LUTON TOWN 4, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: Ten-man Posh humbled by promotion rivals
Peterborough United suffered a humbling afternoon at Kenilworth Road, slipping to a 4-0 defeat to strong automatic promotion contenders Luton Town (January 19).
Posh were not helped by a first-half red card for centre-back Ryan Tafazolli, but they were already a goal down by then and their feeble resistence in adversity should be of great concern to manager Steve Evans.
Luton haven’t lost at home all season and haven’t lost in League One at all since October 13 so this was always going to be the toughest remaining fixture for Posh, even with a full complement of players, and Evans will now hope his players are not too demoralised for the rest of the campaign. Doncaster conceding a late goal to Burton did at least Posh in the final play-off place.
Posh did enter the lion’s den with hope after some decent recruitment and Luton’s hectic recent schedule - a positive team selection suggested Evans fancied a shock win in his 50th game as manager - but the first-half turned into a nightmare.
The hosts started superbly and took a deserved lead in the eighth minute through James Collins. Posh responded and were enjoying a dominant spell when centre-back Ryan Tafazolli was sent off for serious foul play after a robust challenge near halfway.
Tafazolli, who’s not exactly known for the hard tackling (three cautions all season so far), was dismissed after Premier League referee David Coote had consulted with his assistant. The consensus around the press box suggested it was very much ‘a modern’ decision, but one with little chance of being overturned.
Collins added his second goal soon afterwards - they were identical strikes from right-wing Jack Stacey crosses - and it became damage limitation from then on. Collins missed two great chances to complete a first-half hat-trick as Posh disappeared as an attacking force. Siriki Dembele, who failed to track Stacey for both goals, was sacrificed for Joe Ward after Tafazolli’s departure.
During their dominant spell Posh had created nothing. Lee Tomlin and Marcus Maddison both failing miserably from 25 yard free kicks while Dembele’s burst into the penalty area was marred by a weak shot.
Posh reacted by taking off Tomlin and Kyle Dempsey at the break with George Cooper and skipper Alex Woodyard coming on.
One feared slick-passing Luton would be the worst possible team to play against with 10 men and that point was rammed home eight minutes into the second-half when Posh lost possession enabling Kazenga Lua Lua, who for once stayed upright, to play the perfect pass for Collins to complete his hat-trick.
The fourth Luton goal midway through the second-half was worryingly easy as Luke Berry accepted a pass on the edge of the area, turned past his marker and finished easily.
Luton brought on former Posh loanees George Thorne and George Moncur with just over 20 minutes to go and the latter was denied a debut goal by a brilliant goalline clearance from Ben White after a jinking run past some powderpuff tackling.
Posh rarely ventured forward after the break. Maddison did find the back of the net, but only from an offside position, before blasting a decent shot fom 30 yards into the Luton fans behind the goal.
Thankfully Luton coasted through the final 20 minutes or so. Posh will now have to lick their wounds ahead of another tough game at home to Charlton next Saturday (January 26).
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Daniel Lafferty, Ben White, Ryan Tafazolli, Callum Cooke, Kyle Dempsey (sub Alex Woodyard, 46 mins), Siriki Dembele (sub Joe Ward, 29 mins), Marcus Maddison, Lee Tomlin (sub George Cooper, 46 mins), Ivan Toney:
Unused substitutes: Matt Stevens, Matt Godden, Conor O’Malley, Louis Reed.
Luton: James Shea, Jack Stacey, Matt Pearson (sub Alan Sheehan, 77 mins), Sonny Bradley, James Justin, Alan McCormack (sub George Thorne, 69 mins), Andrew Shinnie (sub George Moncur, 69 mins), Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu, Luke Berry, Kazenga Lua Lua, James Collins.
Substitutes: Dan Potts, Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Jones, Harry Isted.
Goals: Luton - Collins (8 mins, 28 mins & 53 mins), Berry (66 mins).
Sending off: Posh - Tafazolli (serious foul play).
Cautions: Posh - Maddison (foul), Toney (foul).
Luton - Pearson (foul).
Referee: David Coote 7.
Attendance: 10,055 (1,031 Posh).