Late delight turns to devastation after late Peterborough United collapse away at Exeter

Harrison Burrows of Peterborough United battles with Archie Collins of Exeter. Photo: Joe Dent.Harrison Burrows of Peterborough United battles with Archie Collins of Exeter. Photo: Joe Dent.
Harrison Burrows of Peterborough United battles with Archie Collins of Exeter. Photo: Joe Dent.
Peterborough United thought they had secured all three points at St James Park only to end up leaving with nothing.

It’s the oldest adage in the book, the curse of the player playing against his former club. Posh thought they had gotten off lightly with just an assist for Jevani Brown against the club he admitted he caused problems for, not the other way around in the week.

The former academy man did so again for Posh in this one but this time would have taken joy from the fact he crashed in a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser after Posh thought they had won it.

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There were wild scenes in the away end as Ephron Mason-Clark smashed in an 82nd-minute cross after Posh had completely dominated the second half. They did not have many clear-cut chances before that to look back on despite this though and that will be the frustrating part for Grant McCann.

There seemed no way back, however, but in a scary throwback to last season, Posh capitulated and conceded two late goals in the space of five minutes. They first failed to deal with a ball into the box, leading to a goalmouth scramble and then left a gaping hole in the heart of for Jevani Brown to run through and smash home to cue pandemonium in Devon.

There were plenty of gasps at 2pm as well when Posh brought a depleted side to St James Park with Frankie Kent suspended, Josh Knight and Joel Randall ill, Nathan Thompson absent due to a family issue and Joe Ward and Kwame Poku still not fit. Ben Thompson was drafted back in for his first start in six matches at right-back as Posh still stuck to the 4-3-3.

A new-look bench saw youngsters Emmanuel Fernandez and Ben Mensah make long-awaited comebacks from long injury lay-offs. Even David Ajiboye was in a league squad for the first time since the home match against Lincoln in August.

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The hosts made the early running in the first half and created the better opportunities. Jevani Brown had the opportunity to show Posh’s academy what they missed out on, when three Posh bodies just watched a dropping ball in the box. His curling effort flew just wide of Bergstrom’s right-hand post.

That seemed to spur Posh into life and Harrison Burrows twice tested Jamal Blackman with long-range efforts but Brown soon made his point.

Exeter pressed on though and won a corner after Lucas Bergstrom had to tip a thunderous 40-yard strike round from Archie Collins around the post. Brown stepped up and put the ball right on the head of Tim Dieng to head home.

Once again Posh needed the impetus of the opposition to wake up and they did so. Moments after Ephron Mason-Clark had put a header on a plate for him to head home, only for him to steer the ball wide. He blocked an Archie Collins cross and belted a shot from the left-edge of the box into the far corner.

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It became clear why Exeter had conceded 25 goals in 17 before today as Posh pressed on. They should have gone into the break ahead but Mason-Clark could only plant a free header over the bar from Burrows’ well-placed corner.

Posh controlled the start of the second half but it was a low-key affair until Jack Taylor, won the ball himself and charged forward to the edge of the box and forced Blackman to save. He swiftly pumped in the corner and Jones had a good chance but headed wide.

Despite dominance of the ball, they didn’t go close again until the final 20 minutes when Ephron-Mason Clark stung the palms of Blackman after a low cross from Kell Watts. The centre-back was up for a corner that had seen a goalbound effort from Clarke-Harris blocked.

They kept knocking at the door though and with just six minutes to go, it was opened by Mason-Clark as he slid in at the far post to deflect home Ben Thompson's dipping cross.

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By rights, that should have been that but that isn’t how football works. Jack Marriott came on as Posh switched to a back three and then the problems began.

Exeter produced a Tyson Fury-esque rise from the canvas. They equalised after a Jake Caprice cross was headed back across goal, ahead of Harrison Burrows, and substitute Sam Nombe scrambled it in at about the fourth time of asking.

The tide turned and Posh couldn’t handle the Exeter wave, which ended in Jevani Brown slamming in Jay Stansfield’s clever through-ball past the on-rushing Lucas Bergstrom.

Posh: Lucas Bergstrom, Dan Butler, Kell Watts, Ronnie Edwards, Ben Thompson, Jeando Fuchs, Jack Taylor, Harrison Burrows, Ephron Mason-Clark (Jack Marriott, 84 mins), Ricky-Jade Jones (David Ajiboye, 73 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris

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Not used: Will Blackmore, Hector Kyprianou, Benji Mensah, Joe Taylor, Manu Fernandez.

Exeter: Jamal Blackman, Jack Sparkes (Harry Kite, 84 mins), Alex Hartridge, Pierce Sweeney, Josh Key, Jake Caprice, Tim Dieng, Archie Collins, Matt Jay (Sam Nombe, 62 mins), Jevani Brown, Jay Stansfield

Not used: Harry Lee, Rekeem Harper, Kegs Chauke, Jonathan Grounds, Mitch Beardmore

Nartey, Kevin Berkoe, Lorent Tolaj, Elliot Simoes, Matt Smith, Josh O’Brien.

Goals: Posh – Clarke-Harris 40 mins, Mason-Clark 83 mins

Exeter: – Dieng 28 mins, Sam Nombe 86 mins, Jevani Brown 91 mins

Posh – None

Exeter – Dieng (foul), Sparkes (foul), Brown (removed shirt)

Referee: Tom Reeves