Peterborough United 1 Leicester City 5
ABAX Stadium Emirates FA Cup – 27th January 2018
Report by Colin Murrant
So many times have visits to POSH ended in disappointment, usually with the home team taking initiative and the game to City. This time it was so different with City immediately getting into their stride and being out of sight by the half hour mark. The match was not the only improvement as those City fans in the Motorpoint Stand behind the goal experienced a comfortable stand with top class facilities. A far cry from the abomination of a stand the new one replaced, although the City fans situated in the wing stand still had uncomfortable seats with poor facilities.
City made several changes but with a stronger team than was sent out at Fleetwood. With Hamer in goal, and an experienced back four, a midfield hub of Iborra and Silva, and starts for Iheanacho and debutant Fousseni Diabaté. The bench was packed solid with the insurance of the top guns including Mahrez, Vardy; also, Robert Huth was in the squad for the first time this season.
City kicked off defending the end where their fans were situated; the pitch was in good condition but the wind was swirling around the stadium. City were fast out of the traps playing some crisp inter-passing, and combined with Peterborough’s inability to retain possession, it was not a surprise that City took an early lead.
As early as six minutes Iheanacho had gone close, and in the seventh minute a casual clearance from Hamer rebounded off Marriott for a goal kick. A minute later and a short ball by Silva into the feet of Diabaté, excellent close control took him clear of two defenders and his early left foot shot found the far corner of the net. This was after 9 minutes and three minutes later City were comfortably in the lead. A poor back pass from Forrester was picked up by Iheanacho who, from the edge of the box, curled a 20 yarder into the same bottom corner.
Then came the third and best goal of the match. Again Diabaté was involved, holding up the ball and then sending a reverse pass to Fuchs who sent in a superb cross from the left wing which Iheanacho met on the penalty spot to volley into the roof of the net. This was after 29 minutes and the game was effectively over.
Peterborough had one chance in the first half when a cross came across goal with two players trying desperately to get something on the ball, neither manged to and David Lloyd injured himself by colliding with the post.
The second half started with POSH on the offensive, clearly they had nothing to lose and they were having a go. City were sluggish, as if the job was done. Forrester was prominent at this stage spraying passes either side as POSH won several corners. From one Maddison corner in the 57th minute, Taylor, unchallenged by Benalouane, knocked down for Hughes to fire home although the ball appeared to be deflected by a City defender to leave Hamer stranded. With it went the chance for City to keep a clean sheet for 6 matches running, equalling a record about 100 years old.
Was this to be the catalyst for POSH? Puel did not wait long before he substituted Barnes and Iborra who had been booked in the first half for Albrighton and Ndidi. This was to be the turning point as City grasped the initiative again. In the 67th minute Gray squared to Diabaté who stepped over the ball on the edge of the box before launching a fierce left foot strike which Bond in the POSH goal did well to push wide. It was all City and Fuchs set Albrighton up for a 25-yard strike that just cleared the bar.
On the 87th minute the job was done, Gray, who had a few shots straight at the keeper, ran through the middle and shot. This time Bond saved again but the ball went to the corner of the 6-yard box and straight to Diabaté who hit the ball firmly into the roof of the net.
Deep into injury time and Albrighton sent Diabaté on his way down City’s right flank. He got to the box and stopped as he was met by two defenders, then with lightening feet he beat both, pulled the ball back to the penalty spot where Ndidi was there to hit the ball into the back of the net.
A great performance and the feeling that a great transition is in place. Now you cannot get carried away against Division 1 opposition but neither can you deny the talents in this young team. Silva is beginning to look the classy player we have anticipated, apart from a couple of loose passes he was majestic.
But the emergence of the young guns is so exciting. Not ignoring Barnes, who is showing glimpses of what he is capable of, Chilwell who is improving, Gray who is still enigmatic, and the wonderful Maguire; we now have Fousseni Diabaté, Kelechi Promise Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi.
Ndidi is reaching almost cult status with his energy, tackling, interceptions and the odd goal. Iheanacho is beginning to show the promise (pun intended) that he showed at Manchester City, wonderful what a couple of goals can do for the confidence; perhaps surprised he was substituted with a hat-trick in the offing: maybe he will play a part at Everton on Wednesday and is being saved.
But have city unearthed another gem in Fousseni Diabate. It is always wrong to judge someone on one performance, but two goals, two assists, great close control, a willingness to work, and speed in abundance suggest there is plenty more to come. Schlupp and DoDoo in recent years have debuted with hat-tricks but neither were as good as this performance.
Watching Yeovil, the night before, and POSH today, left me wondering if the day of regular giant killings is past, there will be occasional ones of course. But better pitches, and clamp down on tackling, means that the underdogs do not have the advantages they previously had. Also, the bigger clubs’ squads are now stronger.
It was refreshing to see Puel rest players but still put out a decent midfield; perhaps he learnt from Fleetwood.
When we last played POSH in the league we were both going for promotion in Division One; just how far have we come from then.
So on to round 5 and the last sixteen, we’re on our way, with Claude Puel, we’re on our way!
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard, Andrew Hughes, Steven Taylor, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant, Chris Forrester, Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Junior Morias, 61 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Andrea Borg, 87 mins), Danny Lloyd (sub Idris Kanu, 80 mins), Jack Marriott. Unused subs: Conor O’Malley, Alex Penny, Jack Baldwin, Michael Doughty.
Leicester: Ben Hamer, Danny Simpson, Harry Maguire, Yohan Benalouane, Christian Fuchs, Adrien Silva, Vicente Iborra (sub Marc Albrighton, 64 mins), Fousseni Diabaté, Demarai Gray, Harvey Barnes (sub Wilfred Ndidi, 64 mins), Kelechi Iheanacho (sub Ben Chilwell, 80 mins).
Unused subs: Eldin Jakupović, Robert Huth, Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy.
Referee: Michael Oliver Attendance: 13,193 (3,999 Leicester).
Posh – Hughes (57 mins).
Leicester – Diabaté (7 mins & 87 mins), Iheanacho (12 mins & 29 mins). Ndidi (90 mins)
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation