Leyton Orient 2, Posh 1 - Justice is seen to be done as Posh promotion dreams are dashed

Conor Washington scores the Posh consolation goal at Leyton Orient.
Conor Washington scores the Posh consolation goal at Leyton Orient.
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League One Play-off semi-final, 2nd leg report: (Orient win 3-2 on aggregate) It would of course have been a travesty of justice had Peterborough United won the League One play-offs.

No team losing 18 matches in the regular season should even have a shot at going up and Posh finished so far behind the top five it took a giant leap of faith to even consider the possibility of an immediate return to the Championship.

Sadly it was also asking a lot for a team who were a model of inconsistency for nine months to even string together just three good performances in a row. Posh didn’t play that badly against Orient over the two legs of their semi-final, but there can be no question that the right team will be travelling to Wembley later this month.

Orient had the greater firepower and created the better chances even though, last night (May 13) at least, they spent sizeable periods without the ball. Posh passed the ball accurately in midfield for long spells of the first-half, but clear sights of goal were few and far between until substitute Conor Washington’s 92nd minute consolation goal.

Indeed for all Posh’s dominance of the ball they created their best opportunities when springing forward at pace. Unfortunately they made too many poor decisions when in good positions.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson reckoned his team wasted three ‘three-on-three’ opportunities in the first-half alone, but shots were taken when passes were demanded and vice versa. If the manager pointed this out at the interval - and one rather suspects he did - Danny Swanson wasn’t listening two minutes after the re-start because after a delightful exchange of passes with Nicky Ajose, he sliced a shot horribly wide instead of squaring a simple pass to Britt Assombalonga.

It was one of the rare occasions when Assombalonga escaped two dominant Orient central defenders and it was possibly the decisive moment of the contest. Once Mark Little had brushed the outside of a post with a 20-yard drive, the game turned away from Posh for good.

Orient, boosted by reviews of the first leg when they were generally accepted to have been the better side, flew out of the blocks and almost scored from a first-minute long throw which caused an almighty scramble close to the Posh goal-line.

Posh weathered the early storm, but for all their patient possession they couldn’t fashion a scoring opportunity. Orient created more from less with David Mooney snatching a shot wide following a Bobby Olejnik fumble and Dean Cox volleying a late first-half opportunity wide of the mark.

It was Cox though who delivered the first deadly blow on the hour mark. Little’s dreadful header prompted Nathaniel Knight-Percival to haul Mooney down on the edge of the area and, although Cox smashed his shot into Jack Baldwin’s midriff, he was alert enough to follow-up and net from the rebound.

The goal deflated Posh and home substitute Shaun Batt should have scored minutes later following a Knight-Percival error, but his weak shot was saved by Olejnik.

Posh created little in reply though and Batt’s brilliant burst down the right wing enabled Dagnall to poke home a second goal in the 87th minute.

Naturally Posh threw everything forward and Washington’s cool finish two minutes into five minutes of added time ensured a frantic final which ended with Craig Alcock kneeing a last-gasp Grant McCann corner over the bar.

Ferguson made just one change in personnel to his starting line-up from the first leg, recalling Knight-Percival to the centre of defence and switching Alcock to left-back.

Intriguingly 10 of the side that started Posh’s win at Brisbane Road in February started this game and they went on to deliver a similar first-half of controlled possession, once they’d weathered a brisk Orient opening.

The slight contrast in styles made for a fascinating first-half. Posh were better through midfield areas where Jack Payne was outstanding, but Orient always appeared to carry the greater goal-threat.

Posh kept the ball for long periods, but moves inevitably broke down on the edge of the home area. As a result Posh were forced to shoot from distance with Payne’s early effort deflected wide and Tommy Rowe’s strike easily held by Orient ‘keeper Jamie Jones.

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Teams:

Posh: Bobby Olejnik 6, Mark Little 6, Nathaniel Knight-Percival 5 (sub Grant McCann, 80 mins), Jack Baldwin 8, Craig Alcock 7, Jack Payne 8 (sub Lloyd Isgrove, 75 mins), Michael Bostwick 6, Danny Swanson 6 (sub Conor Washington, 75 mins), Tommy Rowe 6, Nicky Ajose 6, Britt Assombalonga 5. Unused substitutes: Joe Day, Kgosi Ntlhe, Josh McQuoid, Shaun Brisley.

Orient: Jamie Jones, Elliot Omozusi, Romain Vincelot, Scott Cuthbert, Nathan Clarke (C), Mathieu Baudry, Dean Cox (sub Charlie Dagnall, 73 mins), Lloyd James, Kevin Lisbie (sub Shaun Batt, 68 mins), David Mooney, Moses Odubajo. Substitutes: Gary Sawyer, Jake Larkins, Shaun Batt, Marvin Bartley, Charlie Dagnall, John Lundstram, Robbie Simpson.

Match details:

Goals: Posh - Washington (90+2 mins).

Orient - Cox (60 mins), Dagnall (87 mins).

Cautions: Posh - Knight-Percival (foul).

Orient - Odubajo (foul).

Referee: Mick Russell 7

Attendance: 8,545 (1,416 Posh).

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