Posh U18’s were dumped out of the FA Youth Cup, after they were heavily beaten, 4-1, by an impressive Leicester side, who progressed to the fifth-round stage of the competition.
Darragh MacAnthony and Darren Ferguson have been keen to highlight the talent coming through at youth levels at the club in recent times, with the Peterborough United hierarchy keen to develop players through the youth-system; something which Posh haven’t utilised for a long time now, with home-grown talent sparse.
Indeed, such is the importance placed upon the youth-system that Ferguson is keen to ensure the same style of football is played right through the club. As a result, the youth-teams are now keen to emulate their senior counterparts and play in a similar manner to the first-team.
Therefore it was no surprise that Gavin Strachan, manager of the U18’s, who was being watched by his dad and newly appointed Scotland coach Gordon, set his side up in a 5-2-3 formation that has been used regularly by Posh this season. Jaanai Gordon, fresh from his first-start at senior level for the club at the weekend, was chosen to play as the lone striker with Charlie Coulson and Jevani Brown flanking him. Elsewhere Jermaine Anderson, who has also appeared for Posh’s first-team, played as the deeper of the two central midfielders, with Dan Lawlor just ahead of him and highly rated Michael Richens was used as a right wing-back.
With the snow falling heavily at The King Power stadium, conditions were not ideal for football, but sides adapted to the conditions well and created an entertaining spectacle right from the start. Posh were first to test either ‘keeper, with Gordon using his strength to hold off Jamie Anton, at centre-back for Leicester, and nod the ball back for Brown who struck a powerful volley from range that Stuart Moore, in The Foxes goal, could only parry clear.
The hosts had their first chance of the game moments later when Anderson’s heavy touch gifted possession to Leicester in a dangerous position, but just as Eddy Samba was about to shoot, Richens got back well and cleared the ball to safety.
With visibility poor and swirling winds causing problems, set-pieces were always likely to be a threat and it was from a corner that Leicester had the ball in the back of the net for the first-time, but referee Michael D’Aguilar disallowed the goal after Alex Lynch was judged to have been impeded. In-truth, it looked a fairly harsh decision and the home players were certainly not shy in explaining their differing opinions to the referee.
Posh’s main threat in the early-stages was Jaanai Gordon who’s burgeoning reputation at the club continues to grow, and his pace was causing problems for the Leicester City defence. He came close to opening the scoring, too, but his deflected shot was well saved by Moore.
Despite a lack of clear-cut chances, it was the hosts who were looking the team in greater control of the match and when they got their lead few could say that it wasn’t deserved. Posh were gradually becoming deeper and deeper and when a cross was swung in from the right, Joe Dodoo ghosted into the box unmarked and flicked it beyond Lynch and into the far corner of the net.
It could have been a major set-back for Peterborough, who were on a high after an impressive 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the last round, but they reacted well and went straight on the attack, with Gordon once again spearheading it. It was the striker who found space in the Leicester area with some nice skill and he spotted the run of Coulson, who was well placed to tap the ball in, but his drilled cross was very well stopped by Moore, who was dealing with the conditions impressively.
It wasn’t long until Leicester had doubled their lead, though, and Peterborough would only have themselves to blame. Dan Lawlor, under no pressure, managed to give the ball away to Harrison Panayioutou, who had looked The Foxes brightest outlet, and with men running alongside him he slotted the ball into Dodoo’s path. Dodoo then showed his pace to burst past Joe Burgess and get a shot in, which he was desperately unlucky to see cannon back of the post, but the ball deflected into the path of the on-rushing Michael Cain and the central midfielder could not miss from close range.
The game could have been over moments later, too, when Panayioutou continued to show his talent, twisting and turning on the edge of the box and drawing a rash tackle. But Jak McCourt’s free-kick fizzed just wide of Lynch’s near-post with the Welsh youth international well beaten.
