Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peterborough 2 - 0 Newcastle

So, that's that for another year then.

With the games coming thick and fast, and our grip on second place in the Championship no more than tentative, it was no surprise that for the League Cup visit to London Road Chris Hughton opted to leave a whole host of first team regulars back on Tyneside (Steve Harper, Jose Enrique, Fabricio Coloccini, ASBO, Bigger Lad plus the injured Danny Simpson) and draft in the kids (James Tavernier, Ryan Donaldson, Ben Tozer, Kazenga Lua Lua and Haris Vuckic).

But what was surprising was his failure to pick a defensively minded midfielder, with Alan Smith on the bench and Nicky Butt nowhere to be seen. As a result, a team that could still boast the likes of Danny Guthrie, Ryan Taylor, Peter Lovenkrands and Steven Taylor was comprehensively and embarrassingly outclassed by a Peterborough side two leagues below us last season who only mustered their first league win of the current campaign on Saturday.

Posh started off like they meant to go on, Aaron McLean striking the frame of Tim Krul's goal, but they didn't have to wait long to take the lead, prancing blonde showpony Craig Mackail-Smith taking advantage of fortuitous circumstances to head home.

Just over ten minutes later it was two, left-back Tom Williams scoring at Krul's near post. I suppose the guy deserves a break, engaged as he is to pneumatically chested I'm A Celebrity... airhead and uber-WAG Nicola McLean...

Mackail-Smith hit the bar himself but somehow we made it into the dressing room without conceding again - only to emerge for the second period and let Posh carry on bossing us all over the park. While our goal continued to lead a charmed life, we were less fortunate when Danny Guthrie was shown a second yellow card for a foul on George Boyd. His first booking, in the first half, was for deliberately kicking the ball away - as one of the senior pros in the team, he really should have known better. Having been mysteriously condemned to the bench on Saturday, he'll now have to sit out the trip to Ipswich through his own rash stupidity.

On the hour Hughton introduced all three of the first teamers he had in reserve - Kevin Nolan, Geremi and Smith - but to no avail. The traffic was still very much one-way, with Krul making amends for possibly being at fault for the second goal by keeping out shot after shot and emerging as the only player with any credit. That's now two midweek games in a row in which supposedly lowly Championship opponents have run riot due either to a defensive midfielder being ineffectual or being absent altogether - a stark warning, if ever there was one.

We could, I suppose, point to a couple of penalty appeals waved away by referee Keith Stroud, but the statistics tell a story not truly reflected in the final score: 21 efforts on target for the home team, as compared to our paltry two.

Not a good night on any level, then, though it's not as though we were going to win the competition, and Hughton's right to prioritise the league. Let's just hope Ferguson Jr doesn't have the same Indian sign over us as his old pa, though...

Other reports: BBC


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