Posh v Exeter City 1st Rd 9 Nov 2013

Venue: London Road, Peterborough

Attendance: 3,379 (181 away fans)

Score: Peterborough Utd 2 v Execter City 0

Officials: Graham Salisbury, David Plowright, Ian Rathbone and Grant Taylor.

For the first time this season Manager Darren Ferguson ditched the midfield diamond and started with a 3-5-2 formation, handing first starts of the season to centre-back Shaun Brisley, who was excellent, and Joe Newell, who grew in confidence as the game wore on.

Tyrone Barnett was responsible for most of the Posh efforts on goal before the break starting with a first-minute header from a Mark Little cross that sailed straight at visiting ‘keeper Artur Krysiak, but the build-up was painfully slow and woefully inaccurate for the most part as Exeter piled everyone behind the ball.

Fortunately for the Posh Hogan Ephraim (an on-loan QPR midfielder) strode onto the pitch at half-time and transformed this FA Cup tie. Along with Nathan Mendez-Laing the two were the sparks for the improvement in Posh’s performance. They replaced Danny Swanson and Tyrone Barnett at half-time and injected some pace and the odd idea to Posh forward line – they were also helped by Exeter abandoning their 10-man defensive policy which had been a huge factor in an instantly forgettable first period.

It still took 70 minutes for Posh to break the resistance of League Two opposition. Ephraim’s neat one-two with Mark Little set the right-back free and his perfect cross was converted from tap-in range by a grateful, and very relieved, Britt Assombalonga for his first goal since September 21.

Less than 10 minutes later and Kgosi Nthle’s strong run forward led to a short pass from Assombalonga and a very clever one from Ephraim which enabled Mendez-Laing to smash home the second goal from 18 yards.

Posh were worthy winners even though they continue to labour going forward, although with Tommy Rowe and Grant McCann joining Lee Tomlin on the absentee list creativity was always going to be an issue.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson, in a prickly start to his post-match press conference, described his team’s first-half display as ‘patient’ – which presumably is manager-speak for boring – and their post-interval work as ‘first-class’, which in comparison to the first 45 minutes was probably true.

Teams:

Posh: Bobby Olejnik, Craig Alcock, Kgosi Nthle, Shaun Brisley, Michael Bostwick, Danny Swanson (sub Hogan Ephraim 46), Jack Payne (sub Tom Conlon 68), Britt Assombalonga, Tyrone Barnett (sub Nathan Mendez-Laing 46), Joe Newell and Mark Little.

Unused subs: Joe Day, Gabriel Zakuani, Jermaine Anderson and Shaun Jeffers. Exeter City: Artur Krysiak, Craig Woodman, Scot Bennett, Pat Baldwin (sub Tom Nichols 77), Danny Coles, Liam Sercombe, Arron Davies, Tom Doherty (sub John O’Flynn 47 mins), Sam Parkin, Matt Grimes and Matthew Gill (sub David Wheeler 81 mins).

Unused subs: Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jake Gosling, Jimmy Keohane and Christy Pym.

Goal scorers: The Posh – Britt Assombalonga 72 mins and Nathan Mendez-Laing 79 mins.

Bookings: Britt Assombalonga and Hogan Ephraim (the Posh), Tom Doherty (Exeter City)