A sensational strike from George Boyd helps shoot down the Bluebirds to cause one of the upsets of the round as The Posh come from behind to claim their passage into the third round.
Posh boss Gary Johnson was forced to make a change for the match against Championship side Cardiff City as an injury to full back Mark Little meant Nana had to fill in at right back as Tommy Rowe marked his first start of the season at left back after impressing in a couple of substitute appearances so far this season. Other than this forced change, it was the same starting eleven that overcame Huddersfield in a thrilling encounter last Saturday. It was encouraging news for Posh fans to see centre half Gabriel Zakuani named on the subs bench as he continues his quest for fitness.
Understandably, there has been lots of media attention on Cardiff City in recent times as the Welsh club have pulled off a huge transfer coup by signing Craig Bellamy from Manchester City on loan. However the star of the show at the weekend against Doncaster, who netted with a splendid free kick from 30 yards, didn’t even travel with the squad to Peterborough. Also left out of the squad was Scotsman Ross McCormack with the attacker appearing to be Leeds-bound. In addition, injuries to Kevin McNaughton and Michael Chopra meant that Jason Koumas and Lee Naylor came into the starting eleven. The only other change included Anthony Gerrard coming in for Gabor Gyepes, who dropped to the bench.
From the first minute it was Cardiff who seemingly dictated possession and it was the visitors who had the first effort on goal as a Koumas cross into the box fell to Chris Burke at the back post, but the former Glasgow Rangers winger only managed to screw the ball wide of the target.
Minutes later, it was the hosts turn for their first shot on goal as George Boyd saw a swerving 20 yard effort crash only into the side netting, although it certainly had Tom Heaton in the Cardiff goal scrambling across his line. Despite this effort from the Posh, Cardiff resumed their domination with Seyi Olofinjana particularly impressing in the middle of the park dictating the pattern of play. Olofinjana himself nearly scored after a long throw from full back Adam Mathews caused havoc in the Posh box, but after the ball fell at his feet, his effort fired wide of Joe Lewis and his goal.
The Bluebirds continued to stamp their authority on the early stages of the game as they nearly took the lead after 22 minutes as Jason Koumas hit a well struck volley inches over Joe Lewis’s goal. The long throws of Adam Mathews continued to pose a threat for the Posh defence but the back line was determined to remain strong. Danny Drinkwater connected with a Mathews throw and, after beating his marker, hit a low drive towards the bottom corner, unfortunately for the travelling fans, the ball dragged wide of the Posh goal. Drinkwater was posing an attacking threat in and around the box and on 27 minutes he set up Jason Koumas, but his shot was easy enough for Joe Lewis to save.
The Bluebirds were asking questions of the Posh defence, but they continued to remain solid under constant pressure from the likes of Peter Whittingham and particularly Jay Bothroyd who was looking impressive at holding up the ball and creating openings for his Cardiff side. Bothroyd came close himself, but Lewis made another stop as he prevented the tall strikers’ header.
The Posh looked unable to cope with the visitor’s pressure and unsurprisingly they duly took the lead after 31 minutes after a neat passage of play. The dominative figure of Olofinjana picked up the ball and played it to Danny Drinkwater before passing the ball out left to wide man Koumas who produced an inch perfect delivery onto the head of JAY BOTHROYD who nodded the ball beyond the despairing grasp of Posh keeper Joe Lewis. Bothroyd rarely misses from a few yards out and Cardiff were looking comfortable.
An injury to Seyi Olofinjana a minute later however meant he had to be substituted and was replaced by Stephen McPhail. This was to have a big effect on the outcome of the game. In fact, The Posh seemed to jump into life as soon as the Nigerian had departed the pitch. The home side began to knock the ball around with confidence in the middle of the pitch and, after some nice interchanges; McLean saw a goal bound effort blocked by Mark Hudson before the resulting corner was headed over by Ryan Bennett.
Arron Davies exploded into life on 37 minutes against the club he supports as he saw a stinging effort fizzle into the hands of Tom Heaton. Moments later, Heaton was again called into action as Posh captain Grant McCann saw his powerful twenty yarder pushed round the post by the former Manchester United youngster as the home side appeared more interested in this Carling Cup tie.
Just before half time, Cardiff nearly doubled their advantage as Stephen McPhail, from a Peter Whittingham cross, saw his effort cleared off the line by Ryan Bennett. A close shave for the Posh, although it looked like Lewis had the goal bound effort covered.
In truth, the first half had been a poor half but it was the visitors who held the one goal advantage. However, although they looked like they were cruising, since the Jay Bothroyd goal and the departure of the influential Seyi Olofinjana, Cardiff were looking more and more vulnerable as they failed to control the ball, retain possession and protect their back four. Although manager Gary Johnson had plenty to digest at half time, the Posh faithful were encouraged by the last 10 minutes of the first half and they hoped for an entertaining second period.
