Agony for Peterborough United after a topsy-turvy clash at the Weston Homes Stadium

Sammie Szmodics of Peterborough United scores his sides second goal of the game against Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/ Szmodics of Peterborough United scores his sides second goal of the game against Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/
Sammie Szmodics of Peterborough United scores his sides second goal of the game against Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/
Peterborough United slipped to an agonising late defeat at home to Bristol City, a cruel punishment after a topsy-turvy clash at the Weston Homes Stadium today (October 2).

Posh went down 3-2 despite two goals from Sammie Szmodics - his first of the season - against his former club.

Szmodics opened the scoring midway through the first-half with a terrific strike and equalised just before the break with a superb header after City had scored twice in six minutes to take the lead.

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Posh were excellent in possession at times after the break, but failed to test visiting goalkeeper Dan Bentley. Posh ‘keeper Dai Cornell was by far the busier ‘keeper with City troubling a creaking defence constantly from set-pieces and crosses.

But it was a breakaway following heavy pressure which led to the winning goal for Chris Martin six minutes from time and a defeat that shoved Posh down to next-to-bottom ahead of the international break.

A shock accompanied the arrival of the team sheets as Posh striker Jonson Clarke-Harris was a notable absentee from the squad. Szmodics was restored to the starting line-up for the first time in five matches, not that he’s been a lucky omen this season as Posh had lost all three games he had started.

Jack Taylor and Jorge Grant were also dropped from the team that fought hard for a 0-0 draw with Bournemouth, with Conor Coventry and Joe Ward stepping up.

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City’s most notable absentees were manager Nigel Pearson and striker Nahki Wells, but by half-time others had taken centre-stage in a slow burner of a game that exploded into life in the final 10 minutes of the half.

Posh fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation in the pouring rain with Siriki Dembele the furthest forward. The hosts started brightly with Nathan Thompson flicking a Ward cross over the bar, but City’s willingness to flood the Posh penalty area when they attacked caused concern.

It was a cagey affair though until Szmodics opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a beauty from 22 yards. Coventry’s burst forward onto Oliver Norburn’s pass and a short set-up from Harrison Burrows were key contributions.

City’s response was to take complete control of the contest. Callum O’Dowda left Thompson for dead and it required a terrific intervention from Dan Butler to stop Martin scoring. Frankie Kent then came to the rescue after Ronnie Edwards had been robbed by O’Dowda.

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City also sent in a succession of corners and it was a set-piece that led to an equaliser as Thompson appeared to head into his own net under pressure from Rob Atkinson in the 35th minute.

The Posh response was good with Thompson failing to get a good enough connection when in a great position eight yards from goal and Harrison Burrows slicing badly wide when teed up by Dembele.

And City punished those moments four minutes before the interval as right-back George Tanner slotted home after Cornell had made a fine save from Martin.

Posh were rocked, but again their response was good. After Ward had failed to score after beating visiting ‘keeper Dan Bentley to a through ball, Butler’s left wing cross was headed home superbly by Szmodics as the first-half drew to a close.

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City’s prowess from set-pieces soon resurfaced in the second-half. Cornell made a full-length save to thwart Joe Williams from a free kick and Martin should have scored following another set-play, but his header was too close to Cornell who made another decent stop.

Posh enjoyed spells of good possession, but there was no obvious target in the penalty area for the crosses. Norburn had the home crowd on their feet with a 25 yarder that whistled wide and Thompson wasted a promising position on the edge of the area.

But Cornell was called upon too often for comfort and he was called into action again 15 minutes from time to beat away another Martin header.

Posh brought Idris Kanu on for his first Championship appearance of his career 11 minutes from time and he had an immediate shot at glory when played through by Szmodics. Inexplicably he looked for the pass rather than the shot and the chance was gone.

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Harrison Burrows then failed to convert a tricky volley at the far post with Posh appealing for a push.

And within 90 seconds Posh had been punished by a sucker punch. Kent looked like he’d tidied danger up on the edge of his own area, but he lost possession to Williams who fed Martin to finish expertly from the edge of the area.

Posh threw everything at City in the final stages, but couldn’t land a break in the penalty area. Substitute Jorge Grant’s free kick in the final minute forced a flying save from Dan Bentley, tellingly the only time the City goalkeeper was called into difficult action.

Kanu had lobbed over Bentley, but wide moments earlier.

Posh: Dai Cornell, Dan Butler, Frankie Kent, Ronnie Edwards, Nathan Thompson, Joe Ward (sub Idris Kanu, 79 mins), Oliver Norburn (sub Jorge Grant, 87 mins), Conor Coventry (sub Jack Taylor, 58 mins), Harrison Burrows, Siriki Dembele, Sammie Szmodics

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Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Josh Knight, Kwame Poku, Joe Tomlinson.

Bristol City: Daniel Bentley, George Tanner, Tomas Kalas, Rob Atkinson, Cameron Pring, Matty James, Andy King, Joe Williams, Callum O’Dowda (sub Alex Scott, 63 mins), Andreas Wiemann, Chris Martin.

Subs: Max O’Leary, Danny Simpson, Tyreeq Bakinson, Zak Vyner, Sam Bell, Alex Scott, Kasey Palmer.

Goals: Posh - Szmodics (21 mins & 42 mins)

City - Thompson (og, 35), Tanner (40 mins), Martin (84 mins).

Cautions: Posh - Dembele (foul)

City - James (foul).

Referee: David Coote 6

Attendance: 8,916 (1,119 City).

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