The next goal was now crucial, and Posh found a route back into the match – one which had seemingly been slipping away from them – on the cusp of half-time. Jevani Brown had grown into the half and had been Posh’s most likely player to make something happen and it was the lively winger who got the assist for Coulson’s goal to reduce the deficit. The young winger went on a mazy run and set the ball for the blonde-midfielder to volley into the top corner of the net on the cusp of half-time.
HOT-PROSPECT: Jaanai Gordon has earned himself a reputation as a star in the making.
With the goal having lifted the Posh side’s spirits heading into half-time they would have been looking to capitalise on their momentum going into the second-half, but Leicester started the brighter and could have restored their two goal lead when Panayioutou, who has a senior goal to his name, was found in space eight-yards out, but the striker’s header was badly miss-timed and went harmlessly wide.
The hosts wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to increase their advantage, though, as after a scramble in the away side’s box – following a free-kick that looked particularly dubious – Jack Hendry pushed a Leicester attacker who was about to head-home, with Lynch flapping at the cross, and they were awarded the penalty. Cain stepped up to take it and dispatched it with ease, sending Lynch the wrong way and scoring his second of the night after 58 minutes.
Cain and Doody had both been terrorising the Posh defence and the two linked-up well again when Cain showed his clear ability on the ball to release the pacey Doody who tucked his effort away, but was deemed offside by the linesman.
Strachan then switched formation to 4-4-2, with Reagan Carthey coming on to replace left-wing back Thomas Wood. Carthey joined Gordon up-front and James Sage moved over to left-back to compensate for Wood’s absence.
It was to no avail, though, as the game was over as a contest on 70 minutes, when Jamie Anton met an Eddy Samba corner and his powerful header beat Lynch who was occupied by the presence of Panayioutou in-front of him.
It was now a question of playing for pride for Strachan’s side and Coulson decided that he was going to give his everything to at least grab a consolation for his team. A box of tricks, he first tested Moore from range, after being released by Gordon and then showed his ability as a creator, beating two men before finding Carthey, who in turn laid the ball on to Gordon, who was only thwarted by excellent defending from McCourt.
The final ten minutes were played out at a fairly pedestrian pace with both teams knowing that their fate was sealed and the ref called time on an entertaining spectacle, that was slightly closer than the scoreline suggests, after four minutes of injury time.
Alex Lynch, 5 – Looked pretty suspect at times. Weak from crosses and poor distribution. Conditions did him no favours.
Michael Ritchens, 7 – A good outing from the Posh right wing-back who was utilised far more than Wood on the other side. Linked play up well going forward, was comfortable in possession and tight defensively.
James Sage, 6 – A little cumbersome in appearance, but did well enough against a clearly talented striker in Harrison Panayioutou. Looked more comfortable when switched to left-back.
Joe Burgess, 6 – Looked the best of the three Posh centre-backs. Able on the ball and solid defensively.
Jack Hendry, 6 – Did little of note, but did nothing particularly wrong either. Had little choice, but to make a foul with the penalty.
Thomas Wood, 5 – Quiet and not found much, as already stated. No surprise when he was substituted for Regan Carthey.
Jermaine Anderson, 6 – Gave possession away cheaply a few times, but was not deterred and showed his class in the end. Clearly able on the ball, he was the man who was looking to dictate the play the most.
Dan Lawlor, 5 – At fault for the second goal and was pretty quiet throughout. A tidy player when in possession, though.
Charlie Coulson, 8 – Man of the match. Took the game to Leicester second-half and scored during the first 45 minutes. He is very tricky and quick, but also intelligent and creative. Impressive.
Jevani Brown, 7 – Posh’s most likely outlet during the first-half and he always looks to move play forward when in possession. Movement found space between the Leicester midfield and defence. Wasn’t as key second-half.
Jaanai Gordon, 6 – Clearly a capable player and looked a class above at times, but also seemed too keen to do things by himself and was greedy on occasions. Easy to see why the scouts have been so impressed, though.
Up The Posh!