Peterborough 4-0 Sheff Wednesday: Hosts take huge lead in semi-final
Peterborough 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Hosts take a commanding lead in the League One play-off semi-final after victory in the first leg, as Darren Ferguson’s side hit FOUR past the Owls
- Peterborough stormed into a lead in the League One play-off semi-final first leg
- Jack Taylor, Joe Ward, Kwame Poku and Jonson Clarke-Harris were all on target
- Former Sheffield Wednesday star Tommy Spurr opens up on son’s cancer battle
Play-off season started with a jolt, a reminder if needed of the jeopardy that fuels this thrilling spring spectacle as Sheffield Wednesday proved 96 points across the League One campaign counts for zero when the nerves start to jangle.
Darren Moore’s Owls finished 19 points clear of Peterborough but last night Darren Ferguson’s team dismantled them to the delight of a packed Weston Homes Stadium, galloping into a 3-0 lead in the first 50 minutes of the first leg.
‘A bad night,’ said Moore, with an element of understatement. ‘We’re all disappointed and it’s hard to find the right words. It’s a huge task from here but all we can do now is to reflect on the game, regroup and get ready for next week.’
Jack Taylor, Joe Ward, Kwame Poku and Jonson Clarke-Harris scored the goals and, although they had to resist some late pressure as Wednesday belatedly found some momentum, the home fans went home singing of Wembley and a return to the Championship.
They simply have to avoid a disaster in the second leg in Sheffield on Thursday and beat Bolton or Barnsley at Wembley. And they trust in Ferguson, son of Sir Alex, and a promotion expert of some repute in these parts.
Jack Taylor wheels away in celebration after scoring for Peterborough in the play-off semi-final
The League One side have stormed into an early advantage in the two-legged encounter
Joe Ward (pictured) scored the Posh’s second of the night doubling the lead after 36 minutes
Ferguson is in his fourth spell as Peterborough manager and been promoted at least once in each of his previous three. He has his eyes on what would be a fifth promotion with the club, and a sixth in total, having also taken Doncaster Rovers up.
‘It was a top performance and you need that to get through the play-offs,’ said Ferguson. ‘I’m absolutely delighted with them, ecstatic. It was a good performance all over the pitch, attacking and defending and our reward is the goals.’
PETERBOROUGH VS SHEFF WEDS MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Peterborough (4-2-3-1): Norris 6.5; Ward 7.5, Kent 7, Edwards 7, Burrows 7; Kyprianou 7, Norburn 7.5; Poku 7.5, Taylor 8.5, Mason-Clark 7 (Jone 90+4); Clark-Harris 7.5.
Subs: Blackmore, Butler, Knight, Jones, Thompson, Randall, Tshimanga
Goals: Taylor 19, Ward 36, Poku 50, Clarke-Harris 82
Bookings: Kent, Poku
Manager: Darren Ferguson 7
Sheff Weds (3-4-2-1): Dawson 5; Iorfa 5, Flint 5, Ihiekwe 5 (James 86); Palmer 5, Vaulks 5, Bannan 5, Johnson 5; Paterson 5 (Gregory 58, 6), Windass 6; Smith 5 (Adeniran, 62, 6).
Subs: Stockdale, Dele-Bashiru, Bakinson, Hunt
Bookings: Flint, Ihiekwe,
Manager: Darren Moore 5
Referee: Anthony Backhouse 6
The first came with the help of a goalkeeping error, the second with a deflection and the third and fourth on the counter-attack as the ragged Owls over-committed in desperate search of a way back and yet Wednesday could have no complaints.
Once behind they performed as if paralysed by dread. As if, having set the pace in League One for so long and amassed a 23-match unbeaten run, they should not be in the play-offs and they feared the worst.
Peterborough, once ahead, simmered with energy and purpose, seizing this chance after a late run to finish sixth in the table.
Wednesday might have taken an early lead when Oliver Norburn slipped in possession and Michael Smith broke clean through but could not beat goalkeeper Will Norris, then were punished for an error by their own ‘keeper Cameron Dawson, who allowed a routine shot to squirm through his clutches and in at his near post.
The second was a screamer from Ward, who advanced in generous space as he joined an attack from right back and unleashed a fierce drive that clipped Marvin Johnson on the shoulders as he turned his back, swerved, dipped and left Dawson grasping at air.
It was a seventh goal of the season for the long-serving defender, out of contract at the end of the season and not expected to be short of offers. The Posh fans rejoiced, reminding the visitors in uncomplimentary fashion of how they were top of the league and messed it up.
Norris denied Windass before the interval and Michael Ihiekwe headed wide soon after the restart but Peterborough made it 3-0 on a swift break launched by the outstanding Taylor.
Kwame Poku (11) is surrounded by his team-mates after finding the back of the net in the game
Jonson Clarke-Harris (left) completed the rout with Peterborough’s fourth of the match
Darren Moore’s Sheffield Wednesday managed 96 points during the season but have it all to do in the second leg
The Owls had only conceded four in a game once all season before Friday’s semi-final first leg
Aden Flint cut out the first foray but they quickly recycled the ball to Ephron Mason-Clark, wide on the left. Mason-Clark lifted a cross to the back post where Poku arrived alone to head in.
Moore sent on centre-forward Lee Gregory, complete with the mask fitted to protect a cheekbone fractured in training and, finally exerted a period of pressure, with scrambles in the goalmouth and an appeal for handball as Peterborough threw bodies in the line of fire.
But they were sunk by the fourth. Dawson made a fine reflex save to push an effort by Taylor onto a post but, once again, the home side were quick to gather the rebound and produce another ball into the penalty box.
This time it found top-scorer Clarke-Harris climbing high above defenders at the back post to score his 29th of the season. Another clattered around the corrugated roofs and Sheffield Wednesday supporters made for the exits. Those who stayed behind did so to make their feelings clear to Moore and his players.
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