Peterborough United 2 Brighton U21s 2 (Brighton won 5-4 on penalties): Posh pay the penalty after throwing away a two-goal lead
If the result is treated as incidental, Peterborough United manager Steve Evans probably got half of what he wanted from tonight's Checkatrade Trophy tie against Brighton Under 21s (October 9).
He re-united his successful August strike pairing of Jason Cummings and Matt Godden and both scored to give Posh what should have been a winning 2-0 lead.
But Evans also fielded his regular defence and goalkeeper in the hope of securing a second clean sheet of the season, and a first since August 21. Instead they conceded twice in the final 20 minutes to stretch a remarkable run of conceding at least two goals for the eighth competitive match in a row.
That led to a second penalty shootout in two Checkatrade games for Posh and two defeats. A win in the final game against already-qualified Luton at the ABAX Stadium next month would still probably send Posh through to the knockout stages.
Godden saw the first penalty of the shootout saved. No-one else looked like missing with Siriki Dembele, Ivan Toney, Louis Reed and Joe Ward all successful for Posh.
Posh made five changes to their starting line-up after their weekend runaround at the hands of Barnsley. Initially Brighton’s kids threatened to inflict further damage.
The visitors played with three centre-backs and two wing-backs against a Posh 4-4-2 formation which featured Dembele and Jamie Walker in wide roles.
And Posh goalkeeper Aaron Chapman was the team’s best performer in the first quarter of the game, saving well from Viktor Gyokores, comfortably from George Cox and then rather thrillingly from Aaron Connolly.
Posh, with the lesser-spotted Louis Reed operating alongside Callum Cooke in central midfield did try to knit some passing moves together, but all ended without success until Godden smashed home a 12-yard volley after decent interplay from Cooke and Jason Naismith.
Cooke promptly smashed a 25-yard strike just over the crossbar as Posh ended the half in much more comfortable fashion.
And it was Cooke again who nearly added a second Posh goal inside 20 second-half seconds. The midfielder jinked inside the Brighton penalty area before striking the post with a fine shot.
But Posh, who were by now playing much better, didn’t have long to wait for a second goal and it was a cracker as Cummings lobbed the ‘keeper from 12 yards out after a miscued Dembele shot fell kindly into his path. Walker’s excellent run and pass to Dembele was a strong contribution.
Dembele then struck the outside of the post with a 20-yard drive as Posh started to dominate. Godden had a ‘goal’ wiped out for offside before Reed fired over from 30 yards.
Chapman had to stay alert to keep out a wild hack from a corner from teammate Daniel. Daniel then delivered a superb cross which led to a super save from Billy Collings from a Godden header.
But, like Posh in the first half, Brighton scored against the run of play. The impressive Connolly firing home from just outside the area 20 minutes from time.
And that goal galvanised the visitors who were level eight minutes later when a brilliant left-wing cross from George Cox was headed home by Jordan Davies.
Brighton looked the likeliest winners before the penalty shoot out, hitting the bar from a 90th minute corner.
Just under 2,000 attended the game with 42 hardy souls from Brighton among a number swollen by a free entry offer for Posh season ticket holders.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Colin Daniel, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke, Jamie Walker (sub Joe Ward, 80 mins), Siriki Dembele, Jason Cummings (sub Ivan Toney, 82 mins), Matt Godden.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Darren Lyon, Alex Woodyard, George Cooper, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts.
Brighton: Billy Collings, Owen Moore (sub Archie Davies, 56 mins), Ben White, Leo Ostigard, Ben Barclay, George Cox, James Tilley (sub Peter Gwargis, 63 mins), Antonsen Normann, Jordan Davies, Victor Gyokeres, Aaron Connolly.
Unused substitutes: Roco Rees, Warren O’Hora, Ryan Longman, Danny Cashman.
Goals: Posh - Godden (29 mins), Cummings (52 mins).
Brighton - Connolly (71 mins), J. Davies (79 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Reed (foul).
Brighton - A. Davies (foul), J. Davies (foul).
Referee: Gavin Ward 7
Attendance: 1,872 (42 Brighton).