REPORT: PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2, SWANSEA CITY 3: A game of the proverbial two halves, but the result was predictable
For nine glorious minutes Peterborough United were off the bottom of the Championship table tonight (March 16).
After a horribly passive, negative first-half left Posh a goal down at the break, it seemed to dawn on the management and players that the club’s future was rather bleak.
The second-half was a revelation. Posh became aggressive, they left players up the pitch and harassed a ropey defence to distraction. They scored twice in 10 minutes through Sammie Szmodics and Jack Marriott to deliver dreams of an unlikely escape from relegation, but two fortunate ricochets left Swansea celebrating three points at the end.
A close range header cannoned into a post, but rebounded sideways straight into the path of Michael Obafemi who claimed his second goal of the game in the 72nd minute and just nine minutes after substitute Marriott had netted with his first touch after some comedy Swansea defending.
And in the first minute of seven added on at the end of the game a weak left footed shot from Cyrus Christie struck one of his own players with the ball falling kindly for top scorer Joel Piroe to finish.
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It wasn’t a complete hard luck story. Swansea deserved to win as they created far more chances in either half and Posh ‘keeper Dai Cornell made some strong saves, whereas Grant McCann’s men registered just five shots on goal all game.
They weren’t helped when Ricky-Jade Jones, who was a constant menace in his time on the pitch, was forced off the pitch with a serious looking shoulder injury. Posh were rendered impotent with his departure and that of Szmodics who had a hand in two goals before he was replaced with his side a goal up.
Posh made three changes to their Saturday starting line-up with Bali Mumba, Szmodics and Jones replacing Harrison Burrows, Jack Taylor and Marriott.
The contest survived two pre-match pitch inspections after heavy rainfall in the city all afternoon. Both managers were keen to start and understandably so. Posh really needed to win to keep the gap to safety manageable, while Swansea were keen to end a two-game losing run and a team with no wins in 14 League games would appear to be ideal opponents.
And so it proved. Posh set up so negatively and seemingly so scared of Swansea’s passing skills they just surrendered territory, while trying to catch the visitors on the break. They had moments down the flanks through Jones, Szmodics and Joe Ward and even Josh Knight, but they managed no shots on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Swansea had plenty. And several off target as well. Obafemi missed a sitter from a Piroe cutback and also forced Cornell into a smart save, as did Piroe towards the end of the half.
And just when Posh looked likely to reach the break on level terms they conceded. One pass between Frankie Kent and Mumba freed Obafemi whose poor touch looked to have ruined the opportunity, but he somehow sneaked the ball through Cornell at his near post.
Kent had earlier blocked a Korey Smith shot after he’d given the ball away himself.
Posh had just one attempt at goal in the opening 45 minutes when Szmodics headed over a Ward cross in the sixth minute. It was a difficult opportunity, but Posh never came that close again before the break.
The second-half was a different story as Posh pressed relentlessly.
Jones had a half chance at the far post from a Ward free kick before Jones skinned his man on the outside and pulled back for Szmodics to convert from close range seven minutes after the restart.
Jones then left, but Marriott’s impact was immediate. Szmodics took the ball into the penalty area, but the danger had passed until Kyle Naughton inexplicably passed the ball to Marriott who poked home for 2-1.
But Posh now had no out-ball without the pace of Jones and they felt they could also do without Szomdics’ energy. Swansea started to see a lot of the ball again and Posh never really threatened to keep them out.
Cornell had made a superb stop to deny Hannes Wolf at 1-1, but he was powerless to stop the equaliser. Cornell then saved well again from Paterson in the 90th minute, but he was soon picking the ball out of his net again.
Posh rallied impressively and slung a few balls into the Swansea area, but they were repelled even by this suspect defence.
It was easy to admire the passion and commitment of the second-half, but it also emphasised howe feeble the first-half had been.
Posh: Dai Cornell, Bali Mumba, Frankie Kent, Josh Knight, Ronnie Edwards, Joe Ward, Jeando Fuchs, Oliver Norburn, Sammie Szmodics (sub Jack Taylor, 67 mins), Ricky-Jade Jones (sub Jack Marriott, 63 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris (sub Joe Taylor, 77 mins).
Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Mark Beevers, Jorge Grant, Harrison Burrows.
Swansea: Andy Fisher, Korey Smith (sub Oliver Ntcham, 67 mins), Ben Cabango, Kyle Naughton, Cyrus Christie Flynn Downes, Matt Grimes, Hannes Wolf, Jamie Paterson (sub Jay Fulton,90 + 4 mins), Joel Piroe, Michael Obafemi (sub Kyle Joseph, 80 mins).
Unused subs: Ben Hamer, Finley Burns, Nathan Ogbeta, Cameron Congreve.
Goals: Posh - Szmodics (52 mins), Marriott (63 mins).
Swansea - Obafemi (44 mins & 72 mins), Piroe (90 + 1 mins).
Cautions Posh - Knight (aggressive attitude)
Swansea - Christie (foul), Wolf (aggressive attitude), Cabango (foul), Naughton (foul), Piroe (foul).
Referee: Oliver Langford 6
Attendance: To follow.