League One report and gallery: Some were quick to denounce Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony for his use of the word ‘disgraceful’ within minutes of the final whistle at London Road today (November 2).
But when an experienced side, which contained two million-pound strikers, is outclassed by an Orient team assembled for nothing on their own patch in the biggest game of the season, which attracted the biggest crowd of the season, the man financing a promotion push is surely entitled to an opinion, even in the heat-of-the-moment when passions are still riding high.
It’s not the word I’d want, or expect, my chairman to use in public, but many fans who watched Posh lose virtually every 50/50 challenge today would have been of like mind.
Orient played with the confidence, spirit and organisation of a team at the top. In contrast Posh didn’t play like a team at all and in truth their recent form, if not their results, has been so poor, suggestions that they would raise their game against a strong team playing positively were surely made more in hope than expectation.
Posh have been well short of their best for weeks, probably since they won at Bristol City on September 14, with the exception of half-a-game against Preston. Their attacking fluency disappeared with Lee Tomlin’s injury and only a stubborn defence, a fine goalkeeper and some good fortune kept the wins coming.
It was inevitable that sooner or later they would have step their game up or suffer the consequences. Today was that day and to be fair Orient were mightily impressive - those who believe they will eventually crack should be aware that the Londoners have been in exceptional form in the whole of 2103 and not just the 15 games of this season.
True, their small squad might struggle when injuries and suspensions arrive (a point Orient’s impressive manager Russell Slade made after the game), but clubs going well tend to avoid such misfortune. Anyway can Posh really claim to have such fabulous strength in depth? Was there anyone on the bench today that manager Darren Ferguson could have total confidence in sending-on to change a game?
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was the one hope, but he became a right-winger who played at the tip of the diamond when he was sent on early in the second-half for struggling left-back Kgosi Ntlhe and he finished the match playing on the left.
Ferguson’s commitment (some would call it an obsession) to the midfield diamond was again called into question, When Tomlin is present it can be a decent system because of that player’s vision and passing range, but without him it is liable to break down quicker than the Posh wi fi.
Grant McCann was today’s square-peg-into-a-round-hole player. He played behind the front two rather than in front of the back four and at a stroke his ability to hit a defence-splitting pass of more than 10 yards became redundant.
But to be fair to the manager and the Northern Ireland international, Orient were so dominant in all areas, it would be foolish to blame one decision or one performance.
The visitors were excellent even after falling behind to scrappy Tommy Rowe goal in the 25th minute. McCann’s free-kick seemed to take a couple of deflections before creeping into the corner of the net, but Rowe was adamant the goal was his - it soon became an irrelevance anyway.
Kevin Lisbie had already been thwarted twice by fine blocks from Jack Payne and Michael Bostwick before the goal and after it David Mooney was soon rattling the crossbar with a terrific volley.
Posh were being pulled out of shape by a fluid 4-4-2 formation and they were swamped in midfield with Romain Vincelot in outstanding form for Orient so an equaliser was inevitable and Mooney provided it with a turn and strike into the top corner of the net from 10 yards six minutes before the break.
Dean Cox supplied a cool finish after Posh had been sliced open four minutes after the re-start and 10 minutes later Mooney was given the freedom of the right-hand side Posh penalty area to fire in a third, game-clinching goal just before the hour mark. Rowe was by now playing at left-back, but he appeared to be in a different postal code when the outstanding Cox found in-form Mooney.
Only Olejnik’s heel stopped Mooney completing a hat-trick, but Orient settled for three, which appeared to please Ferguson who admitted his side could have conceded six.
What won’t have pleased Ferguson is the supine way Posh appeared to accept defeat. There was no passion and no adventure from the home side in the final quarter and therefore no pressure.
Posh have two strikers in Tyrone Barnett and Britt Assombalonga whose first touch is poor, they have players like Danny Swanson and Ntlhe who are struggling to consistently reach the standards required of this division and they have good players like Rowe who are playing well below their best (it also doesn’t help that the best player in the squad appears to have no self-discipline).
Barnett had a close-range prod at a corner batted away by Orient ‘keeper Jamie Jones early in the contest and Jones was also tested by a low drive from Swanson just before the break, but his under-employment throughout the second-half was criminal from a Posh point of view.
Ferguson wouldn’t comment when informed of the Chairman’s outburst after the game, but admitted he would be speaking to him later. Now that would be a conversation worth phone-tapping.
Posh: Bobby Olejnik, Mark Little, Kgosi Ntlhe (sub Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, 53 mins), Michael Bostwick, Gaby Zakuani, Jack Payne, Grant McCann, Tommy Rowe, Danny Swanson (sub Joe Newell, 65 mins), Tyrone Barnett, Britt Assombalonga (sub Shaun Jeffers, 78 mins). Unused subs Joe Day, Craig Alcock, Shaun Brisley, Tom Conlon.
Leyton Orient: Jamie Jones, Elliot Omozusi, Gary Sawyer, Nathan Clarke, Scott Cuthbert, Lloyd James, Romain Vincelot, Dean Cox (sub Shaun Batt, 77 mins), Moses Odubajo (sub Marvin Bartley, 90 mins), David Mooney, Kevin Lisbie. Unused subs: Jake Larkins, Yohann Lasimant, Johnny Gorman, Jayden Stockley, Frankie Sutherland,
Goals: Posh - Rowe (25 mins).
Orient - Mooney (39 mins % 59 mins), Cox (49 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Newell (foul), Barnett (foul).
Orient - Cuthbert (foul), Odubajo (foul).
Referee: Mark Heywood 7.
Attendance: 10,025 (1,666 Orient).
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