17th December 1988
Barclays League Division Four
Posh didn't find much to smile about in script
POSH 0, EXETER 1
by Andrew James
POSH began their festive programme with a pantomime performance against Exeter City on Saturday and a Steve Neville punchline nobody found amusing The game cried out for the Posh Fairy Godmother. But there was to be no happy ending, as Posh's answer to Dopey, Sleepy and Silly left manager Jones feeling decidedly Grumpy! What angered the audience most was their heroes' apparent reluctance to triumph over evil. Lacklustre from start to finish, Posh left Exeter boss Terry Cooper in wonderland as he celebrated a rare away success. The Devonians had only one previous away victory to their name and the former Leeds and England full-back confessed: "I still can't believe that we got away with it. I expected Peterborough to come up with some sort of onslaught. But it just never happened, said Cooper. Too right it didn't. Indeed the Egg Marketing board sending Edwina Currie would have been more plausible.
This was Posh at their poorest. And that's not a cynical snipe from the comforts of the Press Box, but the views of Posh management pair Mick Jones and Tommy Robson. For with the cries of what a load of rubbish' still ringing in his ears, Posh chief Jones pledged action and apologised to the fans. When I heard those chants I looked at Tommy and we both knew the fans were right," he said. "That was the worst game I've seen this season and I've seen some bad ones. So it makes it even worse that we got such a fantastic gate of over 3,000, on the last Saturday be- fore Christmas." added Jones. The Posh boss appeared particularly incensed at the attitude of some key characters, Sadly for the crowd, that failing was matched by a disturbing lack of awareness of the plot in other areas. For not only did the points go West, but so did all the good things that have held Posh together since their Summer re-shuffle. Gone was the fighting spirit. Gone was the resolute defending. And gone was the eye for goal that has bailed Posh out of trouble on more than one occassion already this term. Nick Cusack who now faces a two-match New Year ban after collecting his seventh caution of the campaign denied himself a tenth goal of the season as the referee spotted a a touch of the Maradon na's in the build up to his 15th minute strike. Man of the match Steve Collins was a little unlucky to receive his 21st minute caution. Not that his challenge on experienced campaigner Steve Neville should have gone unpunished. But with the Posh defence caught completely square on the hallway line. Co s was placed in a 'do or die' quandry as the failings of others forced him to upend the goal-bound striker. A Cusack header and some trickery-from Craig Goldsmith was all that Posh could offer against an Exeter side who clearly had troubles of their own. Injuries forced man- ager Terry Cooper to field several juniors and the very senior Tommy Langley. But on the hour, Posh were left in tatters by Steve Neville’s match winning goal, a crisply driven half-volley from a pass by midfield general, Scott Hiley. Injury to Gerry McElhinney, a suspected broken nose and concussion, then forced Posh into a substitution. The crowd, however appeared less than happy as Posh went for a double replacing McElhinney with Carl Madrick and debutant Lee Philpott with Gerry Butterworth, a switch that provoked enough boos and hisses to keep the Ugly Sisters in a job for life. Two late free kicks and a last ditch corner brought a sense of urgency to Posh that belied their earlier complacency. But it was a little too late.
There is no doubt that Posh can come back and prove that all will be happy ever after. But on this showing, there may yet be no happy ending.
Peterborough 0 Exeter 1
Crichton, Collins, Gunn, Langan, McElhinney, Oakes, Philpott, Halsall, Cusack, Longhurst, Goldsmith. Subs: Madrick (Oakes 75 mins), Butterworth (Philpott 75 mins)
Walter, Banks, Batty, Rogers, Taylor, Cooper, Rowbotham, Hiley, Vinnicombe, Neville, Langley. Subs: Harris, Hawkins (not used).
Referee: TJ Holbrook (Walsall).
Peterborough- Collins and Cusack.