Posh 2-1 Colchester - boo boys silenced by Marcus Maddison

Marcus Maddison (third from left) of Peterborough United celebrates scoring his second goal. Picture: Joe Dent
Marcus Maddison (third from left) of Peterborough United celebrates scoring his second goal. Picture: Joe Dent
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As the match came to a close and Marcus Maddison was unsurprisingly announced as man of the match, a cheer went out from what was left of the 5,000-strong Peterborough United support.

Two goals and an encouraging second-half performance fully merited the award as well as the bottle of fizz Maddison clutched when walking into meet the press after the match.

But the day could have all ended so differently. It could have ended with Maddison being substituted after 30 minutes to boos rather than the cheers which greeted him more than an hour later.

For Maddison was one of several players who Dave Robertson admitted he was considering hauling off before half-time.

Jack Collison and Jon Taylor were ready to come on and Maddison, who like Taylor plays on the wing, was an obvious player to make way.

Had he done so then the reaction of the fans would have been interesting after some booed Maddison on the opening day at Rochdale.

That some fans would turn against Maddison would have been unthinkable when he burst on to the scene last year with his dazzling footwork and lethal free-kicks which had Posh battling it out towards the top of the league.

Here was a player director of football Barry Fry said would prove a better signing than Craig Mackail-Smith, George Boyd, Dwight Gayle and Britt Assombalonga.

The problem for Maddison was injury struck and ever since he has not been the same player. Before October 25 he had six goals but he ended the season with eight overall and none after January 24 as Posh’s season petered out.

His play acting could be tolerated when he was performing well and winning matches, but looked silly and unnecessary when both himself and the team were struggling.

So let’s hope his performance yesterday (Saturday, August 15) is the start of the Maddison renaissance, the moment when this talented 21-year-old rediscovers his spark and excites the fans with match-winning displays.

If today does kick-start Maddison then he should give a lot of thank to a strike of the inside of his left boot 31 minutes in.

Colchester United had just scored while Posh were all over the place defensively and desperate in possession.

But with Collison and Taylor poised to come on, and Posh’s own Twitter feed suggesting that Maddison was to be hauled off, the former Gateshead-man sent the ball towards goal and flashing past Elliot Parish in the Colchester goal.

To some observers it was a cross which had fluked its way in, although Maddison was insistent afterwards that he had meant it.

Having seen some of his dipping, bewildering free-kicks last season, part of you thinks it might have been a deliberate and stunning strike.

Rationally, though, it’s hard not to conclude that the ball was intended for one of the players in the area.

In the end it did not matter, and to say Robertson did not care either way would be an understatement.

He had seen his side behind for just a minute, and he only had three more to wait for his side take an improbable lead.

Maddison drifted in from the right and from 20 yards out drilled his shot low towards the near post.

Parish - who was deputising for the injured number one Sam Walker - got down to his left but will be very disappointed to have pushed the ball into the corner of the net rather than wide of the post.

Maddison responded by sliding on his knees in celebration and Taylor and Collison remained in their seats until both were introduced well into the second-half.

Had Maddison not turned the match around then surely Robertson would have been forced into a change or two.

It’s hard to forget that Darren Ferguson’s last game in charge of his second spell saw him haul off two players after 35 minutes against MK Dons.

But there could hardly have been any grumbles had Robertson followed a similar method here.

His side were flat (something which he later blamed on the sun drying out the pitch too much) and Colchester looked able to cut open the defence at will

Posh gifted possession away several times in their own half, and they had had a couple of early warnings that Colchester were a threat.

Macauley Bonne had glanced a header wide and moments before the goal had Gavin Massey’s through ball not been hit so powerfully then George Moncur would have been clean in on goal.

The goal itself was so simple as Moncur was left in acres of space down the right and put in a low cross which 19-year-old Bonne, making his sixth League One start in the past couple of years, smashed home from close range.

Maddison then took over and turned the mood around before the break, but if Posh were indebted to him for their first points of the new season then they also had a lot to thank referee Mark Haywood for.

Haywood did not send off Posh striker Joe Gormley for a late challenge on Matthew Briggs just before the break.

After an hour he also did not send off goalkeeper Ben Alnwick who rushed out of his goal and used his arm to divert the ball away as Massey broke clear down the right.

There was still some distance to the goal, and the ball had been pushed wide, but it was still very surprising that the card brought out was a yellow and not a red.

Certainly, the Colchester players, fans and manager were all adamant that it was a red card offence.

Either side of that let-off the game opened up and it was a surprise that neither side found the net in the second-half.

Maddison played in Conor Washington who curled home only to be flagged offside.

Darren Ambrose twice missed the target for Colchester and Ricardo Santos, who replaced Tobi Adebayo-Rowling in the first-half after he went off injured, made a last ditch clearance over his own crossbar with Massey lurking.

Gormley then missed another chance to open his account for Posh as he miscontrolled the ball in a great position after Parish had come and missed a cross, again delivered by Maddison who was a continual threat in the opposition third.

In the end it did not matter as Posh sealed the win. Robertson could even rest Collison who was the only player from Tuesday’s night League Cup win over Crawley not to keep his place against Colchester.

His place was taken by Jermaine Anderson with Robertson hinting later that Collison will start against Sheffield United on Tuesday.

Whether he does or not, the 11 men taking to the pitch will have to be a lot better than they were for half-an-hour this afternoon.