Peterborough United 0 – 2 Norwich City
Location: London Road
Date: 28th July, 2012
Peterborough United played their first match on home soil since a battling 2-2 draw with Watford on 21st April.
Playing in front of a very sparse home crowd, the travelling Canaries may even have outnumbered the home support?they certainly out sung the home support!
City started with one ex-Posh defender playing at right back before switching him for a more recent ex-Posh player. Former Posh captain Russ Martin started the game against Posh and had a composed game before Ryan Bennett, who made a £3 million move on transfer deadline day last season, played in a more unaccustomed position compared to his normal central defence position.
Posh fielded a virtually unrecognised back five compared to the majority of last season as new number one Bobby Olejnik made his home debut while the back four comprised of two youngsters in Kgosi Ntlhe and Michael Richens in the full back positions with new signing Nat Knight-Percival partnering this seasons captain Gaby Zakuani in the centre of defence. Zakuani actually played on the right side of central-defence which again was a different position to what Posh fans are used to.
Posh kicked off proceedings which featured three transfer listed players. Boyd, Taylor and McCann all played a decent amount of time but it came as no surprise as there were a lot of scouts attending the game including the likes of Liverpool, Everton, Fulham, Reading plus a number of Championship and League One sides.
Both sides looked composed on the ball and played the ball around well. It was City that created the first chance after a neat move released Russ Martin down the right, before the City captain`s cross evaded Simeon Jackson after 7 minutes.
Just five minutes later, Posh created their first serious threat on the Canaries goal. City defender on Barnett lost the ball to Paul Taylor who played in Boyd. Boyd`s cross was met by the head of Tyrone Barnett but unfortunately for Posh, instead of taking the lead, the ball went over the top of the goal.
After a fairly even opening period with chances few and far between, the vocal Posh keeper needed two chances to gather a downward header from Steve Morison. As the half went on, Norwich started to edge possession and they saw another effort easily saved by Olejnik following a deflected Hoolahan shot.
Posh caused problems for Norwich following a good corner by the transfer listed McCann which ended with Nat Knight-Percival seeing his free header go wide of the target.
Moments later though, Norwich took the lead following some poor defending by rookie left back Kgosi Ntlhe. A cross from the left was headed back into the danger area by Ntlhe and as the ball bounced in the danger area, MORISON was the first to react to prod the ball past the keeper.
Former Posh loanee Andrew Crofts had a couple of long range efforts that failed to trouble Big “O” in the Posh goal while the disappointing Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who hardly featured in the first half, sent a curling effort high over the bar after he had moved into central midfield with McCann moving out to the left wing with Boyd switching to the right.
Grant McCann had the last effort of the first half but the ball hit the side netting.
Half-time: Peterborough United 0 – 1 Norwich City
Only one change was made at half time and that was done by the visitors. Ryan Bennett came on [pictured below wearing the number 33 shirt], to a warm reception from the Posh fans, at right back for Russ Martin.
City had the first effort of the second half after an excellent crossfield pass from Hoolahan found Jackson, but the latter couldn`t find a finish as his shot fizzed across goal and out for a goalkick.
City were controlling the game in the second half and their domination saw them create a number of chances. Jackson had another effort well saved by Olejnik before the keepers legs stopped Chris Martin from doubling City`s lead.
Posh did continue to create their own chances with Barnett stinging the hands of keeper Rudd before Rudd made an even better save to deny Taylor after a quickly taken throw-in.
Mendez-Laing, who is slightly behind most players in fitness terms following a niggly injury, was the first to be replaced. New signing Danny Swanson came on and immediately went over to the left with Boyd switching over to the right.
City still pressed Posh looking for that vital second goal which would kill the game off. A cross by Hoolahan was palmed away by Olejnik before racing out to deny the on-rushing Chris Martin.
