League 1 report: There was a ‘weather bomb’ at Brisbane Road today (December 13), a gale-force gust of wind caused by a collective sigh of relief as Peterborough United won a League One match for the first time since October 18.
Since Barnsley were beaten 2-1 at London Road on that distant day, Lewis Hamilton has won three Grand Prix and a world title, while Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 14 goals. Lionel Messi has also scored 14 times in that period, but there’s a chance few were as sublime as the one converted by the little Turkish midfielder who shares his name (in nick-name form at least) for Posh in their win at Leyton Orient.
Two minutes into the second-half Erhun Oztumer - aka ‘The Turkish Messi’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘titch’ - curled a delightful free-kick over the Orient defensive wall from 20 yards or so and into the corner of the net. It was a wonderful piece of skill for a gifted little playmaker on his full Football League debut and the fact that it turned out to be a winning goal just emphasised how special a moment it was.
And not just for Oztumer. The most grateful man in East London might well have been Posh boss Darren Ferguson who could enjoy a post-match press conference that didn’t involve the words ‘P45’ or ‘job centre’ for once.
To be fair to Ferguson he has acted with decent dignity while the pressure has been on. He’s protected his players, fronted-up to the media and accepted his mistakes, well most of them anyway.
And, sensibly, he didn’t exactly dance a jig of delight when the final whistle blew at Brisbane Road after six minutes of added time - he left that to the Posh travelling support who had been in splendid voice throughout. Posh played much better here. They displayed great commitment and dug in when needed, but they were also playing an Orient side who can’t win at home and who had four senior strikers sidelined for various reasons.
Posh also required two goal-line blocks by left-back Kgosi Ntlhe, one at each end of the contest, before the three points were secured, but then to deny Ferguson some good fortune after the injury mountain he has experienced this season would be churlish indeed.
“The Sunday morning coffee will taste better,” was Ferguson’s only admission of relief during his media duties. It’s a fair bet that feet will remain on the ground in the Posh camp, although confidence levels will naturally rise after two quality goals and some impressive defensive backbone were displayed.
Orient, League One play-off finallists just seven months ago, are a team in crisis. Their fourth manager of the season started his job today and after this result he might be advised not to unpack too many personal effects as ‘the Os’ are now in the relegation zone.
Fanio Liverani clearly inspired his team to start well as Posh barely had a touch of the ball in a hectic opening, but Ntlhe stopped a Dean Cox strike on the line after Jobi McAnuff had skinned right-back Michael Bostwick in the second minute and centre-backs Christian Burgess and Gaby Zakuani intercepted a dangerous cross apiece.
And then, in the ninth minute, Posh struck. Full debutant Harry Beautyman, who delivered a display of terrific promise, set Craig Mackail-Smith away and his pass to Joe Newell was followed by an excellent cross that Aaron Mclean volleyed home from close range.
Two sides struggling for form did deliver an entertaining contest. Former Posh substitute Shaun Batt led the Orient line pretty well, while Oztumer’s prompting was complemented well by the graft of Beautyman, Mclean and Mackail-Smith, as well as the occasional flashes of class from Joe Newell.
Goal-scoring chances weren’t created though and it was the home side who struck when an attempt by Burgess to intercept a Cox cross failed and Batt swivelled to finish well on his left-foot six minutes before the break. “He didn’t do that too often for us,” Ferguson moaned. “I’ll be having a word with him.”
Batt actually played well and it was a surprise when he was withdrawn 15 minutes after Oztumer’s match-winning goal. Substitute Jay Simpson could make no impression on a Posh defence that saw out the game pretty comfortably until the last kick of the game.
Newell’s mis-timed tackle in the 96th minute led to an unfortunate red card (his first yellow card had been soft) and a last chance for Orient to load up the box. The home side won the first header, Posh ‘keeper Ben Alnwick couldn’t grasp the ball and it looked odds on an equaliser for Simpson, but he somehow couldn’t force the ball past Ntlhe.
And that was that. Alwnick’s sole second-half role had been to kick away a, presumably, swerving, 25 yard shot from Nathan Clarke. Posh might have scored again when Beautyman was taken by surprise by a fumble from Orient ‘keeper Adam Legzdins and volleyed wide of an open goal just before the break.
Thanks to the genius of Oztumer and some stout defending it wasn’t a miss that mattered.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Bostwick, Kgosi Nthle, Gaby Zakuani, Christian Burgess, Jack Payne, Harry Beautyman (sub Jermaine Anderson, 85 mins), Joe Newell, Erhun Oztumer, Craig Mackail-Smith, Aaron Mclean. Unused substitutes: Joe Day, Kyle Vassell, Conor Washington, Kuke James, Michael Smith, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
Leyton Orient: Adam Legzdins, Scott Cuthbert, Nathan Clarke, Shane Lowry, Gary Sawyer, Romain Vincelot, Dean Cox, Jobi McAnuff (sub Ayomide Adeboyejo, 84 mins), Josh Wright, Bradley Pritchard. Shaun Batt (sub Jay Simpson, 63 mins). Unsued substitutes: Mathieu Baudry, Harry Lee, Elliot Omozusi, Scott Kashket, Jay Simpson, Gary Woods,
Goals: Posh - Mclean (9 mins), Oztumer (47 mins)
Orient - Batt (39 mins).
Sending-off: Posh - Newell (second yellow card, foul).
Cautions: Posh - Oztumer (delaying the re-start), Payne (foul), Newell (foul).
Orient - Cuthbert (foul).
Referee: Kevin Johnson 6
Attendance: 5,546 (916 Posh).
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