Peterborough United eased into the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy thanks to a three-goal burst in 10 second-half minutes against Chelsea Under 21s at Stamford Bridge tonight (January 9).
Posh trailed at half-time to a 45th header from a corner, but goals from Siriki Dembele, Ivan Toney and Marcus Maddison between the 65th and 74th minutes delivered a deserved win for Steve Evans’ side against a disappointing Chelsea side.
All the goals arrived after returning hero Lee Tomlin had been substituted at half-time, but the 29 year-old showed enough glimpses of quality to suggest a fruitful second coming.
Naturally all Posh eyes were on Tomlin who played the opening 45 minutes before making way for George Cooper.
Understandably he wasn’t at his sharpest, but he still managed to get involved on most of the Posh attacks before the break.
Posh fielded Tomlin as one of three forward-thinking players behind sole striker Ivan Toney. Wingers Siriki Dembele and Marcus Maddison should suit Tomlin’s style, although most Posh moves in the first half broke down near the home penalty area.
Tomlin shot high and wide from 20 yards on a couple of occasions, struck a free kick from a similar distance into the wall and linked up promisingly with Maddison in particular.
There were also flashes of Tomlin’s temper. He flicked a hand into the face of George McEachran and felled Richard Nartey late, but referee John Busby ignored both offences.
And there were flashes of frustration also when he dropped deep and didn’t receive the ball. His integration into this team might take a while to complete, but his presence is bound to encourage a more possession-based style of play.
Before the break Chelsea only posed a threat down the left wing as Juan Castillo gave Joe Ward’s defensive skills a thorough workout, but a disappointing first half for the home side was saved by a 45th minute header from Nartey from a corner. The centre-back was left unmarked to head home from close range.
Posh centre-back Ryan Tafazolli had more difficult opportunity from a corner in the early stages, but he must have been frustrated not to hit the target.
Cooper should have made an instant impact after Ward found him unmarked 16 yards from goal, but the substitute shot wide.
Posh enjoyed lots of possession in the second half with Maddison and Cooke shooting wide, before Dembele was denied a goal by a desperate defensive block after latching onto a deep cross.
But Dembele was not to be denied for long. The winger accepted a pass wide on the left, jinked inside two defenders before finding the corner of the net from 16 yards in the 65th minute.
Cooper almost gave Posh the lead five minutes later after meeting Toney’s knockdown with a volley that Chelsea ‘keeper Jamie Cumming saved.
But Posh continued to press and took a deserved lead in the 72nd minute when Toney stretched to reach a fine right-footed cross from the right wing by Maddison and poked the ball past Cummings.
And it became three goals in 10 minutes when Posh broke out of defence impressively with Callum Cooke setting Maddison away with a fine pass. Maddison cut inside his marker and finished expertly.
Chelsea did rally late on with Conor Gallagher hitting the bar after a superb chip over Chapman.
Maddison should have scored again late on, but his weak chip was easily saved.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Joe Ward, Danial Lafferty (sub Tyler Denton, 87 mins), Jason Naismith, Ryan Tafazolli, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke, Marcus Maddison (sub Matt Godden, 89 mins), Lee Tomlin (sub George Cooper, 46 mins), Siriki Dembele, Ivan Toney.
Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Darren Lyon, Rhys Bennett, Matt Stevens.
Chelsea Under 21s: Jamie Cumming, Ike Ugbo (sub Charlie Brown, 85 mins), Joshua Grant, Joseph Colley, Richard Nartey, Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi, Juan Costillo, George McEachran (sub, Daishwan Lavinier, 75 mins), Martell Taylor-Crossdale (sub Tino Anjorin, 62 mins), Billy Gilmour.
Unused substitutes: Karlo Ziger, Ian Maatsen, Clinton Mola.
Goals: Chelsea - Nartey (45 mins).
Posh - Dembele (65 mins), Toney (72 mins), Cooke (74 mins).
Cautions: Chelsea - Gilmour (foul).
Posh - Reed (foul).
Referee: John Busby 7
Attendance: 2,671 (456 Posh).