REPORT: MIllwall 3, Peterborough United 0. Posh collapsed as soon as the heat was turned up at the Den

Not for the first time this season, Peterborough United crumbled when the heat was turned up in a Championship fixture.

By Alan Swann
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 5:03 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th April 2022, 5:49 pm
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United in action with Shaun Hutchinson of Millwall. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United in action with Shaun Hutchinson of Millwall. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com

Posh played pretty well in a goalless first-half at Millwall, but when their hosts upped their tempo they couldn't cope. The Lions scored three times after the breal and hit the woodwork twice as they tried to keep their play-off hopes alive. The 3-0 win won’t be good enough, but they’ve enjoyed another decent season.Posh missed their one big chance towards the end of the first-half as plenty of possession, and numerous corners, failed to lead to many opportunities.Manager Grant McCann made two changes to his starting line-up and returned to a three centre-back formation. Joe Ward was back at right wingback and Jack Marriott back up top. Kwame Poke and Ricky-Jade Jones dropped to the bench.

Following Sheffield United's Friday night win ony a big victory would realistically keep the Lions in the hunt for a play-off place. It was only a consolation prize for Posh, but Barnsley's lunchtime defeat meant McCann's men couldn't finish bottom.

The atmosphere at the Den was predictably hostile, to start with at least, although Posh fans started in great voice, many lubricated nicely pre-match at Borough Market no doubt.As for the game? The first-half was flatter than a Keir Starmer speech. Both goalkeepers could have taken a deckchair out with them. They could have worked from home and the game might still have reached the break without a goal.

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Posh played pretty well though. They passed the ball neatly and their midfield patterns were impressive, while their fluidity was encouraging with left wingback Harrison Burrows popping up centrally to great effect.

Little was created through despite some clever promptings from Sammie Szmodics. It was he who set up the golden opportuntity of the first-half with a lovely pass which freed Jonson Clarke-Harris inside the area. Sadly the potential Jamaican international tried the more difficult finish with his favoured left foot rather than try an easier option with his right.

Both sides struggled to deliver an accurate cross with Posh defending particularly well on the odd occasion the centre wasnt overhit. Ronnie Edwards was, of course, excellent.But the Lions were a different beast at the start of the second-half and should really have gone head in the first minute. George Saville timed his run perfectly to meet a short cross from Danny McNamara, but his eight yard shot was superbly save by Dai Cornell.Clarke-Harris then spooned a half-chance over the bar from a Josh Knight cross before Jack Marriott's lovely turn and low left foot shot was tipped behind by home keeper Bartosz Bialkowski. Knight was again the provider.

But then, not for the first time this season, hopeless officiating made a difference as a dithering assistant decided to award Millwall a throw in by the corner flag which seemed to surprise both teams as well as home fans who appeared to burst into laughter.

Not that it excused a poor attempt to defend a long throw, especially after Clarke-Harris won the initial header. Benik Afobe had time to have an airshot with his right foot before powering a left-footer into the corner to give his side a 53rd minute lead.

Posh responded with a double substitution and a change of formation, but it was Millwall who took charge. Within 60 seconds Murray Wallace saw a drive deflected onto the crossbar and Saville nodded against a post from close range.

A second goal appeared inevitable and it arrived on 73 minutes when Knight, possibly distracted by Edwards' failed attempt to clear a cross from substitute Jed Wallace, turned the ball into his own net from close range.

And it was three within three minutes when Saville arrived at the back post to power home another Wallace cross. That was harsh on Cornell who had just beaten away a free header from Jake Cooper.

Posh kept plugging away and could have pulled a goal back late on affter a fine surge from substitute Poku. He fed Ward perfectly, but the decision to take a touch rather than shoot first time proved costly and Cooper raced back to block.

Posh remain on 34 points and require a draw next Saturday from a home game with Blackpool to avoid equalling the worst tally in the club's history.

Posh: Dai Cornell, Harrison Burrows, Frankie Kent (sub Kwame Poke, 56 mins), Ronnie Edwards, Josh Knight, Joe Ward, Jeando Fuchs (sub Joel Randall, 73 mins), Jack Taylor, Sammie Szmodics, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Jack Marriott (sub Ricky-Jade Jones, 56 mins).Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Mark Beevers, Jorge Grant, Joe Taylor.Millwall: Bartosz Bialkowski, Dan McNamara, Murray Wallace, Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper, George Saville, Ryan Leonard (sub Jed Wallace, 54 mins), Billy Mithchell, Ollie Burke (sub Tyler Burey, 82 mins), Tom Bradshaw (sub Mason Bennett, 53 mins), Benik Afobe.Unused subs: George Long, Maikel Keiftenbeld, Alex Pearce, George Evans.Goals: Millwall - Afobe (53 mins), Knight (og, 74 mins), Saville (76 mins).Cautions: None.Referee: Geoff Eltringham 7.Attendance: 16,705 (635 Posh).