As these two clubs ventured into their first 90 minutes of competitive football in three months, each had question marks hanging over them. Would Peterborough be able to upset the odds and survive another campaign in the Championship? Were Southend still reeling from play-off disappointment? How would Peterborough, with a largely changed side, fare given five major new faces? And would Cameron Belford, a goalkeeper Southen signed on a month’s loan only hours prior to kick off, be able to gel with his defence in time?
The game started in Peterborough’s favour and they kept the ball for a good two minutes without conceding possession. Their fluidity was soon rewarded on 11 minutes, when George Boyd stabbed a pass across too Lee Tomlin who coolly poked the ball through the defender’s legs and under the flailing arm of Belford.
Southend restarted the match but didn’t seem to be in the first half, with shots from Paul Taylor and Lee Frecklington the latest to trouble Belford. The host’s lead was doubled on 27 minutes when Taylor received a pass from Tomlin, shimmied past two defenders and slid the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0.
Southend had barely had time to restart the game before Peterborough had another. Joe Newell collected the ball from George Boyd before feigning a pass back to Boyd and instead delightfully chipping the ball over the backtracking Belford, hitting the underside of the bar before nestling in the bottom corner.
When the game restarted Southend seemed to go for the “We’ve got nothing to lose approach” and crafted themselves a couple of decent opportunities, but found the formidable figure of Bobby Olejnik in the Peterborough goal. He controlled his box immaculately, twice coming to catch Southend crosses from the impressive Ryan Hall.
On 36 minutes Kane Ferdinand, cousin of Rio and Anton, clattered into Posh hardman Michael Bostwick. Ferdinand seemed lucky to get away with a yellow, which was met by deafening boos from the home faithful as he seemed to have his studs showing in the tackle. The half-time whistle blew and the Peterborough players jogged off the pitch while the Southend players trudged.
The second half started in much the same way the first had ended, with Posh dominating possession. The first effort on goal came from the rocket-like right boot of Bostwick, and while the shot was packed full of power it went comfortably wide.
On 47 minutes Southend were awarded a free-kick for a cynical challenge by Frecklington on Hall. The talented winger stepped up to take the free-kick himself, but found the cross bar in the way of the goal with Olejnik rooted to the centre of his goal.
A scrappy bout of play in the box again nearly led to a Southend goal. Anthony Straker clipped in a clever free kick which came to Ferdinand who headed straight at Olejnik, who could still only parry it into the path of Freddy Eastwood who headed over thanks to the immense pressure from Peterborough skipper Gabriel Zakuani.
Ten minutes later it was 4-0. A lovely bit of build-up play from Peterborough, which saw twenty-odd uninterrupted passes, before Tomlin’s clever reverse pass to Boyd allowed the Scot to slide the ball into the bottom left corner.
On 67 minutes the classy youngster Newell was replaced by impressive scot Danny Swanson. Swanson’s presence was instantly noticeable, linking up well with front two Tomlin and Taylor as well as making some clever solo runs. The game seemed to lose some of its pace as time wore on. Only a terrific run from Peterborough’s substitute right-back Mark Little got the crowd of their seats. In the end the shot was dragged wide from the ever-present Taylor. The referee blew for full time bringing an enthralling game to a climax.
Full Time Score: Peterborough Utd 4 Southend Utd 0
Man of the Match was Peterborough United’s Number 8 Lee Tomlin