Following his poor display last week Shaun Maher was replaced in the starting line‑up by Martin Cranie who played at left back despite being very right-footed. This meant Neil Young moving across to the right and Broadhurst into the centre alongside Howe. Eddie was starting his last game of a 3-month loan from Pompey but, with a bit of luck, by the time you read this we may have come to some sort of deal to sign him permanently.
The game kicked off with Bournemouth, attacking the so dangerous terrace end, immediately on the offensive. The first of many 1st half chances fell to Spicer whose shot was blocked following an Elliott cross from the right. Then we got our first sight of the main weapon in Peterborough’s armoury with Andy Legg (shouldn’t he have retired by now?) launching a throw from near the half-way line into the Cherries box. This one, like the vast majority of those to follow, was well dealt with by the Cherries defence.
A lively start, and more was to follow as Spicer this time got down the right and crossed for Hayter, unmarked at the far post, to put away a good header for 1-0. How the Posh defence could have left the league’s leading goal scorer (how nice it is to be able to write that!) unmarked was a mystery.
Cherries continued to apply good pressure and with some assistance from the lenience of the referee Mr Kettle, produced reasonable chances for Howe and Big Fletch, who would both have been disappointed with their efforts. Wade also appeared to have a great chance to increase the lead when he got on the end of another defence-splitting pass from Stock only to attempt to cross when a shot on goal looked to be the better option.
A number of corners in quick succession helped to helped to keep the pressure on but as time went on I couldn’t help the suspicion that we had missed the chance to make the game safe before half time.
Barry Fry made two substitutions at half time and also changed the shape of his team. This had the effect of denying space to the Cherries’ wide players and the game became much more compressed in midfield. Neil Moss showed his excellent concentration when forced into a stretching save from Platt on the hour.
Fears about not having killed off the game were compounded when Posh increasingly took control of the game, although Fletch had another chance which resulted in a weak shot straight at the goalkeeper. The home side then had a reasonable shout for a penalty when Platt went down under a Cranie challenge, but this time Mr Kettle was off the boil and didn’t whistle (sorry!). I’ve seen penalties given for less.
Our attempts to soak up the pressure were not helped when Spicer fouled Woodhouse and then kicked the ball away resulting in a silly yellow card and the ball being moved forward 10 yards into a dangerous position. Luckily the free-kick was as ineffective as most of Peterborough’s attacking play and went harmlessly over the bar.
In the closing minutes the league’s leading scorer appeared to be fouled but although the referee waved play on Hayter limped off to be replaced by Connell. Let’s hope it’s not a serious injury. The final whistle finally went and the Cherries had successfully weathered the storm. The second half performance was not very impressive but it shouldn’t have needed to have been if we’d put some of our numerous first half chances away.
Very difficult to decide, with nobody really outstanding, but I’ll go for James Hayter (did I mention he’s the league’s leading scorer!)
AFCB: Moss, Young, Broadhurst, Howe, Cranie, Elliott, O’Connor, Spicer, Stock, Hayter, Fletcher
Subs: Stewart, Maher, Browning (on for O’Connor, 87 mins), Holmes, Connell (on for Hayter, 90)
Clive Loader, Wimbledon