REPORT: QPR 1, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 3: Posh enjoy a super Sunday afternoon as they climb off the bottom of the Championship

Peterborough United delivered a superb second-half display to win 3-1 at play-off chasing Queens Park Rangers and lift themselves off the bottom of the Championship table.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 20th March 2022, 2:49 pm
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United celebrates scoring the equalising goal against Queens Park Rangers.
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United celebrates scoring the equalising goal against Queens Park Rangers.

It was a first win in 16 Championship matches and a first of this spell in charge for manager Grant McCann as they completed a hat-trick of wins this season over their hosts. It was a first Football League win in 11 attempts at Loftus Road.

And ultimately it was deserved. Posh were defensively shakey and largely unthreatening for 40 minutes before in-form Jonson Clarke-Harris fired home an equaliser, but McCann’s men were electric after the break scoring twice in 150 seconds through Clarke-Harris - a penalty after a trip on Joe Ward - and Jack Marriott. Marriott’s screamer was a goal of the season contender and the strike pair have now scored seven goals in their last eight appearances combined.

A siege might have been expected, but it never came thanks to a performance of great discipline and organisation. Whether or not it’s arrived too late to save the season remains questionable, but at least the players and boss do not appear to have given up.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Marriott replaced injury victim Ricky-Jade Jones, while Jack Taylor started in place of Jeando Fuchs in midfield, presumably to give Posh more attacking impetus.

QPR escaped from a goalkeeper crisis by hiring veteran Kieran Westwood for the day. In some Posh away games this season the opposition could have fielded a cardboard cutout between the sticks and still kept a clean sheet.

It was win or bust for both teams really. Posh needed three points to delay relegation and to get off the bottom, while QPR had to come out on top to return to the play-off places.

Posh started the better as a Ward cross almost reached its intended target at the far post and Sammie Szmodics spoiled a 20-yard shooting chance with a weak sidefoot finish that Westwood saved comfortably.

But then the customary implosion arrived as Jack Taylor lost possession in the centre of the pitch and the Posh defence stood and watched Luke Amos stroll forward and sidefoot comfortably into the corner of the net.

Only nine minutes had passed and another long afternoon for a strong away following seemed likely. It probaby would have been had Albert Adomah made a better choice after dispossessing Bali Mumba and had Andre Gray not made a hash of a finish after Taylor had again lost possession. Ilias Chair also shot wide when well placed.

Posh looked like they would cause QPR some uncomfortable moments if they could just sharpen up their passing. Szmodics crashed a terrific left-footed half-volley against the top of the crossbar in the 21st minutes.

The hosts also struck the woodwork when Gray headed against a post six minutes before the break and within 60 seconds Posh had equalised. Marriott did well to keep possession beyond the home defence before unleashing a shot that Westwood could only parry into the danger area where Clarke-Harris was on hand to deliver a pacy, but controlled finish.

Chair immediately struck the post direct from a corner and Posh had to survive a couple of hairy moments before the interval.

Posh replaced Mumba, who had struggled throughout and picked up a caution, with Harrison Burrows at the break which at least gave the backline some balance.

And Burrows was soon in the thick of the action as a precision pass left Ward to run at big centre back Jimmy Dunne. He had too much skill and Dunne tripped him for an obvious penalty which Clarke-Harris despatched despite a fine effort from Westwood to keep it out.

And, remarkably, Posh stretched out to 3-1 within two minutes thanks a stunning goal of individual brilliance from Marriott who cut in from the left and flashed a superb shot into the opposite top corner. There were still 35 minutes to go though, but today it wouldn’t matter.

QPR responded with an immediate triple substitution and one of them Charlie Austin skied a half chance over the bar after a rare Josh Knight error.

But Posh returned to the ascendancy and Jack Taylor sent an overhead kick wide before Clarke-Harris stung the hands of Westwood with a 25-yard free kick.

And Posh also shored up defensively, so well in fact Dai Cornell was not forced into a single second-half save as crosses and shots failed to get anywhere near their intended destinations, or were interrupted by well-placed defenders.

Even with Clarke-Harris becoming a passenger for the final 15 minutes Posh defended stoutly with the three centre-backs all commanding, while substitutes Jeando Fuchs and Kwame Poku all joining Szmodics in pressing with great energy and determination. Posh then were granted a concussion substitute for Clarke-Harris (that may have been down to some game management) and cruised home

And Posh should have scored a fourth goal during eight minutes of added time when Poku send Szmodics through. He could have squared it to give fourth sub Joe Taylor a first professional goal, but instead he shot and Westwood saved.

It was a minor grumble on a super Sunday afternoon.

Posh: Dai Cornell, Bali Mumba (sub Harrison Burrows, 46 mins), Frankie Kent, Ronnie Edwards, Josh Knight, Joe Ward, Jack Taylor (sub Jeando Fuchs, 71 mins), Oliver Norburn, Sammie Szmodics, Jack Marriott (sub Kwame Poke, 76 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris (sub Joe Taylor, 90 + 2 mins).

Unused subs: Will Blackmore, Mark Beevers, Jorge Grant, Joe Taylor.

QPR: Kieren Westwood, Sam McCallum, Dion Sanderson, Rob Dickie, Jimmy Dunne, Albert Adomah, Andre Dozzell (sub Jeff Hendrick, 58 mins), Sam Field, Luke Amos (sub Charlie Austin, 57 mins) Ilias Chair, Andre Gray (sub George Thomas, 57 mins).

Unused subs: Murphy Mahoney, Yoann Barbet, Dominic Ball, Moses Odubajo.

Goals: Posh - Clarke-Harris (40 mins & pen 53 mins); Marriott (55 mins).

QPR - Amos (9 mins)

Cautions: Posh - Mumba (foul), Marriott (foul), Norburn (time wasting).

QPR - Field (foul).

Referee: David Webb 7

Attendance: 13,753 (787 Posh).