It was the Posh who were in a hurry at the beginning the second half as, with the half time team talk of Gary Johnson still ringing in their ears, they made a bright start to the second period. It was Mackail-Smith who had the first shot on goal after beating Adam Matthews down the wing he fired a low drive towards the bottom corner forcing Heaton into a classy save with the Bluebirds eventually clearing their lines from the resulting corner. Heaton was called upon again just two minutes later, this time denying George Boyd at the consequence of a corner.
Cardiff were on the back foot already, and it was McCann and Wesolowski who were dominating the central midfield. It was McCann who next tested Heaton this time with a 20 yard fizzing shot, but Heaton could only palm the ball away into the path of Craig Mackail-Smith on the right hand side who quickly and instinctively played the ball across the face of goal. The ball was perfect for George Boyd to knock into the back of the net, but shockingly, he somehow managed to blaze over from within the six yard box with his weaker foot. Cardiff looked to counter straight away, but Koumas was only able to blaze his effort wide of the target.
As the hour mark approached, The Posh had enjoyed their spell of dominance and the visitors were now coming more and more into it as the tempo of the game decreased and Chris Burke had the first real effort on goal in the second half for the Bluebirds. Despite going on a mazy run through a nonexistent Posh midfield, his distant drive flew wide of the mark.
The Posh were still the better footballing team in this second half and they came within a whisker of levelling up the scores as first Arron Davies, who was coming more and more into the game with his impressive direct dribbling, tested Tom Heaton before Aaron McLean saw his headed effort fly over the bar after an impressive delivery from set piece specialist Grant McCann.
The equalizing goal was coming, and on 73 minutes the home side finally delivered. George Boyd did well to find CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH just inside the area who swivelled on the ball after holding off his marker and driving in a left footed drive into the bottom corner of the ‘City goal. Heaton was well beaten and Mackail-Smith demonstrated a quality finish with his weaker foot and a good level of composure, of which many fans feel he lacks in his game.
Substitute Stephen McPhail was withdrawn to be replaced by youngster Aaron Wildig as the Welsh side tried to keep their heads up despite conceding. Winger Chris Burke created a good chance for himself after beating the unresponsive Nana at full back, but he couldn’t match his run with a good finish as Cardiff fired wide of the goal once again.
With the clock ticking down, it was clear it would require something special to prevent extra time being played and, on 88 minutes, George Boyd proved once again why he is a hero in the eyes of all Posh fans. A deep cross into the box by Nana somehow found GEORGE BOYD with the former Stevenage winger taking a touch and curling a spectacular right footed effort into the top corner of the Cardiff net. The stunning goal itself was worthy of winning any match.
With a further 4 minutes added on by the fourth official, the home side still didn’t look content at holding back with Arron Davies, who looked determined to score, firing a low drive just wide of Heaton’s goal. The remaining minutes were played out with relative ease and the Posh side now hope to draw a big tie in the next round of the Carling Cup.
The first half saw Cardiff deservedly take the lead as, in particular, Jay Bothroyd and Seyi Olofinjana impressed who were both dictating play and were demonstrating their clear talents on the ball, meaning the majority of the first half Posh were ball watching. However, this all changed after Olofinjana’s departure. From then on, Peterborough were able to move the ball about more freely especially in the second half, in which they deserved to win the match. The Posh were more ruthless in the second half, or as Gary Johnson described it, we were more “bullyish”. Throughout the match, it has to be said, the Posh defence looked a lot more solid than in recent weeks as the Bennett-Langmead partnership looked a lot more confident. Tommy Rowe also looked comfortable in at left back, although in my opinion, it would be nice to see him drive down the line more often like Mark Little does as he clearly has impressive crossing ability. It was only Nana this week that, once again, looked out of his depth. On balance though, a draw would have been a fair outcome but avoiding extra time is no disappointment for the respective managers who both have important league matches at the weekend. Most encouragingly, this performance hints that the Posh team do have the Championship class within the squad and suggests that, if we do achieve promotion this year, then we won’t be punching above our weight next year in the Championship.
Posh: Lewis, Nana, Rowe, Langmead, Bennett, Wesolowski, McCann, Boyd, Davies (sub Lee 89min), Mclean, Mackail-Smith. Unused subs: Collis, Zakuani, Hibbert, Piergianni, Mendez-Laing, Tomlin.
Cardiff: Heaton, Naylor (sub Quinn 88min), Hudson, Whittingham, Bothroyd, Burke, Gerrard, Koumas, Olofinjana (sub McPhail 33min, sub Wildig 82min), Drinkwater, Matthews. Unused subs: Marshall, Gyepes, Taiwo, Jarvis.
Attendance: 3,806 (299 Cardiff fans)