The honours were shared at London Road as the two teams played out a 1-1 draw with Palace doing well to hang on after being reduced to ten men in the second half after McCarthy was dismissed for persistent fouling.
For the fixture Darren Ferguson made changes to the side that hadn`t managed to scoop a win in the Championship so far this season. The back four reverted to the tried and trusted quartet that had guided us to promotion whilst in midfield Lee Frecklington, as many suspected; was given his first Championship start. For the opposition, Freddie Sears was playing up front, a player Posh had high hopes of securing on a season long loan before Palace snapped him up.
The game started at a hectic pace. Joe Lewis did very well to claim a dangerous early corner with some confidence whilst Palace did well to soak up some early Posh pressure.
Tom Williams, pushing forward down the left flank, delivered two telling crosses into the box that Speroni, the Palace keeper, did well to collect. Whilst down the opposite flank an energetic burst forward by Russell Martin produced a Posh corner. Sadly it was to come to nothing as Zakuani was penalised for a foul. In between, Lewis had to palm away a dangerous looking free kick from Darren Ambrose.
Palace, awarded a free kick, some twenty-two yards out, saw Ambrose curl his shot just wide and minutes later Alan Lee also saw his shot go wide. With twenty-five minutes gone, Mclean was hacked down just outside the area by McCarthy who quite rightly received a yellow card for his offence. The free kick, taken by Williams, sailed harmlessly wide though.
Posh then earned another free kick, this time just outside the corner of the area and George Boyd`s dangerous cross into the box was hastily cleared by Shaun Derry. A good run by Shaun Batt down the right flank, from deep inside his own half forced a corner. Boyd took the corner short and after a slight delay the ball fed into the box Craig Mackail-Smith saw his low shot, from close range, cleared.
0-0 at half time but Posh looked to be getting the better of things as the half finished.
The second half started slowly but burst into life seconds after Boyd had received a yellow card for a foul on Forte. Posh launched a counter attack and when Boyd fed the ball to Shaun Batt he took advantage of his marker backing off to drive a low shot into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the season. He could have scored a second straight after but his unselfish play saw him try to feed a ball to Mackail-Smith instead of going for glory.
As Palace tried to get back into the match Lewis produced a good save from an Alan Lee header and then repeated the feat from a weakfish Danns shot. As Posh sought that crucial second goal Mackail-Smith was pulled back by McCarthy and when Boyd`s shot was blocked Frecklington could only drive the rebound wide. Frecklington, tracking back, then produced a marvellous tackle just outside the six yard box to deny Palace.
However, ten minutes after taking the lead Palace did draw level. Posh failed to clear their lines following a dead ball situation and Alan Lee smartly back-heeled the loose ball home from a couple of yards. Darren Ferguson tried to spark life into a demoralised Posh side by sending on Coutts for Diagouraga and four minutes later, in the 70th minute, was forced to introduce Rowe as Batt limped off.
Rowe immediately produced a good run and his pass to Mackail-Smith saw a cross flash across the danger area evading the onrushing Posh forwards. Mackail-Smith was then to play an instrumental role in the dismissal of McCarthy when the defender pushed, pulled and hauled him down for the umpteenth time and quite rightly received his marching orders.
Continuing to push forward Frecklington saw a shot go wide and a Boyd chip was headed over by Zakuani. Charlie Lee came on for Williams and almost immediately became an instant hero but his header flew over the bar instead of under. In the four minutes of added time Posh huffed and puffed but just couldn`t get that second goal so the honours were shared.
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