Charlie Lee made an excellent run into the penalty area before firing the ball back across the goal-line for CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH to tap into an empty net from six yards out.
Craig Mackail-Smith scored once but should have added a few more to his tally.
Inspired by this goal Peterborough went close to taking the lead moments later, in similar fashion to the first goal, when Mackail-Smith’s cut back was directed towards goal by Aaron McLean but Makabu-Makalambay made a good save. The Posh looked as if they had settled into the game now and, with the confidence of drawing level, they were carving up a make-shift Swansea defence with ease.
The hapless referee, Nigel Miller, was called into action for the first time in the match, although it wasn’t to be the last, mid-way through the first half when Mackail-Smith had rounded Makabu-Makalambay in the Swansea goal and was clearly brought down by the ‘keeper inside the penalty area. The referee pondered over the decision, which, if given as a foul, would had to have been a red card to the Swansea goal-keeper for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, before pointing for a goal-kick. In this decision he was clearly showing that Makabu-Makalambay didn’t touch the ball, Mackail-Smith also didn’t dive but apparently the obvious foul didn’t warrant a penalty.
After numerous good runs from Sinclair the Peterborough defence were beginning to look a little scared of the pacey wide-man and it was evident as he tore past Nana and Mendez-Laing, who both appeared to run away from the winger, and fired a shot on target but Joe Lewis was equal to it and turned the shot over the cross-bar.
Again the referee was called into action. This time twice in a matter of moments with Posh having legitimate penalty claims turned down both times. Firstly, Mackail-Smith ran in behind the ‘Swans’ defence and was sliced down by Ashley Williams, from behind, but the referee chose to give a corner much to the strikers disbelief. Moments later the striker was in behind the ‘Swans’ defence again and this time appeared to be grappled to the floor inside the 18 yard box but the referee allowed play to go on and the ball rolled gratefully into the Swansea goal-keeper’s hands. A chorus of boos rang out around London Road but Mr. Miller seemed unperturbed.
It wasn’t long before Sinclair was back in the action again, as he proved a constant threat. A clever through-ball from Darren Pratley released SCOTT SINCLAIR into space and, after Nana was caught the wrong side of the attacker, the former Chelsea player had time to pick his spot before coolly slotting the ball beyond Lewis in the Peterborough goal.
Sinclair, here shown celebrating against Burnley, was impressive.
The goal, which was struck just before half-time, was naturally a disappointment for the Posh fans who had seen their team look very competitive during the first half. The pace of the Welsh side’s wingers was obviously causing problems though, with Sinclair looking particularly dangerous. Swansea did have a very impressive ability of exploding into life at times, after retaining possession comfortably, due to the pace the possessed in their side.
Both sides were looking to add another soon after the break with George Boyd firing just wide after his shot was deflected just wide by Ashley Williams block, to be fair Makabu-Makalambay seemed to have the shot covered. Joe Lewis at the other end certainly didn’t have Scott Sinclair’s curling effort covered moments later but he was grateful to see the ball travel past his left hand up-right.
Nigel Miller was back to his worst again with an absolutely shocking decision. Mackail-Smith was played through, with his pace exploiting the ‘Swans’ defence, and he was clearly bundled over by Albert Serran on his way through on goal but yet again Mr. Miller chose to give absolutely nothing and the ball trickled away to safety.
Gary Johnson decided to re-shuffle his side due to the fact Swansea were having far too much time on the ball, especially as they entered the Peterborough United half – Stephen Dobbie and Jordi Lopez had both gone close as a result of this space. Chris Whelpdale was replaced, after having to play out of position due Posh’s injury crisis, with Lee Tomlin coming on. George Boyd filled in the central midfield position, in a more advanced position than Whelpdale was previously playing in, with Lee Tomlin playing a similar role to what George Boyd was previously on the left hand side.
Lee Tomlin made an impact after coming off the bench.
Stephen Dobbie, who is normally so clinical in-front of goal, missed a sitter as the game wore on after a free-kick was floated in from the right but the striker somehow fluffed his lines and fired wide of Joe Lewis’ goal. The game would have surely been over had that chance gone in.
This was the start of a Posh fight-back though and the hosts were now playing some of their most flowing football of the game. First Boyd went close and then, after some great passing including a wonderfully skilled flick from Mackail-Smith, Charlie Lee fired inches wide of the post. Lee’s shot had certainly been saved but neither linesman nor the awful Nigel Miller spotted the ball touch the Swansea goalkeeper and gave a goal kick much to Posh fans and player’s disgust.
