Two goals from Ivan Toney helped ten-man Peterborough to a 4-0 win over Oxford United this afternoon. Toney's brace and goals from Siriki Dembele and Josh Knight were enough for the Posh despite a red card for Nathan Thompson that briefly raised hopes of a United recovery.
After the heroics against Newcastle in midweek, the U’s went back to the team that had beaten Blackpool in the previous league match, other than a return for Matty Taylor up front after injury, and rather like the previous two meetings between the teams this season there was nothing much to choose between them in the first half hour.
There is a mutual respect and that led to a cagey opening third to the game in which neither keeper was truly tested. Indeed, other than a Toney free kick which smashed into one of his teammates rather than the awaiting wall, there wasn’t a shot in anger until Marcus Browne whistled a free kick a yard the wrong side of the post. Peterborough immediately went to the other end and Eastwood made a good save from Sam Szmodics as the game started to open up.
Too open perhaps, because the final 15 minutes of the half were all Peterborough. There was a warning when Dembele caught one shot all wrong and fired wide, but then on 36 minutes Brannagan uncharacteristically gave the ball away to Szmodics who passed beyond the defence and Dembele did the rest with a calm finish beyond Eastwood to make it 1-0.
United hadn’t truly threatened and could hardly argue about being a goal down at the break, and it might have got a lot worse if it hadn’t been for three goalline clearances inside six seconds, one from Long, two from the covering Gorrin. No worries: on Tuesday they were two down to a Premier League side so the game was far from over…
Toney then made it doubly difficult when he slid in at the back post to convert a Szmodics cross with no defender near him and United couldn’t truly complain at the 2-0 scoreline but then they were given a lifeline when Thompson chopped down Browne, the target of some tough tackles all afternoon, and was shown a second yellow. (Jonny Edmunds the Oxford kitman helped him on his way and was shown a yellow as tempers flared by the touchline.)
United now had a man advantage but didnt capitalise. Toney was unable to convert one dreadful clearance from Eastwood but then made up for it by getting a touch to a Dan Butler free kick to guide it past Eastwood and make it 3-0.
United threw men forward and tried to get at least something out of the game, but Pym saved from Ruffels and Mackie and that was essentially it even before Toney led a break. Szmodics crossed and Knight gleefully thumped the ball past Eastwood to make it 4-0.
No excuses. Just a bad day at the office. Not a great idea against a rising Peterborough side who looked very good.
United now need to bounce back at Burton on Tuesday night. See you there.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA