Blimey, it’s been too long since I’ve written one of these. Posh returned to league action following their 2 cup departures in the past fortnight; a rejuvenated Southend provided the opposition. The Shrimpers have lost 10 out of 14 away matches this season (we all know Posh have a habit of helping teams overcome sticky periods of form) and the last time we beat them in a league match I wasn’t even 2 years old. Oh, and we’ve lost the last 4 matches today’s referee Dean Whitestone has taken charge of (more on him later). We all know where this is going…
Nobody in the significantly reduced crowd expected a worse start today than against Leicester 7 days prior. But you should always expect the unexpected at London Road. In an uncharacteristically poor piece of judgement from Steven Taylor, the Geordie veteran let Stephen McLaughlin run onto a clever flick inside the area; Posh custodian Jonathan Bond trundled off his line and hauled the Saaaarfend winger down for a penalty. Taylor and Bond had somehow conspired to make themselves look like a bigger pair of tits than those possessed by the latter’s fake girlfriend, and it resulted in the home side falling behind.
Southend were clearly not content with a one goal lead; Michael Kightly and Ben Coker wreaked havoc down the left hand side, and the impressive McLaughlin took up a free role to make life very uncomfortable for the Posh backline. George Cooper whipped a cross to Marcus Maddison which resulted in a soft attempt from the mercurial number 11, the highlight of a very disjointed attacking display in the first 40 minutes. McCann’s men looked unconvincing; there was less chemistry between Marriott and new man Bogle than in a particularly bad episode of The Undateables, Cooper and Maddison were on the whole anonymous and the team as a unit were unable to master football’s most basic formation.
Referee Whitestone displayed his unique man management techniques towards the end of the first half. The fouling was persistent, the challenges were reckless and the cards were non existent. In a particularly scrappy period, Southend’s Michael Timlin went down injured which facilitated the biggest round of applause of the day as Southend’s larger than life physio waddled on to offer support. Nothing can get a football crowd going quite like a fat person attempting to exercise.
Posh thought they’d drawn level as Maddison’s excellent through ball was rifled home expertly by Andrew Hughes… Only for the assistant’s flag to cut celebrations short. Marriott’s scuffed one on one straight at goalkeeper Mark Oxley brought a frustrating first period to a close.
Posh came out all guns blazing after the interval. Omar Bogle’s poor touch forced the debutant wide, and his attempted ball to Marcus Maddison was bizarrely intercepted and smashed into the arms of his own goalkeeper by Dru Yearwood; this wasn’t deemed to be a back pass to the fury of McCann. Moments later, Marriott again fluffed his lines when through on goal after winning a foot race against John White, leading to the Blues’ defender being stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury. A flurry of corners expertly delivered by Maddison piled the pressure on, but they didn’t provide a route back into the game for Posh. We were fortunate to not fall further behind, as an incisive Southend breakaway was almost rounded off by the experienced Simon Cox, but his somewhat flaccid shot was wide of the far post.
The momentum Posh built up had all but evaporated. The only real chance we had of note was a dipping Chris Forrester effort, but Oxley was always equal to it. Again, Southend should have doubled their lead as Jason Demetriou whipped a free kick across the face of goal, but nobody provided the necessary touch. This signalled a double Posh change, as the ineffectual Cooper was replaced by Lloyd, whilst Forrester was replaced by Junior Morias. The Irishman, who in recent weeks looked to be returning to his classy self, was visibly furious at being taken off. He refused the hand of assistant manager David Oldfield and stormed down the tunnel, before returning moments later appearing much calmer.
With 20 minutes remaining, Whitestone lost control. Shephard and McLaughlin were both cautioned for poor tackles, before Bond bizarrely avoided conceding a second penalty of the afternoon as he clearly wiped out the Southend man after Andrew Hughes managed to escape punishment for a high tackle. All 5,114 fans were seething with the officials.
The final 15 minutes petered out into an unremarkable affair. A series of hopeful punts (that’s a p, not a c) upfield onto the heads of Michael Turner and Anton Ferdinand-renowned for their aerial ability- was the tactic McCann opted for. Leo Da Silva Lopes replaced the ineffectual Bogle and provided one of the few positive performances for Posh, but the mercurial youth product couldn’t help Posh to an equaliser.
The fourth official-a spitting image of Kenny senior from Phoenix Nights-signalled 10 minutes of added time. Chris Powell has clearly drilled his new team defensively, and they were not broken down by the rich attacking talent Posh had on display. However, the home side thought they had stolen an unlikely point, as Marcus Maddison clipped a ball goalbound which was converted again by Posh’s most dangerous outlet Andrew Hughes… Only for him to again be denied by the offside flag. Grant McCann opted to tell said official he was a “fucking disgrace”. Those in glass houses probably shouldn’t throw stones, Grant. Posh 0, Southend 1.