Carlisle Utd outclassed as Peterborough run riot
Last updated at 11:41, Monday, 14 March 2011
Peterborough 6 Carlisle United 0: Wanted: a penalties coach for Peterborough United and perhaps a barber to tidy up George Boyd’s loose locks. Otherwise, Darren Ferguson’s men have got things just about covered.
For Carlisle United: a crack team of hypnotists to tell Greg Abbott’s players that Saturday’s 6-0 obliteration happened to a bunch of other people and that they were nowhere near London Road at the time of the offence.
Alternative remedies may be required, because the simple business of football coaching and management couldn’t save the Blues from themselves and their dead-eyed opponents two days ago. “Jose Mourinho couldn’t have done anything about that,” argued Abbott, “and he’s supposed to be a better coach than me.”
After a landslide of goals that would have horrified a defensive king like the Special One, here’s a shovel-load of statistics for United and their bewildered followers to inspect: Peterborough’s blitz took their season’s tally past 100 by the second weekend in March and subjected Carlisle to their heaviest bashing for 10 years. Only the spot-kick saving expertise of Adam Collin, and Boyd’s surprising leniency from 12 yards at the death, spared the Cumbrians from their biggest annihilation since the 1950s.
“The penalties we missed were the only real disappointment of the day,” said Ferguson, who deserved a medal for keeping a gloating grin away from his chops during the post-match media rounds. “And for 15 minutes in the first half, we got a little slack.” No prizes for guessing the identity of this football perfectionist’s Manchester-based dad.
The way Boyd approached and attacked his 92nd-minute penalty gave the impression of a man for whom things had become too simple. Presented with a hat-trick chance, Peterborough’s number 10 jogged up to the ball and hoofed it into an advertising board. It was as though the time for measured, complicated foot-trickery had passed and Boyd wanted to give his brain the rest of the day off
Posh fans ought to forgive the Scottish B international. The man with the flowing mane, whose elegant forward play illuminated this game the most, recently became a father. Carlisle can today offer up thanks that they weren’t obliged to defend against a Boyd who wasn’t sleep-deprived. Otherwise six would surely have been 10 or more, and Abbott would have needed to expand his vocabulary in order to assemble his thoughts for public consumption.
In all big defeats there is a decent need to seek out and then illuminate the skills of the winning team. Peterborough, who have now gone 70 games without a nil-nil draw, are beyond question the hottest goalscoring ticket in League One. With Boyd’s craftsmanship behind the frontrunning devil of Craig Mackail-Smith and in front of the left-footed intelligence of Grant McCann (once a Carlisle target) – and threats tearing in from so many other angles – the Posh are equipped to pull the rug from under better sides than the Cumbrians.
Any team that keeps Ferguson’s men at the gates for 90 minutes therefore deserves honours for gallantry. Yet there are ways and means of limiting the damage, and they do not involve static defending and naïve chasing which cost the Blues a trio of goals in both halves, led their young defender, Liam Cooper, to a 63rd-minute red card and might have ransacked their lingering play-off hopes.
When the Hull loanee was dispatched for a second yellow – dubiously, in fact, such was the trifling nature of his second-half challenge on Boyd – it felt like an act of mercy. The single act that defined this chastening day was the sliding tackle Cooper attempted on Boyd in the 45th minute. The Carlisle man was still on the deck, wondering what had come to pass, while the Posh player was trotting away in celebration, having sneaked the ball past the prone defender and under Collin.
The thousand-yard stare on Cooper’s face as he trudged off was shared by the rest of his team-mates at close of play. At least United’s supporters, some of whom performed a conga around the away terrace during the second half, managed to retain some good cheer despite the bleak events they had paid to watch.
For the first two minutes, Abbott’s red-shirted troops were in the game; then the sky fell in. A lofted ball down the right saw the jet-heeled Mackail-Smith dash away from Peter Murphy and skim over a cross for the undetected Tommy Rowe to stroke home.
Carlisle were obliged to respond to this swift setback but, beyond a Murphy free-kick and some hesitant passing play, it was Ferguson’s buccaneers who continued to prevail on their patchy, bouncy pitch; their ball-retention and movement too intelligent by a distance for their guests.
One breakneck surge saw McCann play Lee Tomlin through to test Collin. Mackail-Smith then shot wide when superbly placed. Rowe and Charlie Lee blew further chances before the second goal finally arrived: McCann to Mark Little, then a Lee cross which Mackail-Smith nodded home, having brushed past the slumbering Frank Simek.
When United earned a corner in the 28th minute it felt like a matter for extravagant celebration.
