REPORT: READING 3, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 1: Familiar failings haunt poor Posh as they slip to a fourth straight away defeat
This should hurt Peterborough United more than Saturday’s hammering at Sheffield United.
Posh probably won’t play a team in such favourable circumstances again. Reading are ravaged by injuries and low on confidence and looked vulnerable for an hour. Yet they ran out 3-1 winners tonight (September 14) as the common Posh failings of individual errors and mental weakness when faced with adversity surfaced in horrible fashion.
Posh looked the more likely to score in the opening stages of the second-half. Their passing was still too slow and ponderous and they failed to find a killer pass, but they penned the hosts back without winning a break in the box.
But then it fell apart. A woeful pass inside his own half from Jonson Clarke-Harris was compounded by his unnecessary foul. In-form John Swift curled home and within three minutes Tom Dele-Bashiru had added a second just as regular Posh watchers knew would happen.
Posh rallied and pulled a goal back through defender Nathan Thompson’s header, but they never came close again. Instead Dele-Bashiru added gloss to the final scoreline with a thumping 25 yarder strike, that took a healthy deflection off a diving Jack Taylor,to complete four away defeats in a row for Darren Ferguson’s side.
The team news brought a surprise as teenage defender Ronnie Edwards was handed his first Championship start as Darren Ferguson reacted to shipping six goals at Sheffield United on Saturday. Ferguson also changed shape to a very positive 4-4-2 formation with the intention of heaping more agony on the worst defence in the division. Clarke-Harris was brought back to partner Jack Marriott with Sammie Szmodics the man to drop down to the substitutes’ bench.
Reading were ravaged by injury, the latest to Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael who apparently broke his hand thumping an advertising hoarding after conceding a last-gasp equaliser at the weekend. That meant a second Championship start for back-up number one Luke Southwood and a substitutes’ bench that comprised four 18 year-olds, a 17-year old, a 21-year old and Junior Hoilett.
A great chance for Posh to get off the mark away from home then? Well yes and no. Reading matched Posh for nervousness in the opening half, but Southwood turned into the home side’s saviour.
He did well to push Siriki Dembele’s 20-yarder wide midway through the half and then produced a brilliant fingertip save to divert Oliver Norburn’s terrific 20-yard volley over the crossbar just before the break.
They were rare highlights in a cagey first period which showcased the composed talents of Edwards and some fine defensive midfield work from Conor Coventry and Norburn. Stringing passes together in advanced positions was more of a problem.
Reading were little better. An early shot from Dele-Bashiru and a late one from Josh Laurent, both hit far too straight, were the only reasons Posh ‘keeper Christy Pym kept warm.
Centre-back Liam Moore added to Reading’s injury woes by limping off in added time after tangling with Marriott.
Posh started the second-half brightly, but played at too slow a tempo and couldn’t find the killer pass.
And then it unravelled as it has so often this season. Clarke-Harris’s blunder got Reading up and running.
And three minutes later easy progress down the right was followed by a cross which found Dele-Bashiru free on the edge of his own area and allowed him to get the shot away that ended up in the back of the net.
Confidence visibly sucked out of Posh. Reading started finding space and Frankie Kent needed to block one fierce shot, but then Posh found a lifeline.
Dembele was fouled on the edge of the area and Joe Ward’s deep free-kick was headed home at the far post by Thompson 15 minutes from time.
Posh lost Marriott to an apparent hamstring injury a few minutes later and this was followed by Clarke-Harris wasting a good headed chance, when he could plant wide Butler’s well placed cross around the edge of the six-yard box.
Reading then cleared a couple of crosses with ease before Dele-Bashiru was given all the time he required to blast home a brilliant third goal.
Posh: Christy Pym, Dan Butler (sub Joe Tomlinson, 86 mins), Frankie Kent, Ronnie Edwards, Nathan Thompson, Siriki Dembele, Conor Coventry (sub Jack Taylor, 65 mins), Oliver Norburn, Joe Ward, Jack Marriott (sub Sammie Szmodics, 81 mins), Jonson Clarke-Harris
Unused subs: Dai Cornell, Josh Knight, Jorge Grant, Kwame Poku.
Reading: Luke Southwood, Andy Yiadom, Baba Rahman, Liam Moore (sub Thomas Holmes, 45 mins), Michael Morrison, Josh Laurent, Tom Dele-Bashiru, Ovie Ejaria (sub Dejan Tetek, 88 mins, John Swift, Alen Halilovic (sub Junior Hoilett, 65 mins), George Puscas.
Unused subs: Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Manadi Camara, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan, Jahmari Clarke.
Goals: Posh - Thompson (75 mins).
Reading - Swift (64 mins), Dele-Bashiri (67 mins & 89 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Kent (foul).
Reading - none.
Referee: Tim Robinson 7