REPORT: PETERBOROUGH UNITED 3, BIRMINGHAM CITY 0: Posh bounce back to form with a brilliant display against the outclassed Blues
Peterborough United delivered a stunning display to beat Birmingham City 3-0 in the Championship at the Weston Homes Stadium today (September 18).
Indeed Posh outclassed their visitors with a superb exhibition of passing football. They showed bravery on the ball, precision with their execution, and outstanding decision-making.
It was a tactical masterclass from Darren Ferguson on the day he broke the club record for Posh games managed. The only tinge of disappointment was a failure to escape the relegation zone thanks to a late equaliser from Swansea City at Luton.
But that’s a concern for another day. Derby’s impending points deduction will get Posh out of the bottom three before they play again.
Siriki Dembele was named man-of-the-match after having a hand in all three goals, but he wasn’t alone in performing to such a high standard.
There was a shock before the game, although not for keen students of social media who had predicted goalkeeper Christy Pym would not be involved, although not for the official explanation of an illness.
On-loan West Ham midfielder Conor Coventry was dropped to the bench to allow for Jack Taylor to make his first start of the season.
As expected the Blues handed a first start to deadline day signing Troy Deeney.
Posh started with a flat back four which again included teenager Ronnie Edwards, but few would have envisaged such a fast start from a team who had lost their four previous matches.
Inside the first minute Dan Butler accepted a pass, advanced 30 yards without a challenge and slipped a lovely pass inside a defender for Dembele. Dembele’s first-time cross was obligingly turned into his own net by retreating City defender Harlee Dean. There was 58 seconds on the PT clock.
And the confidence boost from such an early goal stayed with the side for the entire half. They played some terrific football through the thirds with moves, often started at the back by the imperious Ronnie Edwards, travelling the length of the field before ending with a shot at goal of a set-piece.
Birmingham’s cumbersome defence was shown up by Fulham’s fluency going forward in their last outing and Posh found joy in well-timed passes and runs behind a high line.
Jorge Grant and Dembele shot over the bar when well placed and the latter saw another 18 yarder deflected wide. A lovely pass from Grant freed Taylor into the visiting area, but, although he took the ball round the goalkeeper, he was pushed too wide to even get a shot away.
But Dembele’s neat pass soon sent Grant scurrying away 10 minutes before the break when time seemed to stop still. Grant delayed and delayed, and perhaps fortunately for him, Ryan Woods arrived to bring him down for a Posh penalty which Clarke-Harris slotted home with ease.
But the big striker should have made it 3-0 soon afterwards again after a Dembele flick. Surprisingly Clarke-Harris tried to pass to the unmarked Joe Ward, but managed only to clip the ball against his own foot.
Birmingham finished the half strongly, but Lukas Jutkiewick got in the way of a Tahith Chong opportunity.
Deeney headed his only chance over the bar in the early stages.
Birmingham made two substitutions at the break, sensibly adding pace to the back with Dion Sanderson and an extra midfielder in Ivan Sunjic.
And Cornell had to make a crucial save at the start of the second-half as Woods barged through the Posh backline. How crucial was evident two minutes later when Posh claimed a third goal.
Dembele was allowed to run with the ball for far too long. He brushed through two tackles, reached the penalty area and squared for Grant who passed the ball into the net from 18 yards in the 50th minute for his first Posh goal.
Birmingham kept pressing and they tried to deny space in midfield, but Gary Gardner took the physicality too far with a horrible lunge on Nathan Thompson which led to a red card midway through the second-half
The half chances did occasionally come the way of the visitors with substitute Chuks Aneke glancing a header wide and then prodding a far post cross just past a post.
But Posh continued to pass their way out of trouble and they played some fantastic keepball to round off what must be one of the club’s best-ever all-round Championship displays.
And while there was much speculation about Pym’s absence from the squad it became moot when Cornell made an impressive save at the death from Deeney.
Posh: Dai Cornell, Dan Butler, Ronnie Edwards, Frankie Kent, Nathan Thompson, Oliver Norburn, Jack Taylor (sub Conor Coventry, 72 mins), Jorge Grant (sub Harrison Burrows, 82 mins), Joe Ward, Siriki Dembele (sub Sammie Szmodics, 82 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Unused Subs: Will Blackmore, Josh Knight, Idris Kanu, Joe Tomlinson
Birmingham: Matija Sarkic, Maxime Colin, Marc Roberts (sub Dion Sanderson, 46 mins), Harlee Dean, Kristian Pedersen, Jeremie Bela (sub Ivan Sunjic, 46 mins), Ryan Woods, Gary Gardner, Tahith Chong, Lukas Jutkewicz (sub Chiks Aneke, 58 mins), Troy Deeney.
Unused subs: Connall Trueman, George Friend, Riley McGree, Scott Hogan.
Goals: Posh - Dean, (og 1 min), Clarke-Harris (35, pen), Grant (50 mins)
Sending off: Birmingham - Gardner (serious foul play).
Cautions: Posh - Kent (foul), Butler (foul).
Birmingham - Woods (foul), Aneke (foul).
Referee: Jarred Gillett 8