Bristol City had substitute David Clarkson to thank for earning them the three points in a thoroughly dull encounter at London Road.
Jim Gannon, who announced he would be leaving Posh at the end of the season earlier this week, started with a 3-1-4-2 formation as he looked to get Peterborough back to winning ways after his side lost 4-0 against Scunthorpe in mid-week. Nathan Koranteng was handed his first start in a Peterborough shirt, his only appearances so far for ‘The Posh’ was a substitute one against Swansea, he was placed up-front with Craig Mackail-Smith.
In a muted atmosphere at London Road the football did nothing the raise the volume inside the stadium and the opening minutes were played out with both teams playing very poorly. Posh were giving away possession cheaply and Bristol City were not looking particularly impressive either.
The first chance of note came when Bradley Orr let fly from long range with a half volley and Joe Lewis, in the Peterborough goal, had to back-track quickly to strain to tip the ball, that was dipping rapidly, over the bar and out for a corner.
Chris Whelpdale was then substituted off by Posh with a knee injury, it was a tough blow for the Posh player who had just returned from injury and forced his way back into the starting line-up. Whelpdale picked up the injury whilst competing for a deep cross from Tommy Rowe when he collided with Bristol City ‘keeper Dean Gerken and the post. He was replaced by Kerrea Gilbert, who was out of favour with Jim Gannon earlier in the week after the manager stated “he was not offering enough to the team or the club”.
Lewis was called into action again after two long range efforts. The ‘keeper first parried away a Liam Fontaine effort and then thwarted Danny Haynes in quick succession. Both shots came about as Posh were not closing down well enough on the edge of their own penalty area.
The game went from bad to worse and the football on display from both sides was abject; both seem to be happy to be going in at 0-0 at the break.
The second half started in much of the same fashion as the frustrations amongst the home fans grew. It had been an abysmal season and many fans felt in necessary to vent their frustrations at the current situation during the match, it seemed. However the way that many conducted themselves was not appropriate.
Nathan Koranteng was replaced with Rueben Reid. In truth the youngster was quiet for much of the game although showed a few brief flashes of his pace, which seems to be his main threat, in his time on the pitch. Gannon seems to be looking to develop some of the youngsters at Posh with many named on the bench and Koranteng’s start will have offered him some valuable experience.
After a strong tackle and good run from Kerrea Gilbert the full back managed to whip in a low cross which just evaded Craig Mackail-Smith, the striker slide to head the cross when it looked like if he had put his foot out he would have had a better chance of making contact. There was a similar chance moments later for Mackail-Smith but the cross took a deflection and went out for a corner. The resulting free-kick saw Exodus Geoghagon register Peterborough’s first shot of the match but it never looked like threatening the Bristol City goal.
Mackail-Smith hit the cross bar as the game went beyond the hour mark. The striker had created the chance well after out-pacing and out-muscling Louis Carey and turning him well to create some space. His shot from a tight angle was up for debate as to whether it was meant but it required a touch from Gerken to tap it onto the wood-work.
As the game progressed it seemed that the only chance of a goal would come from a set-piece, as both teams lacked the class to create anything from open play, and it was from a corner that David Clarkson gave the visitors the lead. The ball was angled in, by Paul Hartley, to the near post and met by the head of Clarkson, the ball flashed past Lewis and went into the back of the net to put ‘The Robins’ in-front.
Clarkson had the chance to extend the visitors lead moments later after Posh pushed forward in search of an equaliser but spurned his shot over the bar after some excellent work by Christiano Ribiero beating a couple of Posh players before playing the ball into the striker.
Exodus Geohagon wasted Posh’s last real chance of the game heading well wide after, somehow, he seemed to be left free at the back post by all the Bristol City defenders from a Lee Frecklington corner which was aimed at the far post.
The game itself was a depressing affair that felt more like a pre-season friendly than a competitive league match; the football and the atmosphere in the stadium showed two sets of fans and players that knew their teams had very little to play for. The one positive for Peterborough fans is they now know that the end of this season, that everyone would rather forget, is drawing to a close and the club can start re-building their squad, which is likely to be dismantled in the summer, ready for a campaign in League 1.