MATCH REPORT: Walsall 2, Peterborough United 0: A spell of injury-time that could wreck a season

Junior Morias of Peterborough United is closed down by the Walsall defence. Picture: Joe Dent
Junior Morias of Peterborough United is closed down by the Walsall defence. Picture: Joe Dent
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Never mind the result, this 90 minutes could have a calamitous effect on Peterborough United’s season.

Posh had just about shaded a typically dour game against Walsall when they conceded two goals in injury-time, the first so controversial, captain Chris Forrester was dismissed after showing his displeasure at an assistant referee.

Chris Forrester of Peterborough United challenges Neil Etheridge of Walsall. Picture: Joe Dent

Chris Forrester of Peterborough United challenges Neil Etheridge of Walsall. Picture: Joe Dent

Add a late serious looking injury to Gwion Edwards and an early yellow card for Anthony Grant which will trigger a two-game ban, and you have an awful afternoon for Grant McCann’s men.

Former Posh player Erhun Oztumer was credited with the first goal direct from a corner which ‘keeper Luke McGee fumbled over the goal-line. The on-loan Spurs number one was adamant he was impeded.

Kieran Morris converted the second goal four minutes later after Grant had blocked his initial shot.

It was a stunning end to a game which had again emphasised Posh’s attacking shortcomings.

Referee Mark Haywood consults with his assistant before allowing Walsall's opening goal to stand and before sending Chris Forrester off. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Referee Mark Haywood consults with his assistant before allowing Walsall's opening goal to stand and before sending Chris Forrester off. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

A stodgy stalemate between these two teams has been the norm in recent seasons so a goal-less first-half came as no surprise.

Posh started brightly, but once two fine right wing crosses from Edwards, which led to far post headers from Craig Mackail-Smith and Andrew Hughes, had been cleared, they largely disappeared as an attacking force until Mackail-Smith’s low drive was beaten away by Walsall ‘keeper Neil Etheridge on the half hour.

Manager Grant McCann left Marcus Maddison and Lee Angol on the substitutes’ bench and started instead with Paul Taylor and Mackail-Smith. The latter was joined up front by Junior Morias to make up the 11th different strike partnership of the Posh season.

The best moment for Morias before the break was a free kick from 25 yards that whistled past a post.

Walsall played just one up in Simeon Jackson with Oztumer detailed to offer advanced support. The result was plenty of decent passing moves, but very little goalmouth action.

McGee was sharp to keep out Jackson’s close range poke and alert to deny Jason McCarthy as Walsall finished the half the stronger side.

Posh competed well after the break with Morias forcing Etheridge into a fine save with a low drive from 25 yards, but the game again quickly became bogged down.

McGee was accused of dithering by his own defenders on a couple of occasions.

Posh switched to 3-4-3 for the final 20 minutes, but a serious-looking injury to Edwards, who was stretchered off, stopped their momentum.

And then came the devastating finale. Posh looked to have secured a point when McGee saved well from Oztumer, but all hell broke loose from the resultant corner.

Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith (sub Lee Angol, 69 mins), Andrew Hughes, Dominic Ball, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Chris Forrester, Gwion Edwards (sub Martin Samuelsen, 84 mins), Paul Taylor (sub Marcus Maddison, 69 mins), Junior Morias, Craig Mackail-Smith.

Unused substitutes: Leo Da Silva Lopes, Mark Tyler,Tom Nichols, Jack Baldwin.

Walsall: Neil Etheridge, Joe Edwards, James O’Connor, Adam Chambers, Jason McCarthy, Kieran Morris, Isaiah Osborne (sub, George Dobson, 67 mins), Matt Preston, Eoghan O’Connell, Erhun Oztumer (sub Franck Moussa, 90 mins), Simeon Jackson (sub Amadou Bakayoko, 73 mins).

Unused substitutes: Craig MacGillivary, Scott Laird, Will Randall. Kory Roberts.

Goals: Walsall - Oztumer (90 + 2 mins), Morris (90 + 6 mins).

Sending off: Posh - Forrester (foul and abusive languages).

Cautions: Posh - Grant (foul), McGee (dissent).

Walsall - Chambers (foul), Jackson (foul), Bakayoko (foul), McCarthy (foul).

Referee: Mark Haywood 7

Attendance: 4,759 (571 Posh).