Posh v Tranmere Rovers 2nd Rd 7 Dec 2013
Venue: London Road, Peterborough
Attendance: 3,269 (242 Tranmere)
Score: Peterborough Utd 5 v Tranmere Rovers 0
Referee: Michael Naylor.
Since the end of September Posh had done an excellent job in lowering the expectations of supporters spoilt, not only by success, but also by the level of entertainment on offer. A team suddenly struggling for ideas in the final third of the pitch came as a huge shock to the system.
It has been like a force-fed diet of Alan Carr after a few years feasting on Jimmy Carr, but the good times returned to London Road today and the only sad statistic was how few were there to see a 5-0 win, which could easily have been doubled, delivered by a team displaying great strength in depth as well as great hope for the future.
Few would have picked a starting XI which included a 19 year-old left-back, a 17 year-old in midfield and two 21 year-old strikers if everyone had been available. They might for the next game though.
Naturally forwards Britt Assombalonga and Shaun Jeffers stole almost all the limelight, but the pair, who had been thrown together for the first time, were quick to pay homage to those around them. Lee Tomlin certainly enjoyed feeding the ball to two young men whose first instinct was to run forward rather than to stop and pass the ball backwards.
Defenders hate facing pace. Out-of-form defenders like the ones Tranmere fielded hate it even more. Showing Assombalonga on to his right foot within 25 yards of goal was a tactic of a fool, giving talents like Tomlin and Grant McCann all the time and space in the world in which to pick passes was a tactic even David Moyes would have shied away from.
It took Posh a while to turn their domination into goals – Jeffers missed a sitter after a poor attempt by Tranmere ‘keeper Owain Fon Williams to deal with a Hogan Ephraim cross and skipper Michael Bostwick almost contributed a goal-of-the-season contender following a dribble past several defenders – but once Assombalonga had accepted a pass from Tomlin, advanced 20 yards and fired a fierce shot past the visiting ‘keeper at his near post 10 minutes before the break it was easy to spot a huge rise in confidence from the entire team.
Jeffers poked home number two in first-half injury-time after Shaun Brisley had flicked on Tomlin’s corner and Assombalonga completed his hat-trick with two goals in 10 second-half minutes.
He first picked up a Danny Swanson pass before switching inside his full-back and blasting past Fon Williams and he then smashed home a beauty from 20 yards which was all curl and pace on its way to the corner of the net.
Jeffers confirmed the rout – and a second 5-0 win over Tranmere this season – with a tidy finish from Bostwick’s right-wing cross in second-half injury time. It completed an exceptional performance from the new strike pairing as well as the whole team.
Other chances came and went most noticeably to Jeffers, McCann and Brisley, but this wasn’t a day for worrying about the ones that got away or for the reasonable expectation that no other team will come to the city and play as limply as Tranmere again all season.
The visitors managed just two shots in 90 minutes and neither of them were on target. Posh were clearly on top at both ends of the pitch.
‘Convincing’ was the word of choice from Posh boss Darren Ferguson after the game and was left dreaming of a third round FA Cup tie at Old Trafford. However he was out-performed in the post-match press conference by Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore who apologised to all 242 of the travelling fans – he may even know them all personally – for a display he described as ‘embarrassing’.
The Posh: Bobby Olejnik, Mark Little (sub Nathaniel Knight-Percival, 74 mins). Michael Bostwick, Shaun Brisley, Kgosi Ntlhe, Grant McCann, Hogan Ephraim (sub Danny Swanson 28 mins), Jermaine Anderson, Lee Tomlin (sub Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, 74 mins), Britt Assombalonga and Shaun Jeffers. Unused substitutes: Joe Day, Tyrone Barnett, Tom Conlon, Liam Marshall.
Tranmere: Owain Fon Williams, Danny Holmes, Ryan Edwards, Jim McNulty, Liam Ridehalgh, Chris Atkinson, Jake Kirby (sub James Rowe, 64 mins), Kristoffer Peterson, James Wallace, Ryan Lowe and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (sub Cole Stockton 59 mins). Unused substitutes: Jason Mooney, Evan Horwood, Max Power, Akpo Sodje, Jason Koumas.
Goal scorers: Posh – Britt Assombalonga (38 mins, 64 mins & 73 mins) and Shaun Jeffers (45 mins & 90 mins).