League One leaders Sheffield United broke Peterborough United hearts with a winning goal four minutes from time at the ABAX Stadium today (February 11).
The division’s top scorer Billy Sharp headed home from close range after a right-wing cross had been nodded into his path.
It was a cruel way to lose, but there can be no doubting the visitors deserved their victory in front of the biggest Posh home crowd of the season.
They finished both halves much the stronger side and only a couple of fine saves from Posh ‘keeper Luke McGee stopped them taking home a more decisive victory.
The absence of Leo Da Silva Lopes and Chris Forrester’s suspect hamstring gave Brad Inman the chance to make his full Posh debut, eight months after signing for the club in his summer.
It was the only change Posh made to the starting line-up that eased to a 3-0 victory at Port Vale the week before. The Blades were far superior opponents though and proved it as the first-half developed.
Posh enjoyed parity of possession in the opening half-an-hour, but their best scoring opportunity broke down on the halfway line when Craig Mackail-Smith failed to find Marcus Maddison on the breakaway. An accurate pass, and the margin for error was considerable, and Maddison would have been through on goal.
Maddison did strike a decent free kick wide from 35 yards, but otherwise visiting ‘keeper Simon Moore had a comfortable first-half.
Posh ‘keeper McGee was also generally untroubled, until 10 minutes before the break when Sharp galloped away down the right wing and pulled the ball back for strike partner James Hanson.
Hanson’s low shot was firm and true, but superbly saved by McGee. The rebound fell kindly to Hanson who should have scored, but instead shot wide.
That was the signal for Blades to dominate the rest of the half, but Posh repelled numerous crosses and the occasional shot at goal, the best of which Mark Duffy curled just wide.
The pattern continued after the break with McGee again saving well from Hanson’s close range header before Daniel Lafferty screwed the rebound over the bar.
Posh saw Craig Mackail-Smith backheel substitute Junior Morias’ shot wide and Maddison force a decent save from Simon Moore with a swerving shot, but the Blades always looked the more likely winners.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Dominic Ball, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Brad Inman (sub Martin Samuelsen, 87 mins), Gwion Edwards (sub Chris Forrester, 61 mins), Marcus Maddison, Tom Nichols (sub Junior Morias, 62 mins), Craig Mackail-Smith. Unused substitutes: Jack Baldwin, Lee Angol, Andrew Hughes, Mark Tyler.
Sheffield United: Simon Moore, Kieron Freeman, Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham, Jake Wright, Daniel Lafferty (sub, Caolan Lavery, 79 mins), John Fleck, Samir Carruthers (sub Joe Riley, 87 mins), Mark Duffy (sub Jay O’Shea, 61 mins), Billy Sharp, James Hanson. Unused substitutes; James Wilson, Matt Done, George Long, Marc McNulty.
Goal: Sheff Utd - Sharp (86 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Nichols (foul), Edwards (foul).
Sheff Utd - Carruthers (foul), Sharp (foul).
Referee: Andy Haines 5
Attendance: 10,258 (3,930 Sheffield United).
Alan Swann is at the match for the Peterborough Telegraph so check back for team news, a match report and match reaction.
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