Football punidtry isn’t as easy as Robbie Savage makes it look.
Most of us were happy to write Conor Washington off (as a goalscorer at least) after the previous weekend’s (October 31) remarkable display of self-foot-shooting at Coventry. Many Peterborough United fans laughed at manager Graham Westley’s assertion ahead of this first round FA Cup tie that he would turn the former St Ives postman into a Championship-standard striker
Now Westley may well have been indulging in come positive mind games with one of the more modest and likeable professional footballers on the circuit, but, even if he was, he can surely take some credit for Washington’s match-winning turn at Burton Albion. Two goals from four decent chances is a vast improvement on the striker’s 0 out of five return from the Ricoh Arena.
Westley’s own form should also be applauded. He took the blame for the Coventry defeat so he should accept personal praise for this win against a team currently sitting second in League One and not just for brain-washing Washington into believing he was Dwight Gayle.
Posh were ordinary for half an hour against a well-organised, well-coached team, albeit one without much of a goal threat. The Brewers have scored 16 goals in 16 League One matches, exactly half the number scored by Posh, which sums them up in one neat statistic. Score first against them and you have every chance of winning.
But Burton looked the likeliest scorers throughout the opening exchanges. Posh had started with a midfield diamond, but found themselves over-run by tenacious opponents who often had a man extra in the middle of the field, an advantage they used to hound the Posh ball players as soon as they picked up possession. Westley soon switched to a 4-4-2 and the game was gradually transformed.
Burton’s chances when on top were restricted to a couple of ambitious shots from top scorer Nasser El Khayati and one outstanding passing movement down their right which was thwarted by a Ricardo Santos clearance from under his own crossbar. They were made to pay four minutes before the break when Posh scored from their first real opportunity.
Substitute Michael Smith, who had been axed from his right-back slot in favour of Michael Bostwick, supplied the excellent pass that Washington slotted home from eight yards. Smith had entered the fray just five minutes earlier when Gaby Zakuani left the pitch with a sore head.
And with the wind at their backs after the break Posh started to deliver their own special brand of pacy attacking football, once goalkeeper Ben Alnwick, who had made a superb save from a 20-yard Jerome Binnom-Williams shot just before the opening goal, had tipped a close-range Phil Edwards header over the crossbar.
Jon Taylor revelled in the space he found on the left wing and Chris Forrester’s intelligent passing ensured Posh were always moving forward. It took Posh a while to find that crucial second goal as Washington spoilt a strong run, after accepting Lee Angol’s long pass, with an off-target lobbed finish and Taylor saw his deflected shot from 25 yards, after a scorching sideways run, superbly saved by young ‘keeper Remi Matthews.
But a weak back-header from Edwards, and a hesistant departure from his goal-line by Matthews, enabled Washington to pounce to score his second goal 18 minutes from time and Jermaine Anderson swept home his second goal in successive weeks (they were almost identical finishes) from a Callum Elder cross to complete the scoring seven minutes from time. Taylor had such fun he even came close to scoring with a header from a corner taken by substitute Andrew Fox, but Matthews saved and Washington hooked the rebound over the crossbar.
‘Justice for Jermaine’ sang the Posh crowd who remembered the teenage midfielder’s ‘goal’ at the same stadium back in August that was incorrectly ruled out.
Justice was also meted out to Posh substitute Jack Baldwin who was sent on as a midfielder in the 91st minute for his first competitive action since damaging knee ligaments 371 days previously. Sadly he must have spent some of that free time watching Bruce Lee movies as he was sent off within 60 seconds for a quite awful challenge on Edwards.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Bostwick, Callum Elder, Gaby Zakuani (sub Michael Smith, 36 mins), Ricardo Santos, Chris Forrester, Erhun Oztumer (sub Andrew Fox, 63 mins), Jon Taylor, Jermaine Anderson, Lee Angol (sub Jack Baldwin, 90 mins), Conor Washington. Unused substitutes: Harry Beautyman, Souleymane Coulibaly, Marcus Maddison, Dion-Curtis Henry.
Burton Albion: Remi Matthews, Phil Edwards, Mark Duffy, John Mousinho, Calum Butcher, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Timmy Thiele (sub Stuart Beavon, 55 mins), Lucas Akins (sub Aurelien Joachim, 55 mins), Nasser El Khayati, Matty Palmer (sub Callum Reilly, 73 mins), Tom Flanagan. Unused substitutes: Jon McLaughlin, Darius Charles, Liam Slade, Sam Austin.
Goals: Posh - Washington (41 mins & 72 mins), Anderson (83 mins).
Sending off: Posh - Baldwin (serious foul play).
Caution: Burton - Mousinho (foul).
Referee: David Webb 8
Attendance: 2,517 (584 Posh).