With the game entering its final quarter, Posh made seven substitutions all at once. The only three players remaining from kick-off were Olejnik in goal, Taylor up front and Knight-Percival [pictured below] who at this point, switched from central defence to left back.
Moments later, Norwich made eight changes including the formidable Grant Holt. Keeper Rudd and centre-back Barnett being the only two City players to play the whole 90 minutes.
The changes certainly brought Posh to life and caused City problems. Danny Kearns was the most industrious and his battling and skills both eased the pressure and set-up chances for Posh.
The final change of the match saw the somewhat disappointing Taylor replaced by Nicky Ajose. Despite the problems both on and off the field last season, Ajose looked lively and he could`ve snatched a deserved goal for Posh after a neat pass from Tomlin. Unfortunately, just as he was about to pull the trigger, a last ditch tackle from Ward put the young striker off enough to make him slice his shot just wide of the goal.
With the game entering the final five minutes, Posh found themselves with a freekick just inside the Norwich half on Poshs right hand side. A short freekick found Tomlin who should`ve sent the ball over to the left where Swanson was yet again calling for the ball. However, Tomlin took the wrong decision and lost the ball. City were quickly on the offensive as Holt turned with the ball and sent a pinpoint pass to James VAUGHAN who beat teenager Peter Grant [pictured below] before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. Olejnik again stood no chance with the goal.
That was the last chance for either side and it was a deserved win for Norwich. Posh did well against the Premiership outfit and were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet and will take a lot of positives out of the games.
Full-time: Peterborough United 0 – 2 Norwich City
Posh: Olejnik, Richens (Little 66min), Zakuani (Brisley 65min), Nthle (Grant 66min), Knight-Percival, McCann (Newell 66min), Mendez-Laing (Swanson 52min), Bostwick (Frecklington 66min), Boyd (Tomlin 66min), Barnett (Kearns 66min), Taylor (Ajose 70min).
Unused subs: Sage, Lawlor.
Canaries: Rudd, Martin (R. Bennett 46min), Barnett, Ayala (Johnson 66min), Lappin (Vaughan 66min), Surman (Holt 66 min), Crofts (Pilkington 66min), Hoolahan (E. Bennett 66min), Morrison (Tierney 66min), Jackson (Howson 66min), C. Martin (Ward 66min).
Unused sub: Ruddy
Referee: Kevin Wright
This was the first chance Posh fans had to see their new-look Posh side on home soil. Unfortunately, not many home fans decided to take up the offer of seeing their side in action which must be frustrating for Darragh MacAnthony again.
New number one “Big O” Bobby Olejnik was very vocal and although he had a couple of dodgy saves and a misunderstanding between himself and Zakuani which nearly gifted Norwich a second goal, he looks a good addition to the squad. The more games he has behind the back four, the better understanding he`ll get with his defenders.
Midfielder Michael Bostwick was also impressive. Just from the warm-up you could tell from his size that he offers Posh something that has been missing in the centre of midfield. He also has a powerful shot on him having seen the majority of his shots in shooting practice (which now involves a proper goal rather than two sticks!) thunder into the corners of the goal. Bostwick was a big presence in the middle of the Posh midfield and although he hasn`t got the skill of Boyd or Tomlin, he breaks things up, is strong and makes the simple pass. He can also play long accurate balls as well though. Bostwick is going to be a vital member of the starting XI this season.
Tyrone Barnett looked very lively and often got back to defend. Who partners him in the first game of the season is unsure as Taylor didn`t look the same player as last season, although he did have the odd run (with his head down as usual!). Taylor may not be at the club either if he gets his wish and gets a move to the Premiership.
With a few pre-season games left before the first proper competitive match against Southend in the Capital One Cup, Fergie must surely start to decide on his preferred starting XI and give them a chance to gel.
Next up for Posh is former Norwich City manager Paul Lambert and his new team Aston Villa.
If you didn`t get along to this game, come on down to London Road on Wednesday to see Posh entertain Villa.
UP THE POSH!
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