Ricky-Jade Jones scored on his full Peterborough United debut in a 2-1 Leasing.com Trophy win over Cambridge United at the Weston Homes Stadium tonight (November 12).
The Academy graduate only signed his first professional contract four days ago on his 17th birthday and celebrated in style with a fine finish in the 30th minute.
Joe Ward had opened the scoring with a terrific free kick in the 10th minute with Cambridge replying late on through Harvey Knibbs after Posh had introduced three young debutants from the substitutes’ bench.
As expected Posh made 10 changes to the side that played poorly against Stevenage in the FA Cup at the weekend with only Harrison Burrows surviving the cull. To be fair Posh could have been outstanding at the Lamex Stadium and the same changes would have been made.
The opening 20 minutes were eventful with Cambridge missing two glorious chances either side of Ward’s sumptuous free-kick into the top corner from 20 yards in the 10th minute.
Rhys Bennett’s casual pass set up George Maris for a shot from the edge of the area, but he screwed badly wide and then Bennett’s attempted clearance was blocked leaving Andrew Dallas with a sitter which he messed up under pressure from Kyle Barker.
Without the help of defensive errors the visitors soon became passive going forward and Posh assumed control.
Harrison Burrows struck the post with a venemous strike from distance and Idris Kanu headed over from a Ward cross. Siriki Dembele was a constant threat with his dribbling from the tip of a midfield diamond and the second Posh goal on the half hour came as no surprise.
Dembele’s dribble ended with the ball running to Jones who turned and finished expertly to his obvious delight.
Cambridge, who made seven changes to their own FA Cup team, came into the game towards the end of the half with big George Taft prominent. They missed another chance to score when Paul Lewis headed wide from close range following a corner.
The second-half was a tame affair to start with, although Benjamin Mensah (at half-time for injury victim Ward, Bobby Copping (also at half-time for Sam Cartwright) and Archie Jones (for Serhat Tasdemir late on) were all handed Posh debuts.
Copping oozed class until a rocky finish to the match, while Mensah is a pocket battleship of a right-back. Archie Jones wasn’t shy of a tackle in his short time on the pitch.
Ricky Jones’ pace was a constant concern for the Cambridge defence (touch and vision will come later), but it was the visitors who came alive in the final stages against a side full of Academy players.
With 10 minutes left a simple ball over the top reached Marc Richards and his low cross was tapped home by Harvey Knibbs from close range.
Knibbs should have scored again within 60 seconds after robbing Copping on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was well saved by Posh ‘keeper Aaron Chapman.
Harry Darling then burst into the Posh area before overhitting his cross badly with teammates queueing up to score. Copping then sliced a cross over his own crossbar.
Burrows almost created a goal for Dembele in the last minute before Sam Smith shot tamely at Chapman from 20 yards.
Cambridge were given a free kick 25 yards out to try and take the tie into a pointless penalty shootout but Jordan Norville-Williams shot well wide.
Posh therefore completed the group stages with a 100 per cent winning record.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Joe Ward (sub Benjamin Mensah, 46 mins), Frazer Blake-Tracy, Sam Cartwright (sub Bobby Copping, 46 mins), Rhys Bennett, Kyle Barker, Harrison Burrows, Serhat Tasdemir (sub Archie Jones, 74 mins), Siriki Dembele, Idris Kanu, Ricky-Jade Jones.
Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Luke Harris, Brad Rolt, Shaun Ruzvidzo.
Cambridge United: Callum Burton, Leon Davies, Harry Darling, George Taft, Harrison Dunk (sub Dan Jones, 70 mins), Paul Worman (sub, Marc Richards, 70 mins), Paul Lewis, George Maris, Jordan Norville-Williams, Harvey Knibbs, Andrew Dallas (sub Sam Smith, 70 mins).
Unused substitutes: Dimitar Mitov.
Goals: Posh - Ward (10 mins), R. Jones (30 mins).
Cambridge - Knibbs (79 mins).
Cautions: Posh - A. Jones (foul).
Cambridge - Norville-Williams (foul), Smith (foul).
Referee: Chris Pollard 7
Attendance: 3,425 (224)