REPORT: PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0, MIDDLESBROUGH 4: The end is nigh for Posh after a spanking from Boro

Peterborough United were shoved closer to the relegation trapdoor after being outclassed by a slick Middlesbrough side at the Weston Homes Stadium today (April 2).

By Alan Swann
Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:43 pm
Marcus Tavernier of Middlesbrough celebrates scoring the opening goal at Posh. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Marcus Tavernier of Middlesbrough celebrates scoring the opening goal at Posh. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

It finished 4-0 to the promotion-chasing visitors, a scoreline that didn’t flatter them at all. Posh played with attacking promise in the first-half, but were lucky to only be a goal down at the break.

But a second goal early in the second-half killed the game and a comeback was never threatened before Boro added two more goals in the final 10 minutes.

The result returned Posh to the bottom of the table. It’s where they deserve to be and where they will probably stay.

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Posh boss Grant McCann sprang a selection surprise by handing a Football League debut to 20 year-old centre-back Emmanuel Fernandez. An even bigger surprise given first-team regular Ronnie Edwards was fit enough to sit on the bench. The newcomer started on the right of the back three.

Harrison Burrows predictably replaced Bali Mumba as a left wing-back, while on-loan midfielder Reece Brown came back inside from the cold to sit on the substitutes’ bench with fit again forward Ricky-Jade Jones.

Boro’s improvement after replacing Neil Warnock as manager with Chris Wilder has been impressive. They needed to win this game to have a chance of moving into the play-off places and their away form had been sketchy.

Posh started well with Sammie Szmodics sending a second minute cross just out of Jack Marriott’s reach and Jonson Clarke-Harris drilling a shot wide from 20 yards after Boro had given up possession.

A great long pass from Jack Taylor was then chested down by Szmodics into the path of Marriott, but his shot was well blocked.

But once Boro settled down their movement and quality enabled them to carve great holes in the Posh defence out wide and through the middle.

Desperate blocks from Fernandez and Josh Knight were important before Aaron Connolly headed just wide from a right wing cross.

For all the visiting pressure Posh found hope in the spaces behind some very adventurous defenders and they were nearly gifted the opening goal in the 23rd minute by Boro ‘keeper Joe Lumley whose mad dash out of his area gave Marriott the chance to score from 50 yards. The strike was true, but without the pace required to stop Paddy McNair clearing off the line. Fernandez showed great technique to volley the ball at goal from the corner, but Lumley’s positioning was much better this time and the save was comfortable.

But Boro were soon back on top and took the lead on 27 minutes with a fine curling strike from Marcus Tavernier after Posh had made a poor attempt to clear a free kick.

It should have been 2-0 and 3-0 within minutes as Connolly intercepted a weak back header from Frankie Kent to tee up Folarin Balogun only for Knight to make a terrific stop on the goalline with goalkeeper Dai Cornell nowhere to be seen.

Connolly then failed to control the ball from five yards out as Marc Bola burst behind the Posh defence from the left wing back position to set him up.

Posh did finish the half well though with Szmodics muffing a chance after fine play from Clarke-Harris before the latter was twice denied from close range following a Joe Ward corner.

Clarke-Harris was proving to be a handful, but his day was done after 45 minutes as McCann opted for the sheer speed of Ricky-Jade Jones.

It didn’t work. Without Clarke-Harris to make life awkward for defenders Posh struggled to get up the pitch. It didn’t help that some dozy defending enabled Boro to double their lead three minutes after the re-start.

Matt Crooks clipped a neat cross into the Posh penalty area, but it should have been dealt with by Fernandez who inexplicably let the ball go to give Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun a tap-in.

And the game promptly withered and died. Boro strolled through the rest of the half accepting any number of soft free kicks and taking their time over all of them before springing back into life in the latter stages.

Boro added a third goal on 83 minutes through substitute Jos Coburn after another replacement Duncan Watmore had escaped behind a slumbering Posh backline.

And Watmore completed the scoring three minutes from time after robbing Fuchs and racing clear to deliver an emphatic finish.

The only cheers from the Posh fans in the second-half arrived when referee Leigh Doughty awarded the home side a free kick, something he’d appeared reluctant to do for a considerable amount of time.

Posh: Dai Cornell, Harrison Burrows, Frankie Kent, Emmanuel Fernandez (sub Kwame Poku, 63 mins), Josh Knight, Joe Ward, Jack Taylor (sub Jorge Grant, 63 mins), Jeando Fuchs, Samie Szmodics, Jonson Clarke-Harris (sub Ricky-Jade Jones, 46 mins), Jack Marriott.

Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Ronnie Edwards, Reece Brown, Bali Mumba.

Boro: Joe Lumley, Anfernee Dijksteel, Dael Fry, Marcus Tavernier, Jonny Howson, Paddy McNair, Matt Crooks, Marc Bola, Isaiah Jones (sub Lee Peltier, 85 mins), Aaron Connolly (sub Jos Coburn, 75 mins), Folarin Balogun (sub Duncan Watmore, 69 mins).

Unused subs: Luke Daniels, Andraz Sporar, Sol Bamba, Riley McGree.

Boro - Tavernier (27 mins), Balogun (48 mins), Coburn (83 mins), Watmore (87 mins)

Cautions: Posh - Kent (foul), Knight (foul).

Boro - Tavernier (delaying the restart).

Referee: Leigh Doughty 6.

Attendance: 11,757 (3,708 Boro).