The first match of Dave Robertson’s reign as permanent boss of Peterborough United ended in a 2-0 defeat at Rochdale today (August 8).
Posh were second best for most of the opening match of the season and deserved to lose to a slick Rochdale side who created several clear-cut chances and sealed the points through goals by Callum Camps and substitute Reuben Noble-Lazarus in either half.
The visitors will look back at a big miss from new signing Joe Gormley just after the hour mark when they were just a goal down.
But in truth Dale were worthy winners of what was a repeat of last year’s season opener which Posh won 1-0.
Posh announced the 30-day loan signing of 20-year-old Chelsea defender Alex Davey just before kick-off, and with Michael Smith, Jack Baldwin and Ricardo Santos missing through injury, Davey slotted in alongside Gabriel Zakuani in the centre of defence.
Debuts were also given to 18-year-old Tobi Adebayo-Rowling - who came in at right-back - and Gormley, the goal machine from Cliftonville who scored 40 times last season before heading to Posh.
Rochdale were the dominant side in the first 20 minutes, winning a couple of corners and stretching the Posh defence by getting the ball wide to Peter Vincenti and Joe Bunney.
However, it took a little bit of fortune for them to take the lead as Adebayo-Rowling attempted to block Donal McDermott’s through-ball but could only divert it into the path of Camps who poked it from close-range past Ben Alnwick.
To their credit, Posh then enjoyed their finest period of the half. One excellent free-flowing move down the left saw Kgosi Ntlhe, Marcus Maddison and Conor Washington combine to create space for Maddison whose drilled cross was deflected over his own bar by Jimmy McNulty.
Jon Taylor shot from 20 yards straight at Josh Lillis in the Dale goal, while a Maddison corner from the right was flicked towards goal by Ntlhe then again by Gormley, but the lack of pace on the ball did not trouble Lillis.
Rochdale sooned regained the ascendancy as Vincenti and Andy Cannon enjoyed plenty of space down the right. On one occasion a mix-up by Ntlhe and Anderson saw Cannon break free, but fortunately Davey blocked Ian Henderson’s near-post effort.
McDermott then volleyed over under little pressure, while Zakuani would have been relieved not to have been punished for a push on Henderson on the edge of the area as Posh limited the damage before half-time.
The second-half was not played at quite the same frantic pace, but Posh were fortunate that when Alnwick cleared a Camps cross with his feet it rebounded straight back to him off the nearby McNulty.
Michael Bostwick then fired wide twice - once from 20 yards after a short corner then again from slightly further out after being teed up by Maddison from a free-kick.
The big chance to level the scores came shortly after 60 minutes as Maddison found space in the middle and slipped a neat pass into Gormley who was free down the right.
But with just Lillis to beat he fired the ball wide of the far post to the anguish of Robertson in the Posh dugout.
Posh were soon punished for the miss as Noble-Lazarus, who came on just after Calvin Andrew for the hosts, found space down the left and drilled his shot into the far corner.
The goal came just moments after Alnwick had flapped at a cross, only for Vincenti’s header to hit the post.
Andrew also nearly got in on the act after Adebayo-Rowling lost the ball after a Posh corner, but Alnwick saved his shot and Henderson’s rebound was deflected wide.
Minutes later and Henderson played in Andrew who again just had Alnwick to beat, but from the right-hand side of the area he blasted over.
Robertson brought on Jack Collison and Souleymane Coulibaly for debuts while Harry Anderson came on, as Maddison, Jermaine Anderson and Taylor were all taken off in the last 15 minutes.
But they never fashioned another opportunity as good as the one which Gormley spurned at 1-0.
For watching Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony, he will hope this was just a bit of first-day rustiness.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Olutobi Adebayo-Rowling, Gabriel Zakuani, Alex Davey, Kgosi Ntlhe, Jon Taylor (sub Harry Anderson, 76 mins), Michael Bostwick, Jermaine Anderson (sub Jack Collison, 79 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Souleymane Coulibaly, 84 mins), Joe Gormley, Conor Washington.
Unused substitutes: Dion Curtis-Henry, Shaun Brisley, Harry Beautyman, Kyle Vassell.
Rochdale: Josh Lillis, Andy Cannon, Oliver Lancashire, Jimmy McNulty, Tom Kennedy, Jamie Allen, Peter Vincenti, Callum Camps (sub Michael Rose, mins 79), Donal McDermott (sub Reuben Nobel-Lazarus, 67 mins), Joe Bunney (sub Calvin Andrew 63 mins), Ian Henderson.
Unused substitutes: Ashley Eastham, Lewis Alessandra, Scott Tanser, Jonathan Diba Musangu.
Goals: Rochdale - Camps (18), Noble-Lazarus (69)
Cautions: Posh - Ntlhe (obstruction)
Referee: Andy Haines 6