Peterborough United mugged by two late goals and a referee at Derby County

Jack Taylor of Peterborough United in action against Derby County. Photo: Joe Dent/ Taylor of Peterborough United in action against Derby County. Photo: Joe Dent/
Jack Taylor of Peterborough United in action against Derby County. Photo: Joe Dent/
A mugging took place at Pride Park on Saturday as the 10-men of Peterborough United fell victim to two late goals and a desperately poor refereeing display from Bobby Madden.

Madden, who has come down from Scotland to make headlines in England, gave Posh a mountain to climb with his contentious decision – and that’s being polite – to send off Nathan Thompson early in the second-half.

Posh had looked the equals of Derby until that point and stayed positive to jump into a surprise lead on 67 minutes through substitute Josh Knight.

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But the home side rallied to score twice in three late minutes through Jason Knight and substitute David McGoldrick.

It’s arguable Posh substitutions didn’t help their cause as they failed to get out of their own half for much of the final 15 minutes because they had no outlet up top, but 11 v 11 they would have fancied their chances of winning, never mind drawing.

Crucially Posh also removed much of their height with Knight equalising from a free header from a corner.

They also lacked their normal sharpness in front of goal, snatching at shots and failing to really test home ‘keeper Joe Wildsmith despite finding themselves in favourable positions.

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As expected Posh reverted to the starting line-up that emphatically despatched Lincoln City last weekend, but there were places on the bench for new signing Ephron Mason-Clark and for milion-pound man Joel Randall who had recovered from his latest injury. On-loan goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright also made his first appearance in a matchday squad, but there was no place for young back-up, and much discussed, forwards Joe Taylor or Ricky-Jade Jones. Jones’ absence was explained by ‘a knock’. Summer signing David Ajiboye was also left out of the squad.

Former Posh player Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was absent from the Derby squad for personal reasons. The Rams sought to cure their goalscoring issues by fielding in-form Louie Sibley – the late matchwinner in this fixture last season – alongside summer signing James Collins.

Posh started neatly, passing the ball through the thirds and creating half a chance for Harrison Burrows which he spurned by cutting inside rather than shooting and Jack Marriott couldn’t quite connect with a typically teasing Joe Ward cross. Marriott then blazed wildy over after Wildsmith passed the ball straight to him 25 yards from goal.

But Derby finally settled and laid siege on the visiting goal with the help of a succession of set-pieces.

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Tom Barkhuizen skinned Nathan Thompson and set up a shooting chance that Louie Sibley blazed over before Bergstom tipped over Barkhuizen’s shot after a Ronnie Edwards error. From the corner Bergstrom rescued Posh again with a sharp double save from Sibley and Barkhuizen before Jonson Clarke-Harris threw himself in the way of a close-range strike.

Bergstrom was close to punching a corner into his own net, but Posh weathered the storm and started to control possession. Clarke-Harris screwed his shot wide after drifting behind the home defence to reach Jack Taylor’s pass. A couple of slightly overhit passes from Ben Thompson and Taylor also stopped promising attacks in their tracks, while lanky centre-back Richard Stearman did well to intercept a Burrows cross that looked bound for the head of Clarke-Harris.

Burrows then saw a low shot saved after good work from Clarke-Harris and Marriott.

Derby almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Bergstrom saved from Barkhuizen and Nathan Thompson bravely blocked Conor Hourihane’s follow-up.

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One concern for Posh at the break was the performance of Madden who managed to caution three Posh players and warn the visiting technical area, while treating the home players far more compassionately. Sibley shoved Nathan Thompson to the ground at one point which bizarrely led to a home free kick and a caution for the Posh defender.

And that concern was borne out 10 minutes after the break when Barkhuizen threw himself to the ground after pushing the ball past Nathan Thompson. Madden’s decision to brandish a second yellow card wasn’t immediate, but still seemed inevitable. Thompson took the slow walk off as Posh fans queued up to complain about a ‘blatant dive.’

Posh had started the second-half well with Ben Thompson shooting badly wide from 22 yards with goalkeeper Wildsmith out of position and a Burrows cross deflected just wide of a post.

Posh kept both strikers on after the red with Knight replacing Taylor – who had also been cautioned in the first-half – and Burrows was soon flashing a strike over the bar from a tight angle. Clarke-Harris then saw a header from Ward’s cross hacked off the line by Eiran Cashin, but Posh were in front 60 seconds later.

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A corner was cleared and returned to taker Burrows and his precise cross was headed goalwards by Frankie Kent with Knight charging in to stab over the line.

Posh withdrew Marriott and then Clarke-Harris, but replacements Mason-Clarke and Kwame Poku could not get on the ball to relieve pressure.

Substitute Craig Forsyth drilled a cross onto the top of the Posh crossbar and Bergstrom saved well from Sibley until an 89th minute corner dragged Derby level.

And another corner two minutes later proved fatal. Bergstrom punched when he should have caught the ball and Poku’s weak header was picked up by the home side and returned for McGoldrick to sidefoot home from close range.

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Posh did respond and a Kent header was gathered by Wildsmith before Madden blew his final whistle. The official who sent off Lee Tomlin in his first game in England had ensured he would again be a central talking point.

Posh: Lucas Bergstrom, Harrison Burrows, Frankie Kent, Nathan Thompson, Ronnie Edwards, Joe Ward, Jeando Fuchs, Jack Taylor (sub Josh Knight, 56 mins), Ben Thompson (sub Hector Kyprianou, 84 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris (sub Kwame Poku, 84 mins), Jack Marriott (sub Ephron Mason-Clarke, 77 mins).

Unused subs: Harvey Cartwright, Joe Tomlinson, Joel Randall.

Derby: Joe Wildsmith, Haydon Roberts (sub Craig Forsyth, 46 mins), Eiran Cashin, Richard Stearman, Jason Knight, Max Bird (sub Korey Smith, 69 mins), Conor Hourihane, Tom Barkhuizen, Lewis Dobbin, Louie Sibley, James Collins (sub David McGoldrick, 69 mins).

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Unused subs: Scott Loach, Liam Thompson, Kwaku Oruroh, Jake Rooney.

Goals: Posh – Knight (68 mins).

Derby – Knight (89 mins), McGoldrick (90 + 2 mins).

Red card: Posh – N. Thompson (second yellow, foul).

Cautions: Posh – Taylor (persistent fouling), N. Thompson (foul), Burrows (foul).

Derby – Stearman (foul).

Referee: Bobby Madden 4.

Attendance: 26,440 (approx 1800 Posh).