After falling behind early on ‘The Posh’ showed their class against lower league opponents Rotherham and ran out comfortable 4-1 winners to progress to the second round of the Carling Cup.
‘Posh’ boss Gary Johnson clearly bought into chairman Darragh MacAnthony’s philosophy that one good cup run would help the clubs finances massively this season and played his strongest side for this first round League Cup match. The enforced removal of Grant McCann, due to international duty, was the only change from Saturday’s line up, who beat Bristol Rovers comfortably, with the former Scunthorpe midfielder being replaced by Charlie Lee.
Ronnie Moore also selected the strongest line-up available to him with nine absentees. Adam Le Fondre, the club’s star striker, continued to lead the attacking line alongside Marcus Marshall, who didn’t start in ‘The Miller’s’ first game of the 2010-2011 campaign. Exodus Geoghagon was unavailable for selection due to terms in his loan contract meaning he couldn’t play against his parent club.
It was Peterborough who started the brighter, dominating possession, and showing that their status as favourites was warranted. Aaron McLean had a shot deflected just wide and Ryan Bennett headed wide, after good work from Mendez-Laing, on the right hand side as ‘Posh’ pressed Rotherham back inside their own half.
However, in just the ninth minute of the game Rotherham, who had been struggling to retain any sort of possession, took the lead. After a poor, rushed, clearance from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, the ‘Posh’ defence was stretched and MARCUS MARSHALL gave the visitors the lead after his shot found a way past two defenders and Joe Lewis in the Peterborough United goal. The goal was somewhat against the run of play and immediately the home faithful were hoping that the team’s confidence was not knocked too much after experience going behind early so many times last season in the Championship.
Marshall’s early goal had played into Rotherham’s hands as they were able to play with a more defensive minded approach as they looked to soak up and pressure Peterborough United had and ‘The Posh’ were certainly finding it hard work creating any sort of clear-cut-chance against Moore’s well organised side.
The pace of Craig Mackail-Smith is always a threat though and after a brilliant through ball from Aaron McLean was perfectly weighted for the run of Mackail-Smith, who capitalised on the away side’s surprisingly high defensive line, Posh’s number 12 had his chance but his shot was saved well by veteran goal-keeper Andy Warrington. For all the work Mackail-Smith does for the team this aspect of his game must be improved and although the former Dagenham striker is currently low on confidence he should have equalised after McLean had created such a glorious goal-scoring opportunity.
The visitors were frustrating Posh in open-play so it was of no surprise that the leveller came from a set-piece. George Boyd floated in a corner, which had clearly been worked on by Gary Johnson’s men in training due to the fact Boyd signalled which type of cross it would be with two bounces of the ball before placing the ball in the quadrant, towards the back-post and RYAN BENNETT met the cross with a towering header which had too much power to be stopped by Warrington.
Peterborough were clearly more confident now and their passing had more pace and precision to it which meant they were able to control the game again. This spell of continued pressure was rewarded and just four minutes after equalising ‘The Posh’ were in-front. This time a short corner caused problems and once George Boyd and James Wesolowski had exchanged passes near the right hand touchline Boyd cut inside onto his favoured left foot, rounded Le Fondre, and smashed a rasping low drive beyond Warrington at the near post.
After taking the lead ‘The Posh’ dominated much of the rest of the half putting together some lovely passing moves, especially in the middle of the pitch, where Wesolowski and Lee had immediately formed a good partnership, Ryan Bennett and Kelvin Langmead also looked comfortable with the ball at their feet, at centre back, meaning that there were numerous options for Posh in possession.
The second half continued in the same manner as the first with Posh dominating proceedings. A series of corner kicks were causing mayhem in the Rotherham box but came to no avail with the ball, unluckily, not falling to an attacking, blue-shirted, player.
A lovely series of passes through the middle created another opportunity for Peterborough, shooting towards their own fans in the London Road end, and after Boyd had completed a one-two with Mendez-Laing on the edge of ‘The Miller’s’ area the on-loan youngster found himself with a great opportunity to score but the on-rushing Andy Warrington managed to thwart the danger with a good save.