Craig Mackail-Smith then had a glorious opportunity to put Peterborough back on level terms but somehow the striker managed to put the ball over from three yards out, when it was probably harder to miss than score. The chance came after some superb work from Lee Tomlin carved out the opportunity.
Posh were made to pay for their missed chances just moments later when SCOTT SINCLAIR completed his hat-trick. The chance was created by some excellent Swansea passing a clever back-heel from Stephen Dobbie, who freed Sinclair, and Sinclair made no mistake putting the ball, calmly, into the far corner to score his third of the night.
Scott Sinclair has been in fine form since joining Swansea.
The game seemed to lose some of its impetuous after this goal with Posh knowing that their chance of winning had probably gone. Johnson’s substitution to hand Jay Davies his Peterborough United debut also showed this. However, Mackail-Smith was handed a chance to make amends for his earlier miss after a great pass from Tomlin, but his shot was poor and was comfortably saved by the Swansea goal-keeper.
Posh showed that they are not far off being a competitive Championship out-fit with that display; we certainly tested Swansea until the end and had we been more clinical it may well have been a very different outcome. It also shows that, if we do managed to achieve promotion, players will need to be added to the squad as it was a common feature in Peterborough United matches to feel that the game could have so easily been different on another day when we were playing at that level last season. The fact is at Championship level teams are very clever, once they have taken the lead they don’t over-commit and Swansea were obviously no different; they looked an accomplished side at that standard and clearly had a lot of class. If we get promoted we’re not far off being able to compete but we will need to add a little bit more class and a little more guile.
Another thing that I have to mention is the referee. This, quite frankly, was the worst refereeing performance I have ever seen. Abject from start to finish Nigel Miller clearly needs to have his eyes tested, or just simply learn the rules of football. I honestly don’t think he was biased; he was merely woeful. It is a common feature with him though – at Derby last season he was also terrible and if you type “Nigel Miller referee” into Google the second link shows an angry Birmingham fan bemoaning his performance. The F.A seriously need to look into who they are allowing to referee football matches that people pay good money for because, frankly, this man shouldn’t be allowed to be in charge of a Sunday League match.
Nigel Miller was terrible throughout.
Take nothing away from the visitors though. They were a good team and had the ability to explode into life with the pace that they have on either wing. It was clear our defence did not know how to handle this for most of the match and they could have made the score-line look a lot more comfortable than it was in the end, even though we missed chances ourselves. Much has been made of Cardiff’s chances of promotion this season but after seeing that display there may well be another Welsh side in with a chance of making the Premier division at the end of the season.
Swansea: Makabu-Makalambay, Jazz Richards, Albert Serran, Ashley Williams, Alan Tate, Jordi Lopez (Mark Gower, 67 minutes), Darren Pratley, Cedric Van Der Gun (Joe Allen, 70 minutes), David Cotterill, Scott Sinclair (Nathan Dyer, 62 minutes), Stephen Dobbie.
Peterborough United Player Ratings
Joe Lewis, 6 – Had little chance with any of Sinclair’s goals.
Seth Nana, 4 – Has failed to impress at right back and clearly had a lot to learn positionally. Substituted for Jay Davies (5) in the 84th minute.
Kelvin Langmead, 5 – Caught out for pace for Sinclair’s first goal but relatively solid after that.
Gabriel Zakuani, 6 – Decent performance which saw the centre back make some crucial blocks.
Tommy Rowe, 7 – Very good game from Tommy Rowe who seemed the only Peterborough United defender who was totally at ease with dealing with Swansea’s pace.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, 5 – He’s improving and is a threat going forward but defensively he still has much to learn. Substituted for Dave Hibbert (5) in the 70th minute.
Chris Whelpdale, 4 – Out of position and it showed. Didn’t offer the defence much protection and gave the ball away far too easily. Substituted for Lee Tomlin (6) in the 56th minute.
Charlie Lee, 8 – This was more like the Charlie Lee that won two player of the year awards. He battled, was brave and created a lot of chances.
George Boyd, 5 – His last two performances haven’t been great but it’s still obvious that he has the ability to be a match-winner.
Aaron McLean, 7 – Great work ethic from McLean, he provided some very good link up play as well.
Craig Mackail-Smith, 6 – Unfortunate not to get a penalty on more than one occasion and was tireless with his running. Did score, but he still should have added to his tally for the season by more than one.