One of the best Peterborough United pre-season campaigns arrived in Barry Fry’s first summer as manager in 1996.
Posh looked electric in friendlies, particularly new striker Zeke Rowe who performed like Pele in his pomp. Fry was so impressed he insisted he would take Posh out of Division Two.
And he was true to his word. Posh were relegated at the end of the season after Fry suffered an annus horribilis on and off the pitch. Rowe was last seen playing in the Peterborough League for Real March.
It’s worth recalling events 20 years ago if only to ease concerns about Posh’s current stuttering form, particularly in front of goal. Posh have scored three goals in four senior friendlies so far, two from the penalty spot, the other from a corner, Even a run-out for first-team squad strikers in an under 21 Posh side against Southerm League Bedford mis-fired badly.
Shaquile Coulthirst did find the back of the net from the penalty spot four minutes the second-half against a West Ham XI at the ABAX Stadium tonight (July 19), but it proved to be a consolation goal as the Hammers’ kids converted a late spot-kick themselves to seal victory. Former Posh youngster Janaai Gordon rubbed salt into the wounds of current Posh forwards by firing the vistors ahead after just 50 seconds.
There was no lack of huff and puff from the Posh attackers deployed this evening, but there was a distinct lack of quality and penetration. Trialist Morgan Ferrier showed up pretty well in his 45-minute run-out, but defender Andrew Hughes was the closest to scoring for Posh in the first-half.
Hughes fired over the bar from a good position after pleasing work from Callum Chettle and Ferrier, and also whistled a shot just past a post from distance. The lively Coulthirst tested the Hammers ‘keeper with one deflected shot and blazed wide after Jermaine Anderson had played him through,
Gordon had shown them all how to finish when shooting across Ben Alnwick and into the corner of the net inside the first minute. Alnwick was soon saving well from Sam Ford, a feat he repeated just before the interval.
Gwion Edwards, Paul Taylor and Mark Tyler came on for Posh at the start of the second half, but Coulthirst won himself the opportunity to level from the penalty spot when his trickery on the ball was interrupted illegally.
Several more changes were made just past the hour mark by manager Grant McCann and Paul Taylor came closest to scoring the first Posh goal of July from open play when curling a free-kick just wide.
McCann started the game with a 3-5-2 formation with Hayden White and Hughes acting as wing-backs. One of his chosen central defenders, Ricardo Santos, picked up an injury and left the field eight minutes from time.
And in the final minute Jack Baldwin felled Alex Pike in the penalty area and picked himself up to score a goal that was confirmed as the winner when Edwards saw an injury-time strike blocked by a defender.
Posh: Alnwick (sub Tyler 46min), White (sub Smith 62 mins), Hughes, Almeida Santos (sub Alban Jones 82 mins), Tafazolli (sub Baldwin 62min), Bostwick (sub Freestone 62 mins), Chettle (sub Inman 62 mins), J. Anderson (sub Edwards 46 mins), Coulthirst (sub Stevens 62 mins), Da Silva Lopes (sub Forrester 62 mins), Ferrier (sub P. Taylor 46 mins).
West Ham XI: Trott, Pike, Barrett (sub Longello 55 mins), Lewis (sub Coventry 55 mins) , Akinola, Pask (sub Johnson 89 mins), Powell (sub Kemp 46 mins), Sylvestre (sub K. Belic 86 mins), Ford, Diangana (sub L. Belic 86 mins), Gordon (sub Scully 73 mins).
Goals; Posh - Coulthirst (pen, 47 mins).
West Ham - Gordon (1 min), Pike (pen, 90 mins).
Referee: Darren Deadman (Peterborough).