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Posh 1-1 Sunderland: Five Talking Points

Peterborough United suffer late blow at The Weston Homes Stadium after Aiden McGeady’s late stunner prevented Darren Ferguson’s men from picking up a vital three points in their race for automatic promotion.
Posh -Burton
Peterborough drew with Sunderland 1-1. Photo: Nick Reinis

With both sides trying to avoid a loss, the first half could only be described as scrappy, with the blustery wind affecting a quiet first half.

However, the game came alive in the second half, notably when Ferguson introduced Siriki Dembele and Reece Brown, with the former giving Posh the lead after he slotted a left-footed effort past Lee Burge.

Posh had the opportunities to extend their advantage but was dealt a massive blow in the final 10 minutes when Aiden McGeady fired a stunning free-kick past Christy Pym to salvage a point for Sunderland.

The point keeps Posh in the automatic places, two points ahead of Sunderland, but lost ground on league leaders Hull City after their 2-0 victory on Monday afternoon.

Here are my talking points from the shared points at The Weston Homes Stadium:

A half of two tales

With the game set to have major ramifications for both sides' promotion hopes, it was understandable to see a slow start to the game, with neither side failing to create any chances in the opening quarter of an hour.

Sunderland started the game brightly and went close through McGeady when he cut inside, but his curling effort was headed away by Mark Beevers, while Jordan Jones continued to cause mayhem on the left-hand side.

However, Posh grew into the game, especially at the half-hour mark, and arguably went the closest when Harrison Burrow’s low cross was cushioned back towards his own goal by a defender which forced Burge to quickly intercept.

Despite Ferguson’s side slow start to the first half, they certainly had the better of the chances and just needed a bit of composure in those scenarios, in which they paid the price late in the second half.

High Five to Darren Ferguson’s substitutions

It was a game lacking real quality in the final third for both sides, until the 66th minute when Dembele gave Posh a crucial lead. However, praise should go to Nathan Thompson, who cut inside before squeezing the ball through to Dembele, who fired across the keeper from six yards out to break the deadlock midway through the second period. 

The winger was only brought on 10 minutes before the goal and instantly influenced the game, getting the ball into the box and causing a few problems before notching Posh in front. Ferguson also brought on Reece Brown, and while he failed to make a massive impact like Dembele, he had quite an influence on the game, stopping any passages coming through Sunderland’s midfield two.

The plaudits have to be given to Ferguson for making those substitutions at the time in the game, which saw Sunderland growing in confidence, but Dembele and Brown's introductions put Posh in control and gave them a well-deserved lead.

Just how fast is Joe Ward?

If there was one thing we learnt throughout that 90 minutes, it was how extremely fast Joe Ward actually is, and of course his quality.

As the game grew in the second half, it was evident that the right-hand side was the way for Posh to exploit Sunderland, with Ward bombing down the wings on numerous occasions. However, Ward’s teammates didn’t make it easy for him, constantly over-hitting the ball which forced the winger to get his running boots on, but he was able to keep them on and turned Callum McFadzean inside out a few times, who was later substituted off by Lee Johnson.

Ward also presented Szmodics with a huge opportunity when the scores were level, after nutmegging McFadzean before cutting inside to squeeze a ball through to Szmodics, but he dinked his shot well wide. Whenever Posh were threatening Sunderland’s backline, it was usually through Ward and probably felt his teammates should have added to his 12 assists so far in League One this season.

An up and down return for Jack Taylor

When the line-ups were announced at 2pm, eyes were quickly fixed on Jack Taylor’s return to the starting eleven after missing the last nine League One games, which saw Posh drop in form.

Ferguson said ahead of the game that Taylor was an ‘important player’ and a few moments in the first half reflected that. The midfielder though struggled in the opening stages against Sunderland’s experienced midfield pairing, Taylor showed calmness and composure to turn on the edge of his box, despite being under pressure, and nearly picked out Joe Ward with a cute lofted ball.

Moments later, Taylor used his quality to clip a ball over to Szmodics inside the box, completely free, but he failed to convert on a crucial opportunity. However, his fatigue and lack of game time became evident in the second, notably in the final 10 minutes, after he was picked out of possession and had to concede a free kick on the edge of the box that Aiden McGeady stunningly converted. Although questions will be asked on Christy Pym, it was a preventable scenario that Taylor would have dealt with if he was fully fit.

Not the end of the world for Posh

It was ultimately two points dropped for Posh after taking the lead in the 66th minute, but as Mark Beevers said in his post-match interview on Sky, they can’t be disappointed in picking up a point against a fellow promotion rival.

While league leaders Hull City gained ground on Posh after beating Northampton Town two-nil, Ferguson’s men prevented Sunderland from leapfrogging them into the automatic play-off places. Plus, they should still feel confident catching The Tigers, especially when Grant McCann's men face Sunderland and Lincoln City in the final weeks.

The Posh players are likely to feel disappointed not to extend their advantage after going one-nil up. Nevertheless, there are still eight games to go, including the majority of those at the Weston Homes Stadium, so you would still pin Posh as favourites to seal automatic promotion.