It can’t possibly get much worse than this, hopefully. Posh went down 4-0 at Ewood Park to a Blackburn Rovers who rarely bothered to try and find top gear.
Why would they waste effort on this opposition? Posh were shocking defensively, awful in middle areas and wasteful up front when they did create chances in the second half.
The game was pretty much all over by the break with the hosts 3-0 ahead, but who knows what an early goal after the break would have done to the confidence of both teams? As it was Posh rolled over and acceped a four goal beating. It was an alarming performance even by the standard of road trips this season.
The big news concerned the return of Jonson Clarke-Harris to the Posh starting line-up, which would have pleased chairman Darragh McAnthony among other less influential personalities.
Clarke-Harris replaced Jorge Grant in the only change to the side that played reasonably well in defeat at Stoke.
Blackburn made four changes to their starting line-up, but goal machine Ben Brereton-Diaz sadly wasn’t one of them.
Posh stuck with the three centre-back system though. Siriki Dembele was deployed just behind Clarke-Harris and Szmodics.
The hosts were first to threaten as Harry Pickering sent a third minute free kick over the bar and Joe Rothwell sidefooted straight at Posh ‘keeper Dai Cornell after Posh had been opened up rather easily in the fifth minute.
The game went a little flat for a while, but familar failings were soon punished by a home team that strolled through the first half and yet finished it three goals to the good. They received a generous helping hand from a dozing defence.
A wayward Clarke-Harris pass ended with the freedom of the park for John Buckley to cross the ball and little wing-back Harry Pickering outjumping Frankie Kent for 1-0 in the 18th minute. It was a fine header, but even so...
The second goal on 35 minutes was even more calamitous as Nathan Thompson, normally so reliable, was caught in possession in his own area by Tyrhys Dolan who squared for Brereton-Diaz to tap into an empty net for the easiest of his 15 goals this season.
Just 60 seconds earlier Dembele and Joe Ward had combined superbly before the latter’s pull-back had been thumped against a defender by Szmodics.
Posh visibly crumbled and a third goal came as no surprise, although Mark Beevers was ridiculously unlucky to be punished, belatedly, for a great tackle on Dolan by a foul, a caution and then a goal as Darragh Lenihan scored with an unchallenged header from the free kick in the final minute pof the first half.
It was pitiful to watch from a Posh point of view. Szmodics impressed with his effort and running, but too many others strolled around, looking apprehensive and slow. Players like Jack Taylor, Dembele and Clarke-Harris are surely not as bad as they showed in this 45 minutes?
The formation could easily have been changed after 15 minutes as it wasn’t working going forward or while defending. Beevers and Dan Butler on the left in this system is a recipe for trouble. Both were pressed as soon as they received possession and neither liked it.
Posh made a double substitution at the break with Kent and Beevers replaced by teenagers Ronnie Edwards and Harrison Burrows. The three centre-backs surpisingly stayed though with Butler moving inside and Thompson to the right of Edwards.
And Posh created two great chances in the opening five minutes of the half. Unfortunately neither fell to Dembele.
Taylor’s driving run into the penalty area was followed by a driven cross that Clarke-Harris couldn’t divert on target from close range in the 48th minute and two minutes later a cute Dembele pass sent Szmodics through on goal, but he rather telegraphed his shot and Thomas Kaminski made the save.
Of course it couldn’t last and after Butler had made a decent block to thwart Dolan, a careless sideways pass by Oliver Norburn was intercepted and played through to Brereton-Diaz who finished expertly, as you’d expect from a striker in prime form.
Posh boss Darren Ferguson immediately hauled Norburn off and his Blackburn counterpart Tony Mowbray, perhaps in sympathy, withdrew Brerereton-Diaz at the same time.
Posh had their chances. A terrific cross from Dembele, who even in fits and starts has far more quality than his teammates, found Clarke-Harris six yards from goal. He in turn found the grateful midriff of Kaminski.
The game petered out in the final quarter. Posh had long had the life sucked out of them, while Blackburn saved themselves for sterner tests.
For Posh next up is fellow strugglers Barnsley at home. A must-win game for both even though it will just be the 20th match of the season for both.
Posh: Dai Cornell, Dan Butler, Frankie Kent (sub Ronnie Edwards, 46 mins), Nathan Thompson, Mark Beevers (sub Harrison Burrows, 46 mins), Joe Ward, Jack Taylor, Oliver Norburn (sub Conor Coventry, 62 mins), Sammie Szmodics, Siriki Dembele, Jonson Clarke-Harris
Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Josh Knight, Kwame Poku, Jorge Grant.
Blackburn: Thomas Kaminski, Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Daniel Ayala (sub Bradley Johnson, 27 mins), Scott Wharton, Harry Pickering, Lewis Travis, Joe Rothwell, John Buckley (sub Dan Butterworth, 68 mins), Tyrhys Dolan, Ben Brereton-Diaz (sub Rheda Khadra, 62 mins).
Uhused subs: Aynsley Pears, Tayo Edun, Jacob Davenport, Lieghton Clarkson
Goals: Blackburn - Pickering (18 mins), Brereton-Diaz (35 mins & 62 mins), Lenihan (45 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Beevers (foul), Edwards (foul).
Blackburn - Brereton-Diaz (delaying the restart).
Referee: John Brooks 6
Attendance: 9,038 (267 Posh).