A first-half goal from Joe Ward and a superb finish from substitute Ricky-Jade Jones 20 minutes from time saw Posh to a 2-0 win over Championship high-fliers Queens Park Rangers at the Weston Homes Stadium.
Posh enjoyed the run of the ball at times, notably when Ilias Chair rattled the crossbar from a free-kick on the hour mark, but they also defended superbly against gifted opponents and took their chances when they arrived - not things regularly associated with this season, but hopefully a sign of better things to come.
QPR recorded 16 shots on goal, but could find no way past impressive loan ‘keeper Steven Benda, while Posh managed a 66% success rate with their shooting.
Posh left both deadline day signings Reece Brown and Hayden Coulson on the substitutes bench, but skipper Ollie Norburn returned and he retained the captain’s armband despite an unsuccessful attempt to leave the club on transfer deadline day.
Ward was a surprise inclusion at right wing-back as Posh made four changes to the side defeated by Sheffield United last weekend. Mark Beevers and Ronnie Edwards were back in defence after injury.
Posh were chasing a fifth round tie for just the fifth time in the club’s history - but more importantly they were seeking a confidence boost ahead of some huge Championship matches.
They certainly didn’t lack for commitment, particularly Norburn who did well to avoid a first-half caution, something Edwards and Jonson Clarke-Harris didn’t manage.
Conditions were far easy. The Posh playing surface is showing signs of wear and tear and a gusty wind didn’t help. QPR saw a lot of the ball, but threatened only from set-pieces before the break, while Posh displayed great efficiency, scoring from their only shot of the half and carrying that lead into the interval.
Ward was the scorer in the 25th minute, benefitting from Jack Marriott’s running, Kwame Poku’s skill in finding space to deliver a cross from the left wing and a pop at goal from Jeando Fuchs which was blocked into his path. Ward’s finish was cool.
The goal prompted a quicker QPR tempo. They almost equalised within 60 seconds when wing-back Moses Odubajo was left all alone at the far post, but Benda tipped his shot over the bar.
Corners also became an issue with QPR constantly winning the first contact, but a Posh body was always in the way of a follow-up. Frankie Kent was usually the man in the right place.
Charlie Austin volleyed a neat corner over the bar and Lyndon Dykes poked wide from eight yards after Dion Sanderson had knocked down a free kick.
Earlier Benda had dived full length to keep out a 25 yarder from Chair with the first shot of the game arriving in the 15th minute.
QPR made two substitutions at the break and one of them was Albert Adomah, who almost scored with his first touch as he arrived at the far post unchallenged to meet an excellent left wing cross. He shot first time and with power, but Benda pulled off a fine save.
Posh sent on Sammie Szmodics for Clarke-Harris at the break and introduced Brown and Coulson during the second-half. They were all good, but not as good as teenager Jones who scored within seven minutes of his entrance. Mumba’s pass was precise and Jones’ pace took him clear before his well-struck shot beat visiting ‘keeper David Marshall and found the corner of the net.
QPR lost their way after that and Posh maintained impressive discipline with the three centre-backs defending their box superbly. Jeando Fuchs and Norburn provided an excellent shield in front of them while Szmodics and Jones rushed defenders who all of a sudden didn’t look so composed on the ball.
QPR enjoyed 72% possession, but have bigger targets than a deep FA Cup run. That is also true of Posh, but this success was more necessary for Darren Ferguson’s side who needed the boost only winning can provide as they approach crunch February fixtures.
Posh: Steven Benda, Bali Mumba (sub Nathan Thompson, 90 + 2 mins), Ronnie Edwards, Frankie Kent, Mark Beevers, Joe Ward (sub Hayden Coulson, 65 mins), Oliver Norburn, Jeando Fuchs, Kwame Poku (sub Reece Brown, 60 mins), Jack Marriott (sub Ricky-Jade Jones, 65 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris (sub Sammie Szmodics, 46 mins).
Unused substitutes: Dai Cornell, Nathan Thompson, Jorge Grant, Josh Knight, Joel Randall.
QPR: David Marshall, Moses Odubajo, Dian Sanderson, Rob Dickie, Jimmy Dunne, Lee Wallace (sub Albert Adomah, 46 mins), Stefan Johansen (sub Andre Dozzell, 62 mins), Luke Amos (sub Jeff Hendrick, 46 mins), Ilias Chair (sub George Thomas, 62 mins, Charlie Austin, Lyndon Dykes.
Unused substitutes: Joe Walsh, Osman Kakay, Yoann Barbet, Dominic Ball, George Thomas.
Posh - Ward (25 mins), Jones (72 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Clarke-Harris (foul), Edwards (foul), Fuchs (foul), Jones (foul), Norburn (dissent), Thompson (time wasting).
QPR - Jimmy Dunne (dissent), Dozzell (foul).
Referee: David Webb 5.
Attendance: 10,119 (3,790, QPR).