Report: Posh 0 Cambridge Utd 0: No goals, but Chris Turner would still have been honoured

Posh goalkeeper Ben Alnwick is in the middle of a melee during the 0-0 draw with Cambridge United. Photo: David Lowndes.
Posh goalkeeper Ben Alnwick is in the middle of a melee during the 0-0 draw with Cambridge United. Photo: David Lowndes.
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Ah well, Chris Turner was a great centre-half so maybe he would have enjoyed a game where defences dominated.

The rest of us? Not so much. This was supposedly the Posh first team and they didn’t play very well in their final proper friendly before the start of the League One season next Saturday (August 8).

But Turner would have been far less enamoured with the failure of Posh strikers to hold the ball up (they have no Ken Charlery or Tony Adcock in this side), the slow build up play from the back which prompted some mild heckling from main stand members (Turner loved an early channel ball) or the fact that the visitors apparently decided there would be no penalty shoot-out to determine a winner (he never shirked a challenge),

Actually Cambridge boss Richard Money made a sensible decision and not just because there was no trophy to play for, only a little local pride. The ‘hostile atmosphere’ excuse was quite frankly pathetic, but the decision probably saved the fans from a very long night because on the evidence of the previous 90 minutes there was no guarantee that players would have been successful from 12 yards with only a ‘keeper to beat.

This was a competitive friendly - a couple of rather unsightly flare-ups confirmed that - staged in honour of a local legend but it was low on quality. Cambridge, who finished 19th in League Two last season, but have invested in numerous new players since then, should have been the happier camp as they bossed possession for long periods despite deploying their full complement of eight substitutes.

Posh really only dominated the final 10 minutes, soon after most of the 4,651 present first found out about a proposed penalty shoot out and straight after an on-field bust-up involving most of the players, including a couple of substitutes.

Lee Angol struck one awkward ball just over the bar from 20 yards befoe a superb surge into the area by young Harry Anderson was spoilt by none of the many Posh bodies in the penalty area even threatening to get on the end of his fine cross.

To be fair to the visitors a late Posh goal would have been undeserved. Cambridge’s 3-5-2 system enabled them to get control of possession before the break and even switching to a 4-3-3 formation in the second-half didn’t alter the course of the game until Posh woke up late on.

Of course it’s wrong to pay too much attention to friendly performances or scores, but manager Dave Robertson, with only a Tuesday (August 4) friendly at Bishop’s Stortford to come, has plenty to work on.

He started with what will most likely be his preferred XI for the League One opener at Rochdale, but few completely nailed down their spot at Spotland. Worryingly key defenders Michael Smith and Gaby Zakuani limped out of the action, although 18 year-old Tobi Adebayo-Rowling can be pleased with his contribution after replacing the former.

Goalkeeper Ben Alnwick made one smart reaction stop in the first-half to thwart Robbie Simpson, but flapped alarmingly at a couple of crosses. The first of which required a fine tackle from Zakuani to stop Cambridge taking the lead 10 minutes before the break.

Ricardo Santos was safe at the back, but Posh spent an awful lot of time passing the ball between themselves in deep positions. Even Jack Collison kept popping up in between his centre-backs to claim the ball, but accurate forward passes were rare, while long, hopeful balls were commonplace.

Conor Washington did beat Sam Beasant to one through ball in the 27th minute, but the acuteness of the shooting angle enabled Leon Legge to recover and block on the line.

The vaunted strike partnership of Washington and Gormley was easily contained apart from one moment just before the hour mark when the Irishman was freed by his partner, but a fine touch was followed by a strike too close to Beasant who easily tipped the ball over the bar.

Cambridge bossed most of the second period, but striker Jordan Slew’s eye-catching, aggressive approach didn’t entirely mask his poor quality and the visitors could only point to one clear-cut opportunity when Liam Hughes should really have found a better connection at the far post following a fine cross cross from George Taft.

Posh left-back Kgosi Ntlhe’s poor positioning contributed to that opportunity and he was often seen chasing shadows in the first-half, but Robertson will surely be more concerned by his side’s poor play going forward than anything happening at the other end.

Central midfielder Collison, whose man-of-the-match award may well have been decided before the game, rarely influenced the action, while Michael Bostwick only caught the eye when the players started brawling. Marcus Maddison was maddening and frustrating, while on the other flank Jon Taylor was living off scraps of service.

Jermaine Anderson did well when he came on as did his namesake Harry.

Turner would never pick players based purely on reputation. One wonders if the current management team will follow suit.

Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Smith (sub Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, 35 mins), Ricardo Almeida-Santos, Gaby Zakuani (sub Shaun Brisley, 46 mins), Kgosi Ntlhe, Jon Taylor (sub Harry Anderson, 80 mins), Marcus Maddison, Jack Collison (sub Jermaine Anderson, 75 mins), Michael Bostwick, Joe Gormley (sub Lee Angol, 80 mins), Conor Washington. Unused substitutes: Dion-Curtis Henry, Harry Anderson, Andrew Fox, Kieran Sadlier, Lee Angol, Kyle Vassell.

Cambridge: Sam Beasant (sub John Flatt, 78 mins), Keith Keane (sub Ryan Horne, 63 mins), Mark Roberts, Leon Legge, Josh Coulson (sub George Taft, 46 mins), Conor Newton, Liam Hughes, Harrison Dunk (sub Jake Chambers-Shaw, 73 mins), Robbie Simpson (sub Matt Lowe, 55 mins), Luke Berry (sub, Gearoid Morrissey, 9 mins, sub Dylan Williams, 63 mins), Jordan Slew (sub Danny Burns, 88 mins).

Referee: Chris Sarginson.

Attendance: 4,691