And when Ryan Bennett’s tug on Francois Zoko’s shirt in the box moments later went unspotted by ref Trevor Kettle, Abbott’s touchline temperature justifiably boiled.
Soon enough, though, Posh resumed their raids.
In one beautiful movement, Boyd pirouetted, skinned Simek and had a cross cleared. Upfield, Craig Curran gave Tom Taiwo an earful after a misplaced pass, then argued his way into Kettle’s notebook after a foul. Boyd duly glided through for Peterborough’s third, which the sliding Murphy was unable to stop trickling over the line.
Before the half was through, Cooper was booked for a late challenge on Mackail-Smith. After the interval, Joe Lewis tipped over a Murphy header, Mackail-Smith shot wide, and then Simek pushed the blond raider in the box and conceded spot-kick number one. Collin dived to tip away McCann’s 12-yard attempt, and Carlisle’s goal difference was momentarily spared another assault.
Down by the technical areas, Abbott and Ferguson swapped a couple of angry opinions.
Inside the white perimeter, Mackail-Smith had another goal wiped off for offside, Lewis scooped up a Harry Arter header, and then the Bournemouth loanee plummeted, holding his face, after a Little grapple: an act which did not warm Arter to the home audience thereafter.
We duly witnessed Cooper’s banishment (Boyd seemed to be heading for the turf before he collided with the defender), another McCann close shave, a near miss from substitute Arron Davies, further wasted openings from fellow replacements David Ball and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, and then, finally, the fourth, lashed in by Bennett after Tomlin’s shot was blocked.
Carlisle, operating with three defenders since losing Cooper, swiftly conceded again when Mendez-Laing’s cross was volleyed in by Boyd. Ball, who had drawn a fine save from Collin, then brought up the half-dozen in the last minute before one final Boyd dash drew challenges from Taiwo and Collin, another soft penalty, and that rare glimpse of Boyd fallibility from the spot.
By then United had lost Ben Marshall to injury and were forced to get by in the closing stages with unproven subs like Nahki Wells and Paddy Madden: youngsters whose earnest efforts were gobbled up by sturdy operators like Bennett and Gabriel Zakuani.
The Blues improved noticeably after going down to 10 men against Hartlepool four days earlier but trying to hold back Peterborough’s blue force a man short is not recommended.
“The whole of the dressing room, from me down to the kitman, must take some responsibility,” said Abbott at the end of this howling mismatch.
From this we can conclude that Colin Nixon must have misfolded the shirts, laid out the pre-match cones in the wrong shape, or neglected to slip some laxatives into George Boyd’s pre-match drink.
ADAM COLLIN - Thwarted McCann from the spot and other sharp saves prevented further humiliation.
FRANK SIMEK - Asleep for Posh’s second goal and part of a back line bamboozled by rapid opponents.
MATTY ROBSON - Never looked like containing hosts’ advances down the right and hardly able to get forward all game.
LIAM COOPER - Tortured by Boyd and co until his sending-off. Second yellow harsh but this was a nightmare afternoon.
PETER MURPHY - Came closest to scoring but struggled to get a handle on Mackail-Smith and Tomlin.
TOM TAIWO - Wasn’t lacking for effort but couldn’t exert any lasting influence against superior midfield.
JAMES BERRETT - Tried to bring a steady hand to United’s work but was too often outmanoeuvred by McCann and colleagues.
HARRY ARTER - On his full debut, the Bournemouth man suffered badly in comparison to his sharper opponents.
BEN MARSHALL - Couldn’t find any inspiration to peg back Posh and departed to a late knock.
FRANCOIS ZOKO - Should have been awarded a penalty but was otherwise dealt with comfortably by defenders.
CRAIG CURRAN - Cut a highly frustrated figure throughout and argued his way into the book.
Subs: Paddy Madden (for Zoko 57) – Tough task for Irish youngster; Rory Loy (for Arter 71) – Never in the game; Nahki Wells (for Marshall 89) – Replaced injured colleague. Not used: Tony Caig, Paul Thirlwell, Steven Swinglehurst.
Booked: Curran, Cooper, Berrett. Sent off: Cooper
Peterborough United: Lewis, Little, Kennedy, Zakuani, Bennett, Lee (Davies 69), McCann, Rowe (Mendez-Laing 72), Tomlin, Boyd, Mackail-Smith (Ball 69). Not used: Jones, Langmead, Wesolowski, Basey.
Goals: Rowe 2, Mackail-Smith 24, Boyd 45, 83; Bennett 77, Ball 90
Ref: Trevor Kettle (Berkshire)
Crowd: 6,467 (385 Carlisle fans)
First published at 11:29, Monday, 14 March 2011
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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