REPORT: Peterborough United 1 Sunderland 1: A disappointing draw, but a far from disastrous outcome
A good Easter Monday for Hull City then. The Tigers beat the Cobblers 3-0 while their closest rivals Peterborough United and Sunderland fought out a 1-1 draw at the Weston Homes Stadium.
The draw is far from disastrous for either team, but Posh should be the more disappointed. Siriki Dembele, 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute, gave them the lead with a smart finish following superb play from Nathan Thompson in the 66th minute and they had the chances to score again.
But sloppy play from star midfielder Jack Taylor gave Aiden McGeady the chance to show his class from a 20-yard free kick nine minutes from time. He probably didn’t need the room afforded him by Posh goalkeeper Christy Pym who was struggling with a bad back
Sunderland then finished the game the stronger, but a draw was probably a fair result. Posh created the better chances, but Sunderland enjoyed plenty of possession. They almost nicked the game when Posh centre-backs Mark Beevers and Frankie Kent diverted a cross onto their own post.
As expected Taylor returned to the Posh starting line-up, but teenager Harrison Burrows kept Dembele on the substitutes’ bench.
Sunderland made three changes from the side that beat Oxford on Good Friday. They started big Ross Stewart up front alongside big Charlie Wyke which was an indication of how the visitors were going to play. Gifted wingers McGeady and Jordan Jones were to be the men to supply the crosses, which might be one reason the extra defensive capabilities of Burrows over Dembele were to be employed.
Posh started passively. They were content to let Sunderland have the ball, presumably in the hope of winning possession and utilising the pace of Joe Ward on the break.
The visitors were first to threaten though when the big two strikers combined before Wyke’s deflected shot whistled past a post.
Referee Craig Hicks then surprisingly allowed play to continue in the Posh penalty area with Nathan Thompson down clutching his head. McGeady’s shot was well blocked by Frankie Kent with a follow-up cross from Stewert cleared.
Set-pieces were always likely to be a problem for Posh, but they defended them well and slowly started to creep into the contest.
Louis Reed delivered the first shot on target in the 27th minute, but it lacked the power or the accuracy to trouble Sunderland ‘keeper Lee Burge.
On 31 minutes Taylor’s long pass freed Ward, but Burge just beat him to the ball and three minutes later Ward’s neat chip found Szmodics, but his shot was well blocked by O’Nien.
On 42 minutes a fine first-time cross from Harrison Burrows was diverted towards his own goal by O’Nien, but Burge saved well.
Posh suffered through a lack of forward mobility, but they had created the better opportunities to give them hope for the second half.
Szmodics volleyed wildly over the crossbar soon after the re-start before a fierce strike from Wyke was pushed behind by Pym.
McGeady was given his first set-piece opportunity just before the hour mark, but shot wide and then Posh enjoyed a purple patch helped by the introduction of Dembele and Reece Brown for Burrows and Reed.
Szmodics missed a great chance to give Posh the lead after advancing onto Ward’s fine pass, but the changes soon paid dividends as Thompson’s superb run and pass enabled Dembele to shoot first time past Burge.
Clarke-Harris then made a strong run which ended with a low drive that O’Nien appeared to save with his arm. Posh boss Darren Ferguson was adamant it should have led to a penalty, but this wasn’t a well-officiated game.
Szmodics then had a chance to kill the game after Brown sent him clear, but Burge again made the save.
Taylor’s decision to take a touch and turn just yards outside his area eventually proved fateful. He was robbed and then committed a clear foul leaving a struggling ‘keeper exposed to the quality of McGeady.
Posh offered very little apart excellent defence after Sunderland had equalised, but there is still all to play for in the final month of the season.
Posh: Christy Pym, Dan Butler (sub Niall Mason 63 mins), Mark Beevers, Frankie Kent, Nathan Thompson, Jack Taylor, Louis Reed (sub Reece Brown, 56 mins), Joe Ward, Harrison Burrows (sub Siriki Dembele, 56 mins), Sammie Szmodics (sub Mo Eisa, 86 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Unused subs: Dan Gyollai, Ricky-Jade Jones, Ethan Hamilton.
Sunderland: Lee Burge, Dion Sanderson, Carl Winchester (sub Josh Scowen, 80 mins), Luke O’Nein, Callum McFadzean (sub Aiden O’Brien 71 mins), Max Power, Grant Leadbitter (sub Connor McLaughlin, 71 mins), Jordan Jones (sub Lyndon Gooch, 70 mins), Aiden McGeady, Ross Stewart (Denver Hume, 71 mins), Charlie Wyke.
Unused subs: Remi Matthews, Josh Scowen, Jack Diamond.
Goals: Posh - Dembele (66 mins).
Sunderland - McGeady (81 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Reed (foul), Butler (foul).
Referee: Craig Hicks 5.