Take no notice of the actual scoreline, Peterborough United hammered League Two Luton in the FA Cup at the ABAX Stadium today (December 6).
The result will suggest a routine, unspectacular home win. The match statistics will tell a far more realistic story. Posh enjoyed 67 per cent possession and were credited with a staggering 35 attempts on goal - that’s approximately one every two-and-half minutes.
It’s true that most of them ended up in the crowd, the advertising hoardings behind the Luton goal or were beaten away by visiting ‘keeper Mark Tyler, but to create that many scoring opportunities, even against horribly limited opponents, confirms what an enterprising, exciting team Posh have become under the leadership of Graham Westley and Grant McCann.
Pre-match opinion suggested that Luton were going to provide stiff opposition. The Hatters were to be backed by a large and loud travelling support and, with the help of several former Posh men in their ranks, they would match the home side blow-for-blow in a cracking cup tie. Sadly for them, Luton’s threat was entirely based on their history - they looked and played exactly like the team 14th in League Two.
Luton’s former Posh boss John Still accepted Posh were worthy winners. More suprisingly he was happy with how his side played, a point of view that would have sounded even more ridiculous if Posh had converted just half of their golden scoring opportunities.
Tyler, who received a great reception from the home fans before the game as did Craig Mackail-Smith, was outstanding. He once received a rare 10/10 mark from the Peterborough Telegraph in an FA Cup tie and he wasn’t far below that standard today.
Tyler saved bravely to thwart early Posh substitute Harry Beautyman in the opening 10 minutes and reacted well, particularly for a 38-year-old, soon afterwards to stop Conor Washington scoring a goal-of-the-season contender. Washington’s left-foot, first-time shot followed a magnificent 50-yard pass from Michael Bostwick and an instinctive volleyed cross from Michael Smith.
That was to be the pattern of the day as Tyler saved well from half-time Posh substitute Marcus Maddison and a deflected Callum Elder cross either side of missed six-yard headers from Lee Angol and Erhun Oztumer. Tyler also dashed off his line to stop Angol scoring the goal against his old club that he clearly craved - Angol sliced the rebound over the crossbar.
In the middle of some glaring misses Posh did claim two high-class goals. Washington looked to be going nowhere when accepting Elder’s pass inside the penalty are in the 35th minute, but he worked the ball onto his right foot before unleashing a stunning shot into the opposite corner.
It took Posh until nine minutes from time to wrap up the victory in front of their biggest home crowd of the season when Maddison’s fierce low strike sent the ball fizzing into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
This Posh side really is a joy to behold right now. It’s quite remarkable that the gifted Maddison can’t get a start and Posh didn’t even require the services of high quality on-loan midfielder Martin Samuelsen, who might not have been as available to play as Posh had suggested earlier in the week.
But the midfield positions are brimming with outrageous talents. Even the fifth-minute departure of in-form Jermaine Anderson didn’t lower the quality as Beautyman came on and performed with great energy and tenacity.
Oztumer delivered another eye-catching display - the matchday sponsors clearly love him - with one delightful short reverse pass to Washington in the second-half the pick of some fine examples of vision and precision. Washington missed the target badly as he had before the break after another through ball from the Turkish Messi, a player who could one day stand among the Posh greats if he learns to limit his ambitious passes to the opponent’s half.
It was a poor decision by Oztumer that handed Luton their chance to equalise seven minutes before the break. His attempted pass was blocked and the ball was transferred quickly to Mackail-Smith who was clean through. He hit the post with a well-struck left-foot shot and Luton never threatened to score again. Central defender Luke Wilkinson should have opened the scoring midway through the first-half, but sent his free header from a corner over the crossbar, at a time when Posh appeared to be trying to win the game without engaging third gear.
Mackail-Smith displayed all his customary speed and energy, but he was poorly served and supported by his team-mates. Luton were made to look ponderous and clumsy by the quick wits and feet of opponents who have even turned full-backs Smith and Elder into surrogate attackers.
It’s now six wins in a row for Posh and it would be a brave man to back against them winning their next three League One games.
What a time to be a Posh fan. Great form, great entertainment and the chance, for 24 hours at least, to dream of a massive third round FA Cup tie.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Smith, Callum Elder, Ricardo Santos, Michael Bostwick, Chris Forrester, Jermaine Anderson (sub Harry Beautyman, 5 mins), Erhun Oztumer (sub Andrew Fox, 90 mins), Jon Taylor (sub Marcus Maddison, 46 mins), Conor Washington, Lee Angol. Unused substitutes: Miles Addison, Souleymane Coulibaly, Dion-Curtis Henry, Jack Baldwin.
Luton: Mark Tyler, Jonathan Smith, Alex Lawless (sub Scott Griffiths, 78 mins), Magnus Okuonghae, Olly Lee (sub Cameron McGeehan, 63 mins), Sean Long, Josh McQuoid, Nathan Doyle, Luke Wilkinson, Paddy McCourt (sub Danny Green, 72 mins). Unused substitutes: Elliot Justham, Ryan Hall, Luke Guttridge, Curtley Williams.
Goals: Posh - Washington (35 mins), Maddison (81 mins).
Cautions: Luton - Long (foul), Green (foul).
Referee: Nigel Miller 7
Attendance: 8,329 (1,740 Luton)