Posh suffered a shocking League One home defeat to managerless Gillingham at the ABAX Stadium today (October 14).
A first-half goal from Lee Martin 10 minutes before the break delivered just a second League One win of the season for the Gills, one they thoroughly deserved.
Posh huffed and puffed after the break, but failed to sustain any sort of pressure. Only when Jack Marriott’s free kick struck the crossbar from distance and when another set piece from Marcus Maddison almost caught visiting goalkeeper Tomas Holy out at his near post did they threaten an equaliser.
Indeed two fine first half saves from Posh goalkeeper Jonathan Bond restricted Gills to a one-goal win.
Posh were supposed to be refreshed after a weekend off, but instead a team that had scored six goals all season before kick-off, played them off the park for 45 minutes.
Gills’ midfield diamond formation bettered the Posh 4-4-2 system and they always looked the more accurate, incisive side to the obvious disappointment of a frustrated home crowd.
What the visitors lacked was a potent striker and when Josh Parker fired badly over just past the half hour their superiority looked set to go unrewarded.
But Martin took matters into his own hands by creating space and scoring off the inside of a post from 25 yards 10 minutes before the interval. His shot bounced six yards from the goal-line, but Jonathan Bond’s reactions appeared slow in the Posh goal. Martin became just the fourth player to score a goal for Gills this season.
But any blame attached to Bond turned to admiration as he made two fine saves to keep Posh in the game. He first thwarted Parker with his foot after the striker had accepted a superb long ball with great skill.
And then Bond rescued his side again after Elliott Lines had skipped past Posh skipper Jack Baldwin - preferred at centre-half to Ryan Tafazolli - and found himself clear in the area.
Most of Posh’s promise centred on the return of Gwion Edwards following injury, but a couple of moments of fine wingplay were not followed by accurate crosses.
Ricky Miller had the best Posh chance of the half on 42 minutes after Maddison played him through, but his weak shot was pushed away easily by big Tomas Holy in the Gills’ goal.
Posh were a little better after the break, but they too often looked short of confidence as well as form.
Edwards, who was comfortably the outstanding Posh player, breezed past his man into the area soon after the re-start and delivered a fine cross along the six yard box which was ruined by a lack of anticipation from the Posh strikers.
And that quickly became the story of the second-half. Gillingham rarely threatened, but all the promising attacking Posh positions were defeated by poor crossing and a lack of team play up front.
Marriott’s fine free kick thumped the crossbar midway through the half and just after Holy had scrambled across to keep out Maddison’s set-piece.
But Posh ran out of ideas long before then end, often resorting to optimistic long shots which had little chance if succeeding.
Since beating League One title favourites Wigan, Posh have now lost three League One games in a row, two against teams who srarted the games in the bottom four.
They were booed off the pitch by some Posh fans.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard (sub Danny Lloyd, 75 mins), Andrew Hughes, Jack Baldwin, Steven Taylor, Anthony Grant (sub Leo Da Silva Lopes, 59 mins), Chris Forrester, Gwion Edwards, Marcus Maddison, Jack Marriott, Ricky Miller (sub Idris Kanu, 75 mins). Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Ryan Tafazolli, Jermaine Anderson, Morgan Penfold.
Gillingham: Tomas Holy, Max Ehmer, Gaby Zakuani, Bradley Garmston (sub Connor Olgilvie, 46 mins), Mark Byrne (sub Scott Wagstaff, 62 mins), Billy Bingham, Jake, Hessenthaler, Lee Martin, Josh Parker, Elliott List (sub Conor Wilkinson, 69 mins), Sean Clare. Unused substitutes: Stuart Nelson, Finn O’Mara, Darren Oldaker, Gregory Cundle.
Goals: Gillingham - Martin (35 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Baldwin (foul).
Gillingham - Hessenthaler (foul), Wagstaff (foul), Wilkinson (delaying the re-start).
Referee: Dean Whitestone 7
Attendance: 5,257 (401 Gillingham).