Cambridge United succumbed to derby day defeat at the Weston Homes Stadium as Peterborough United claimed the points in Sky Bet League One with a ruthless 5-0 victory...
The U’s started in a positive manner, but a devastating six-minute spell on the eve of half-time from the hosts saw them steam ahead thanks to Ephron Mason-Clark’s brace and Kwame Poku’s strike. Unable to muster a response, Posh remained on top, with the latter grabbing his second moments after the break before an own goal near the death compounded a testing afternoon for United.
Warming up in front of a raucous atmosphere, the U’s – who boasted the best defence in the 92 thanks to eight clean sheets from 16 – were out to hold their nerves, extend the unbeaten run to six and rise into the top half, whilst play-off occupying Posh looked to return to winning ways after tasting a first defeat in ten last time out.
In response to the midweek success against Tottenham Hotspur U21s, Mark Bonner reverted back to his senior side as he named ten changes, with Saikou Janneh the only player retained in what was an unchanged XI from their last league outing. Elsewhere, Elias Kachunga and Gassan Ahadme returned to the bench after recovering from injury.
The U’s kept things tight in the opening minutes, impeccably keeping their shape, pressing well and looked calm in possession. Outside of it, they remained stern and threw bodies on the line to block Hector Kyprianou’s quickfire attempts inside the area, before Harrison Burrows’ speculative effort on 12 – the first on target – was claimed assuringly by Jack Stevens
On the stroke of the hour mark, the visitors forced their first opportunity when George Thomas’ corner floated towards Ryan Bennett, who directed a firm 15-yard header which continued to loop but Nicholas Bilokapic was on hand to leap and catch before it could trickle in.
Deadlock was broken on the 33rd minute when Poku picked out a deep cross down the right which was met by the head of Mason-Clark, who converted into the tight angle past his near post.
A hairy few minutes after the opener resulted in a second for Posh, who were exuberating confidence. Ricky-Jade Jones drove into space and unleashed a drilled delivery into the six-yard box, where Mason-Clark was on hand to slide in for his brace.
The hosts concluded the devastating spell on the 39th minute by handing United another sucker punch and a mountain to climb when Poku cut inside and curled an effort which took a huge deflection prior to finding its way into the net.
Desperate for a response, Bonner’s group created their best move on the 44th minute when Adam May was teed up from 12 yards – the midfielder’s fierce attempt was blocked and then latched at by Janneh, who headed past the post with his back to goal.
The game plan was certainly working for the first 30 minutes, but Peterborough smelt blood and were ruthless. It proved to be the same story after the break as, just when the U’s were showing some industry, their corner resulted in a blistering counter-attack started by Jones, crafted by Randall and concluded by Poku from a matter of yards.
The visitors introduced John-Kymani Gordon and Gassan Ahadme to the fold just after the hour mark, but chances dissipated as the half progressed. Posh remained on top in terms of final third action, but the U’s were clearing their lines well when called upon.
On the 79th minute, Gordon tested the gloves of Bilokapic after weaving his way into a dangerous position and curling towards the bottom corner, but the Australian strongly pawed it away.
Six minutes later, the hosts were celebrating their fifth when Randall’s corner was unfortunately turned home by Liam Bennett.
It was the last action of an afternoon to forget for the U’s, who now have two weeks to recuperate and prepare to bounce back ahead of their next League One tie, which sees them travel to Northampton Town on Saturday 25th November.
Peterborough United: Bilokapic, Kioso (Katongo, 68’), Knight, Edwards, Burrows, Kyprianou, Collins, Poku (Ajiboye, 83’), Randall, Mason-Clark, Jones (Wakeling, 83’)
Subs Not Used: Talley, Crichlow, De Havilland, Clarke-Harris
Goalscorers: Mason-Clark (33’, 36’), Poku (39’, 53’), OG (85’)
Cambridge United: Stevens, L. Bennett (Okedina, 87’), R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew (Haunstrup, 87’), Digby, Thomas (Ahadme, 63’), Brophy (Kachunga, 78’), May, Janneh (Gordon, 63’), Okenabirhie
Subs Not Used: Mannion
Referee: Scott Oldham