Ivan Toney claimed a second hat-trick in under three weeks as Peterborough United bounced back to their very best form with an emphatic 4-0 win at Accrington Stanley today (December 29).
It was a stunning riposte after some poor displays by Steve Evans’ men. Central defender Rhys Bennett also scored as Posh moved back up to fifth.
Toney hadn’t scored a professional hat-trick before the FA Cup win at Bradford City earlier this month. He netted with two close range headers and a shot into an empty net after a goalkeeping blunder at the Wham Stadium. He now has 16 goals to his name this season.
Posh made three changes to their starting line-up and playing Siriki Dembele up top alongside Toney and it all worked a treat from kick off.
Both forwards pressed high and hard and it should have have led to a goal after 80 seconds when Toney robbed Mark Hughes and slipped the ball to Joe Ward who somehow missed the target when all alone close to goal.
Dembele saw a shot well saved after beating a defender before he was fouled in a wide position in the 19th minute. Marcus Maddison delivered the perfect set-piece for Toney to head home.
Accrington looked a threat when managing to keep the ball. Jordan Clark missed a great chance after Posh ‘keeper Conor O’Malley palmed a shot into his path and the same player missed the target after ghosting between the Posh central defenders.
But Posh always looked the more dangerous and extended their lead four minutes before the break when a hopeful punt forward from Louis Reed found Toney behind the home defence. The ball took an age to come down, but Toney kept his composure as goalkeeper Conor Ripley dashed from his goalline and missed his kick leaving the Posh striker with a simple tap in.
Ripley made amends within 60 seconds with a stunning save after Toney again found himself clear behind the home back four. The new Posh top scorer struck a bouncing ball beautifully, but Ripley pushed it one-handed onto the crossbar.
Accrington made an early change in the second-half and it almost paid immediate dividends as substitute Offrande Zanzala found space in the area. O’Malley saved and Ryan Tafazolli was on hand to to clear up.
Posh set up to play on the counter attack and almost claimed a third goal in the 55th minute when a rapid break by Dembele, Jason Naismith and Maddison saw Woodyard receive the ball on the edge of the area. Unfortunately the Posh skipper shot rather than pass to the unmarked Ward and Ripley saved easily.
And end-to-end passage of play followed with Toney making a terrific tackle on Clark as he prepared to pull the trigger and Reed racing back to block a Kee shot.
Good work from Dembele and Ward presented Toney with a hat-trick chance, but he just failed to keep the ball down from close range.
Dembele again impressed when winning a free kick midway through the second-half just outside the area and wide. Maddison again took it and smashed a surpise shot against the crossbar enabling Bennett to stoop and head home from close range for 3-0.
And Posh rounded off another convincing away win when Toney anticipated a back-header from Hughes to nod firmly past Ripley five minutes from time.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Jason Naismith, Tyler Denton, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Louis Reed, Joe Ward, Siriki Dembele (sub Matt Godden, 83 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Mark O’Hara, 87 mins), Ivan Toney (sub Jason Cummings, 90 + 3 mins).
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Darren Lyon, George Cooper, Matt Stevens.
Accrington: Connor Ripley, Callum Johnson, Mark Hughes, Michael Ihiekwe, Sam Finley, Nick Anderton, Dan Barlaster, Seamus Conneely (sub Offrande Zanzala, 51 mins), Jordan Clark, Sean McConville (sub Erico Sousa, 81 mins), Billy Kee (sub Connor Hall, 76 mins).
Unused substitutes: Jonny Maxted, Ben Richards-Everton, Scott Brown, Ross Sykes.
Goals: Posh - Toney (19 mins, 41 mins & 85 mins), Bennett (67 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Maddison (foul).
Accrington - Hughes (foul).
Referee: Thomas Bramall 7
Attendance: 2,672 (441 Posh)