REACTION: Fergie frustrated by missed opportunities, a start that lacked authority and a penalty not awarded against Sunderland

Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson was frustrated his side couldn’t beat League One automatic promotion rivals Sunderland at the Weston Homes Stadium today (April 5).

Monday, 5th April 2021, 7:04 pm
Posh forward Sammie Szmodics is denied by Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge. Photo: David Lowndes.

Posh were held to a 1-1 draw after taking the lead through substitute Siriki Dembele midway through the second-half. A late free-kick from Aiden McGeady saved a point for the visitors after star midfielder Jack Taylor had been caught in possession. Goalkeeper Christy Pym’s positioning at the set-piece was also questioned, but his movement was restricted by a hip injury picked up earlier in the game.

Sunderland saw a lot of the ball, but Posh created the better scoring opportunities. That plus the failure of referee Craig Hicks to award a second-half penalty when a Jonson Clarke-Harris was blocked by a diving defender, allegedly with his hands, ensured Ferguson finished the game disappointed, even though promotion remains in his side’s hands with seven matches to go.

“I am disappointed with the way the game panned out,” Ferguson admitted. “When we went ahead, we had two really big opportunities to kill the game off through Sammie Szmodics. We also had a clear penalty denied. I have watched it back. The guy has dived and saved Jonno’s shot with his hands.

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Jonson Clarke-Harris in action for Posh against Swindon. Photo: David Lowndes.

“We didn’t start the first half with enough authority. They did, but I can’t remember them creating too many opportunities from open play though. My two centre halves were immense. They picked the biggest, most physical side they could and we coped with them fine.

“We asked the players at half-time to play with more confidence. We passed the ball better and we caused them problems. Joe Ward gave their left-back trouble. We fancied we could get at them down that side and it led a goal thanks to some great play by Nathan Thompson and a fine finish from Siriki.

“And then we should have gone on to win. Sammie had two great chances to get the second goal that would have sealed the points.

“But then we conceded a free kick on the edge of our area and the one person in this league you don’t want stood over the ball from that range is McGeady because he has so much quality.

Posh top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris sees his fierce drive blocked by Luke O'Nien. Photo: David Lowndes.

“Everything is avoidable as that free kick was. It was Jack’s first 90 minutes for ages. He’s the best midfielder in the league. I thought the free kick went in the middle of the goal at first, but it was better than that. Christy had picked up a hip injury, but maybe his starting position was a little off.

“I’m disappointed, but there are going to be plenty of twists and turns between now and the end of the season. This game was never going to define the season and that is how it has panned out. We still have everything in our hands because Hull have to play Sunderland.”

Leaders Hull beat Northampton Town 3-0 at the KCom Stadium to move three points clear of second-placed Posh who have a game in hand. Third-placed Sunderland are two points further back with a game in hand on Posh.