PORTSMOUTH 1, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: Unlucky Posh beaten by a late goal in the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final
Peterborough United bowed out of the Checkatrade Trophy at the quarter-final stage for the second season in a row after losing to a late goal at Portsmouth tonight (January 22)..
David Wheeler’s flick with his right foot from an 85th minute corner sent the South Coast side through to the last four. The result was harsh on Posh who enjoyed lots of possession, but failed to find a finish or very many decent final balls.
Pompey survived a mad scramble in their goalmouth 10 minutes from time before breaking out to score a goal they had rarely threatened.
It’s a tough balancing act for promotion-chasing managers when Wembley is two wins away. Pompey made seven changes to their last League One starting line-up, while Posh made five alterations to the side thumped 4-0 at Luton on Saturday.
Posh fielded the far more experienced side though and it included centre-back Ryan Tafazolli who was surprisingly eligible to play thanks to competition rules that continue to defy logic. Tafazolli’s red card at Kenilworth Road would have ruled him out of a Checkatrade Trophy group game, but not a knockout match in the same competition. Go figure.
Posh stuck to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Lee Tomlin playing wider than in recent matches and George Cooper adopting the central role behind sole striker Ivan Toney. Joe Ward was on the other flank as regular wingers Siriki Dembele and Marcus Maddison were left on the substitutes’ bench.
There is a suspicion a quicker striker than Toney would have hurt pedestrian centre-backs, one of whom was former Posh man Christian Burgess. With these players the ball over the top wasn’t really an option.
Pormpey should have opened the scoring midway through the first-half when Wheeler popped up behind the Posh back four who then failed to reach to the danger. Fortunately recalled goalkeeper Conor O’Malley was alert and he raced out to make a fine block.
Posh improved thereafter. The passing in midfield was usually short and accurate and Ward and Jason Naismith started to make progress down the right flank. One Naismith pull-back should have yielded a better return than Cooper firing against a defender and one Ward cross was misjudged horribly by Pompey ‘keeper Craig MacGillivary, but as Daniel Lafferty looked to tap the ball into an empty bet, Wheeler raced back to clear.
Posh missed their best opportunity five minutes before the break. Callum Cooke fed Tomlin who’s sublime flick found Cooper beyond the Pompey back four. Sadly, for such a good technical player, his touch let him down.
Wheler had another chance to shoot Pompey in front at the start of the second-half after some terrible Posh marking, but he blazed over the bar.
Posh recovered from a sluggish start to start knocking the ball around prettily, but their final ball was often poor, or Toney would shoot wildly from distance.
Cooper livened up in the second-half, but should have given Posh the lead 15 minutes from time after a superb run from substitute Dembele. Cooper received the ball in a central position 16 yards from goal, and under no pressure, but pulled and mishit his attempt at goal horribly.
Dembele had replaced Tomlin who nontheless got a useful 70 minutes under his belt.
Pompey then somehow survived a remarkable spell of play 10 minutes from time. MacGillvary saved Cooper’s shot, Toney’s follow-up attempt was blocked by the keeper, Naismith’s piledriver was blocked on the line by Burgess and the full-back’s header then struck the crossbar.
And typically, after some serious good fortune, Pompey broke away and scored from an 85th minute corner as Wheeler made amends for his earlier misses with a header that entered the net off the underside of the crossbar.
It was very harsh on Posh who have travelled some long distances in this much-maligned competition. At least they can now concentrate on the league.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Jason Naismith, Daniel Lafferty, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard (sub Matt Godden, 86 mins), Callum Cooke, Joe Ward, George Cooper, Lee Tomlin (sub Siriki Dembele, 69 mins), Ivan Toney.
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Darren Lyon, Tyler Denton, Marcus Maddison, Matt Stevens.
Portsmouth: Craig MacGillivray, Haji Mnoga (sub Louis Dennis, 58 mins), Matt Casey, Christian Burgess, Brendan Haunstrup, Ben Close (sub Matt Clarke, 86 mins), Adam May, David Wheeler, Gareth Evans, Jamal Lowe, Dan Smith (sub Anton Walkes, 58 mins).
Unused substitutes: Alex Bass, Dion Donohoe, Freddie Read, Bradley Lethbridge.
Goals: Pompey - Wheeler (85 mins).
Cautions: Pompey - Close (foul).
Referee: Andy Woolmer 7
Attendance: 3,313 (121 Posh).