REPORT: DERBY COUNTY 1, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: Plucky Posh beaten at the death by super Sibley strike
It was certainly deserved on the balance of play, but coming so late after such a heroic defensive effort was yet another sickening blow for the team to take. It’s quite likely a terminal one for this season.
Substitute Louie Sibley took deadly aim from the corner of the penalty area and found the opposite corner of the net past Steven Benda’s despairing dive. Posh might wonder why there was little attempt at closing the striker down, but the visitors were out on their feet by then after charging around on a heavy pitch for an hour with just 10 men.
Hayden Coulson was the Posh man dismissed after picking up two yellow cards in the space of six minutes towards the end of the first half. Derby star Tom Lawrence lost his head at the start of the second-half to also pick up a red (there were also 10 cautions including the Posh manager), but it made little difference to the home side who dominated the game and created all the chances.
Posh had moments of promise, but the final ball was invariably inaccurate. Home ‘keeper Ryan Allsopp made no saves, not an unusual occurrence in a Posh match this season.
Manager Darren Ferguson tried to be proactive with his substitutions, but to no effect.
Ferguson responded to a run of four games without a goal by axing centre-forward Jonson Clarke-Harris and emerging star Kwame Poku in favour of former Ram Jack Marriott and on-loan striker Callum Morton.
It was a formidable task whoever played given Derby have lost just twice at home and had the backing of 30,000 fans excited at the club’s attempt at the Great Escape.
With that sort of support it was no surprise Derby started the better. They dominated the ball and forced Posh back, but created nothing until a friendly rebound gave Laurence a shooting chance which Posh ‘keeper Steven Benda tipped around a post.
Luke Plange then nodded a corner over the bar, before Posh started to control possession better. Reece Brown shot wide from 25 yards and Coulson struck the base of a post, albeit with a cross.
Good chances to play Morton, who started on the left of three forwards, and Ward through on goal were then spurned before Posh’s world collapsed again not longer after Josh Knight’s terrific block to keep out a Festy Ebosole shot.
Coulson was cautioned after appearing to slip and miss an attempted tackle on the speedy Ebosele on the half hour and six minutes the left-back was undone by the pace of the same player as his slide tackle was a fraction late. It was an ill-advised attempted tackle though and referee James Linington was happy to flash two yellow cards.
Benda immediately made a great save to keep out Matt Bird’s top-corner bound 25 yarder as Posh made it safely to half time. Bali Mumba came on for Morton after the red card.
Lawrence’s indiscretion on Nathan Thompson immediately evened the numbers up and Ferguson promptly sent Clarke-Harris on, followed soon after by Ricky-Jade Jones, but aside from one thrilling run by the youngster their impact was limited as Posh couldn’t keep hold of the ball.
Joe Ward had one chance to find Clarke-Harris with a cross, but overhit it as the better chances arrived at the other end. There weren’t many though as Josh Knight and Frankie Kent were outstanding at the heart of the Posh defence.
Kent blocked a goalbound Bird volley before the home midfielder failed to land either of two free kicks close to the Posh penalty area.
Craig Forsyth missed a great chance at the back post after an Ebosele pull back and Nathan Byrne glanced a header wide. Sibley almost forced a misdirected shot from Plange over the line from close range, but Benda arrived in the nick of time.
It looked like Posh were at least going to escape with a draw and keep themselves above Derby for another few days at least, but all regular Posh watchers would have known different.
Posh: Steven Benda, Hayden Coulson, Frankie Kent, Josh Knight, Nathan Thompson, Reece Brown, Oliver Norburn, Jeando Fuchs (sub Jonson Clarke-Harris, 51 mins), Joe Ward, Callum Morton (sub Bali Mumba, 37 mins), Jack Marriott (sub Ricky-Jade Jones 60 mins).
Unused substitutes: Dai Cornell, Bali Mumba, Ronnie Edwards, Ricky-Jade Jones, Kwame Poku, Jorge Grant.
Derby: Ryan Allsop, Max Bird, Curtis Davies, Craig Forsyth (sub Louie Sibley, 71 mins), Nathan Byrne, Krystian Bielik (sub Ravel Morrison, 83 mins),Festy Ebosele, Jason Knight (sub Bartosz Cybulski, 90 mins), Eiran Cashin, Tom Lawrence, Luke Plange
Unused substitutes: Kelle Roos, Liam Thompson, Malcolm Ebiowei, Jack Stretton.
Goals: Derby - Sibley (90 + 2 mins).
Sending off: Derby - Lawrence (serious foul play).
Posh (Coulson, second yellow, foul).
Cautions: Posh - Coulson (foul), Brown (yellow), Jones (foul), Thompson (foul). Knight (delaying the restart), Ferguson (manager, dissent).
Derby - Byrne (delaying the restart), Davies (foul), Allsopp (delaying the restart). Morrison (foul).
Referee: James Linington 7.
Attendance: 30,241 (1800 Posh).