WALSALL 3, PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0: Embarrassing setback for Posh who are well beaten
Peterborough United’s hopes of reaching the League One play-offs suffered an embarrassing setback at relegation-haunted Walsall today (April 27).
Posh went down 3-0 at the Banks’s Stadium leaving them requiring an unlikely win at Portsmouth to retain an interest in the top six here.
Needless to say they will have to play considerably better than this to avoid another drubbing.
Before the game Posh manager Darren Ferguson warned his players they would have to match Walsall’s workrate before hoping their, alleged, superior ability would shine through.
Clearly the message never got through. Walsall were well worth their margin of victory here, one that gives them hope of extending their stay in the third tier to a 13th season.
Posh remained unchanged for their latest ‘must-win’ game even though they didn’t win either of the previous two.
Ferguson resisted the temptation to reunite strikers Ivan Toney and Matt Godden and to recall Lee Tomlin. Central defender Ryan Tafazolli was left out of the matchday squad despite pre-match reports of a return to fitness.
Walsall also needed to win to take their relegation fight into the final weekend of the season.
Conditions were tough for both sides though. The wind was howling, the pitch was uneven and the grass was long, but after a reasonable Posh start the home side adapted much the better before the break.
Maddison tested home ‘keeper Chris Dunn from distance in the early stages, but Posh then disappeared as an attacking force, a situation not helped by the early departure of George Cooper because of injury.
Toney was sent on, but Posh couldn’t get the ball up to him and Godden which doubtless helped improve the confidence of Walsall.
One swift home break led to a glorious 24th-minute chance for Josh Gordon who swept his shot wide from eight yards, but pressure eventually told in first-half added time.
Louis Reed did well to block an initial shot, but the ball was picked up on the left by Scott Laird and he had all the time in the world to pick out Andy Cook unmarked at the far post. The big striker made no mistake,
Walsall still had time to create another opening before the interval after Josh Knight lost possession on the halfway line. Fortunately for Posh a two-on-two was wasted by a poor shot from Liam Kinsella.
It didn’t get any better after the break with a 60-second spell just before the hour mark epitomising Posh’s problems against struggling sides this season.
First Toney sent Godden racing away, but the striker lacked the pace to even get a shot in as Luke Leahy recovered to tackle.
And when the ball was transferred to the other end Rhys Bennett was caught in possession, Gordon wriggled into the area and his cross was helped over the line by the back-pedalling Lafferty.
Lafferty was then beaten too easily by Nicky Devlin who chipped over Chapman and over the bar before the left-back was hauled off for Lee Tomlin with 25 minutes to go.
Posh switched to three at the back for the final quarter with Maddison and Joe Ward as wingbacks.
But there was no obvious improvement. Walsall maintained their threat while Posh, with Maddison having an off day, offered nothing.
A third goal seemed inevitable and duly arrived 15 minutes from time when Cook barged his way down the right wing and squared for Gordon to finish.
Posh huffed and puffed for the rest of the game without creating a chance. It was that sort of afternoon.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Daniel Lafferty (sub Lee Tomlin, 65 mins), Josh Knight, Rhys Bennett, Alex Woodyard, Louis Reed, Siriki Dembele (sub Joe Ward, 58 mins), George Cooper (sub Ivan Toney, 24 mins), Marcus Maddison, Matt Godden.
Unused substitites: Conor O’Malley, Callum Cooke, Mathew Stevens, Ben White.
Walsall: Chris Dunn, Joe Edwards (sub Isiaih Osbourne, 82 mins), Luke Leahy, George Dobson, Nicky Devlin, Liam Kinsella, Connor Johnson, Dan Scarr (sub jon Guthrie, 63 mins), Scott Laird, Josh Gordon, Andy Cook (sub Aramide Oteh, 90 + 3 mins).
Unused substitutes: Liam Roberts, Zeli Ismail, Jack Fitzwater, Cameron Norman.
Walsall - Cook (45 + 2 mins), Lafferty (58 mins, og), Gordon (74 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Woodyard (foul).
Walsall - Dobson (foul).
Referee: Martin Coy 7
Attendance: 5,400 (1,585 Posh).