Warrington’s brilliance moments early was rather cancelled out by a poor bit of goalkeeping moments later. In a basic goal-kick Warrington had pushed his Rotherham side over to the left hand side of the London Road pitch, after gesturing firmly for his team to move over, but his kick fell straight to a Posh player who released Mark Little, now in space on the right hand side, who raced away and unselfishly squared the ball back for AARON McLEAN to finish and put the game beyond any doubt.
Gary Johnson, with the game seemingly won, turned his mind to Saturday and made his first two substitutes of the evening in the 67th minute of the match. Tommy Rowe was brought on to replace Nana at left back with Dave Hibbert making his debut up-front.
A sickening tackle on the half way line, which unbelievably went without even a free-kick given by referee Grant Hegley, caused what looks like a severe injury to Aaron McLean. The Posh striker, who had scored moments earlier, was quickly stretchered off and carried away to the medical facility at London Road with a leg brace fitted. Initial reports are that the leg is not broken and the injury isn’t as bad as first feared. I am sure I speak on behalf of all Peterborough United fans in wishing Aaron McLean a speedy recovery from what looks like a nasty injury. Lee Tomlin was brought on by Gary Johnson as his replacement.
Adam Le Fondre showed his class by holding off Langmead and curling a shot from distance just wide of Lewis’ goal before Dave Hibbert almost marked his first Posh appearance with a goal after expertly controlling a Charlie Lee cross and smashing a half volley goalwards but it was well saved by Warrington.
‘The Posh’ put a gloss on their victory when CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH notched his first of the season, from close-range, after some good work by Lee Tomlin to create the goal. Tomlin had made a good run down the right hand side and squared the ball, in a similar fashion to Little did for McLean earlier, to Mackail-Smith who couldn’t miss. The former Rushden player has only made two substitute appearances since his transfer to ‘Posh’ but he is immediately impressing the London Road faithful.
Another good performance at London Road has confirmed Posh’s status as promotion candidates and the side already looks as if it is full of goals. ‘The Holy Trinity’ have 5 goals between them in 2 games and if this form continues the three players combined could have well over 60 goals between them by the end of the season, enough to fire any team to promotion. Admittedly there will be tougher opponents than Bristol Rovers and Rotherham to come this season, with all due respect to both clubs, but the signs are certainly encouraging at London Road.
Attendance: 4145 (242 Rotherham fans)
Rotherham: 1) Warrington, 3) Newey, 5) Cresswell, 11) Brogan, 14) Ashworth, 4) Harrison, 7) Law, 8.) Taylor, 15) Ellison, 21) Marshall, 10) Le Fondre
Peterborough United Player Ratings
Joe Lewis, 6 – Had very little to do. No blame placed on him for the goal.
Mark Little 7 – Full of energy again, good defensively and created McLean’s goal expertly.
Kelvin Langmead 8 – Rock solid at the back. Didn’t loss a header and looked comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Ryan Bennett 7 – One slip-up was almost costly other than that a sound defensive performance. Took his goal well.
Seth Nana 5 – Quiet throughout, did little of note. One rash clearance could have created a chance for Rotherham. Substituted for Tommy Rowe (66 minutes).
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing 4 – Lacked any real control and didn’t create much. When he gets to the by-line he looks dangerous but he needs to get into that position more often. His poor clearance cost Peterborough United a clean-sheet. Substituted for Dave Hibbert (66 minutes).
Charlie Lee 6 – All action performance from Lee as always. He linked up the play well in the midfield.
James Wesolowski 7 – Very similar in style to Lee but may be suited to the central midfield role slightly better than the former Tottenham Hotspur man. An impressive performance from Wesolowski.
George Boyd 8 – He is a class above at this level. Creative, full of goals and skilful. If he continues this standard of performance throughout the season he is proving he is worth every penny of his improved contract.
Aaron McLean 7 – Looks back to his best. Was a real threat to the Rotherham defence until he was injured. Hopefully the injury isn’t severe as it first looks as he will be vital in any success ‘The Posh’ may have this season. Substituted for Lee Tomlin (72 minutes).
Craig Mackail-Smith 6 – Missed a good opportunity but got back on the score-sheet again. The goal should work wonders for his confidence as he looked a little down-hearted before his goal.
On a side note we are saddened to hear the news that Adam Stansfield has tragically passed away at the age of 31. Condolences go out to all Exeter City fans, friends of Adam’s and, most importantly, the Stansfield family.