MATCH REPORT: Peterborough United 2-2 Port Vale - Posh fail to learn from Manchester City lesson
They watched Manchester City hold onto a lead at Old Trafford, but clearly Peterborough United's players had not been paying close enough attention.
Whereas Pep Guardiola’s men held on to a one-goal lead for the entire second-half against their big rivals, Posh had just six minutes and stoppage time to keep out a Port Vale side which had shown why it had not won away all season.
But for the second week in a row a home lead turned into a 2-2 draw with Posh passing up the chance to move from sixth to third, just two points off League One leaders Bolton.
That’s now five points dropped in the last four league matches, three of which were surrendered from stoppage time penalties.
Whereas Jack Baldwin’s lunge against Oxford cost Posh a point, this time it was Andrew Hughes who dived in front of Nathan Smith’s shot in the fourth minute of stoppage time and blocked it with his arm.
Hughes, like Baldwin, was sent off, and Alex Jones sent debut goalkeeper Luke McGee the wrong way.
It was no wonder that Grant McCann, a man who has been willing to voice his frustrations in his post-match press conferences, was unhappy with his side’s attempt to hold onto the win, labelling it “school kid” defending.
He said Posh’s players had been watching the Manchester derby hours earlier, but unlike City his team lost their shape as the seconds ticked down.
Posh had been the better side ever since Jones had given Vale a sixth minute lead, rifling home unmarked from 14 yards after Smith had been given space to head a cross into his path.
The man who led the fightback was George Moncur whose virtuoso first start in a Posh shirt was overshadowed by the late penalty.
McCann had been chasing Moncur in the summer but the player chose Barnsley and Championship football, only to find out that his opportunities would be limited.
A deadline day loan move to London Road was a reward for Posh’s persistence, and it quickly became clear why McCann was so desperate to sign the attacking midfielder.
Two minutes after Jones’ opener Moncur took Marcus Maddison’s pass in path 20 yards out, drifted past a defender and fired a low shot into the far corner with his right foot.
Moncur had been one of three changes to the Posh line-up, taking the place of Paul Taylor who had been told he needed to score more goals.
Goalkeeper McGee, on loan from Tottenham, replaced Mark Tyler, and new-dad Michael Smith, back from international duty with Northern Ireland, replaced Leo Da Silva Lopes, allowing Jermaine Anderson to move up into midfield.
Having seen a Michael Doughty-inspired Swindon dominate last week, this time the Posh faithful saw their team on the front foot with Moncur driving the play.
Anderson hobbled off just before half-time with an injury to his knee (not the one which had kept him out for a large part of last season) but the second-half should have seen a comfortable win.
Tom Nichols had two good chances to score but both times he could not find the target. First he headed over a Gwion Edwards cross, then when substitute Paul Taylor glided to the by-line and pulled the ball back to the striker he disappointingly shot wide.
Edwards then had a shot blocked by Vale defender Ben Purkiss to continue the home side’s frustration, but the goal finally came when Nichols diverted Taylor’s cross into the path of Moncur, and from inside the area his low shot beat the diving Jak Alnwick.
But after spending so long trying to break the visitors down, Posh floundered at the end, lacking the composure to keep Vale at bay.
McCann had no complaints about the penalty, which was given by the linesman. If anything he was lucky because after seeing his shot blocked by Hughes’ arm, Smith headed the rebound into the net, so it was left to Jones to make sure justice was done.
Posh’s next match is a trip to resurgent Sheffield United, and they will have to defend better to extend their three match unbeaten league run against the likes of Billy Sharp.
Posh: (4-2-3-1): Luke McGee, Michael Smith (sub Hayden White, 66 minutes), Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Andrew Hughes, Chris Forrester, Jermaine Anderson (sub Leo Da Silva Lopes, 43 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Paul Taylor, 65 minutes), George Moncur, Gwion Edwards, Tom Nichols.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Ryan Tafazolli, Deon Moore, Nathan Oduwa.
Port Vale: (4-2-3-1): Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Remie Streete, Nathan Smith, Kjell Knops,Anthony Grant. Paulo Tavares (sub Sebastien Amoros, 85 minutes), Sam Foley (sub Quentin Pereira, 81 minutes), Alexander Jones, Jerome Thomas. Martin Paterson (sub Rigino Cicilia, 66 minutes).
Unused substitutes: Miguel Santos, Calvin Mac-Intosch, Sam Hart, Francisco Kiko.
Goals: Posh (Moncur 8, 84 minutes), Vale (Jones 6 and pen 90+4 minutes)
Red: Posh - Hughes (handball).
Cautions: Posh - Da Silva Lopes (foul), Bostwick (foul) Port Vale - Grant (foul), Paterson (foul), Jones (foul).
Referee: Graham Horwood 5.
Attendance: 4,711 (280 Vale fans).