SCOUT'S REPORT: PETERBOROUGH UTD
POSH FIGHT BACK TO NICK POINTSSnapshot: Cardiff let three points slip at London Road where a pair of Grant McCann penalties, seven second half minutes apart, handed all three points to Peterborough.
City led midway through the first-half when Aron Gunnarsson swept home a knock-down from close range. Yet two moments of adjudged penalty-box indiscipline in the second half, both vehemently denied and protested by the City players, saw the Bluebirds relinquish the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the Championship table to ten points.
Chronological Report: It was actually the home side who made the brighter start on a sunny, yet bracing day at London Road. They were aided in grabbing some impetus early on by a poor, blindly played back-pass by Leon Barnett that skipped out for a corner. While nothing came from the initial over-hit delivery it rather gifted the Posh a platform from which they could build, and moments later they could have been ahead. A beautiful Lee Tomlin back-heel found Mark Little motoring up the right flank on the overlap, his scuffed cross was only cleared as far as Dwight Gayle who, from twelve yards out, could only muster a weak show that David Marshall was able to save with ease, down low.
The home side then rather gifted Cardiff the initiative, and subsequently the lead around the twenty minute mark. Tomlin, City’s tormentor in chief up to that point, played a sloppy back-pass towards Gabriel Zakuani that Fraizer Campbell was able to race onto, await supporting runners, and lay the ball off to Cowie on the overlap. His shot from the left of the area was blocked out for a corner - from which City took the lead. Cowie curled it in from the left, Ben Turner rose to flick the ball on at the near post to an area where Matthew Connolly was able to win a knock-down which fell to Aron Gunnarsson who, already on the floor, swept the ball home from just yards out.
Peterborough United 0-1 Aron Gunnarsson (23mins)
City’s main attacking threat was proving to be Gunnarsson’s long-throws, and it was from yet another of these that Cardiff nearly doubled their lead. The home defence could only clear it from whence it came and this allowed Cowie to hook the ball on to Smith, who himself at the by-line hooked a ball back across. Olejnik completely misjudged the flight, but Craig Alcock, defending at the back post, was able to clear the ball away from the line with no City player following it in.
To close a rather uneventful first-half both sides traded headers which drifted just wide of the respective back-sticks, for City - Heidar Helguson, for the Posh - Gabriel Zakuani. On both occasions the relevant goalkeeper was stranded and left watching the effort slide narrowly to safety.
HT: Peterborough United 0 - 1 Cardiff City
The second-half began in explosive fashion, the home side piling men forward in the opening seconds and very nearly opening up a lethargic City defence, but the Bluebirds scrambled back effectively to nullify a dangerous looking attack. At the other end Cardiff immediately fashioned a move which ended with Gunnarsson lashing an effort wide, and then came a moment of apparent controversy.
After two similarly contentious decisions with Ben Turner in the first-half, Dwight Gayle this time went down inside the area claiming contact with Barnett. The ref, and Leon, waved away the protests; Gayle and the home fans directly behind the incident went potty.
Cardiff might very well have added to the home fans' mire moments later as they fashioned their best chance of the second-half. Tommy Smith and Gunnarsson combined well on the right, the latter surging to the by-line and picking out Whittingham at the near-post with his cut-back, but stretching Peter could only flash the chance wide across goal.
Despite their goal advantage Cardiff were looking decidedly sloppy at the back and were playing themselves into some awkward positions at times. Not least a Turner back-header which had to travel some distance and rather invited Gayle an opportunity to intercept, but Marshall read the situation well and intervened at the edge of the area.
Peterborough United Substitution: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing for Joe Newell (55mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Craig Conway for Peter Whittingham (69mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Rudy Gestede for Fraizer Campbell (58mins)
Peterborough United Substitution: Grant McCann for Kane Ferdinand (70mins)
On the seventy minute mark a penalty decision did go the home side's way as Don Cowie was adjudged to have tripped Nathaniel-Laing following a melee in the City box. Grant McCann, with his first touch off the bench, stepped up and dispatched the spot kick low to Marshall’s left.
Peterborough United 1-1 Cardiff City (Grant McCann PEN 72mins)
Cardiff responded to the set-back quickly and launched an attack down the left where Craig Conway, at the second attempt, was able to take on and cut inside his marker before flashing an effort across the face of goal and wide. Moments later Helguson went close with a downward header that was easily smothered by Olejnik.
Cardiff City Substitution: Joe Mason for Heidar Helguson (77mins)
Then, spurred on by a rowdy, partizan home crowd, Peterborough struck a decisive blow. The home side attacked down their left where Matthew Connolly was adjudged to have felled Gayle. In identical fashion McCann slotted the penalty home and City were behind.
Peterborough United 2-1 Cardiff City (Grant McCann PEN 80mins)
Despite this latest dramatic set-back at London Road Cardiff still carved out enough chances late on to snatch a point deep into injury time. Both arrived from crosses from the right as firstly Smith’s ball in dropped to the feet of Rudy Gestede who, whilst slipping, lashed the ball at goal, but Olejnik, diving to his right, was able to save with his legs. Then, with time expiring, Cowie curled over a beautifully inviting cross which Rudy rose to meet middle of the goal but powered his header over.
FT: Peterborough United 2 - 1 Cardiff City