Cambridge United hit for five against Peterborough United in derby day horror show at The Weston Homes Stadium
Three goals in the space of six first half minutes was enough to condemn Cambridge United to a heavy derby day defeat at local rivals Peterborough United.
The U’s were beaten 5-0 after the Posh killed any hope of a revival from Mark Bonner’s side nine minutes into the second half, when Kwame Poku tapped home and Liam Bennett then glanced the ball into his own net late on in the match.
But the game was all but over after a disastrous six minute spell in the first 45, which started with a brace from Ephron Clark-Harris who popped up twice at the back post to put the hosts into dreamland.
A third was wrapped up by a deflected effort from Poku – who ran the U’s defence ragged all game – on a day to forget for Bonner and his side.
The U’s boss named three changes from the side that progressed to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup against Bracknell Town on Saturday.
James Brophy, George Thomas and Saikou Janneh all came into the starting line-up with Jordan Cousins, Sullay Kaikai and John-Kymani Gordon dropping out of what was only a 17-man squad.
Cousins and Kaikai missed the trip to The Weston Homes Stadium as Elias Kachunga returned to the bench after six weeks out with an injury he picked up against Derby County at Pride Park.
As for the hosts, Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson named two changes from his side’s 2-1 defeat at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.
Jadel Katongo and David Ajiboye made way for Joel Randall and Archie Collins.
The cauldron of noise created before kick-off by two teams ready to go to battle was followed by a moment of unity, as The Last Post serenaded The Weston Homes Stadium which was followed by a two minutes silence.
In the opening 10 minutes, Cambridge were happy to let Posh have the ball at the back while looking to pounce on a loose pass. The press was led by Paul Digby as had been the case over the last few weeks.
The U’s kept a resolute shape and forced Posh to try their luck from range which yielded the first attempt on target of the afternoon – as Harrison Edwards’ low and tame left footed effort was comfortably stopped by Jack Stevens.
A lot of the joy that Cambridge had in the first half came down the right side and Digby found himself in behind to win a corner that led to the visitors’ first shot on target of the derby.
George Thomas’ high-hanging delivery was met by a looping header from Ryan Bennett, but the ball came down just in time for Nicholas Bilokapic to claim.
Mark Bonner would have been pretty content from what he saw from his side in the opening half an hour. They starved Peterborough of any clear-cut chances and calved out a few openings on the counter attack.
But Cambridge were about to be blown away by three goals in the space of six minutes that ultimately decided the contest.
Pouku jinked inside on the right and whipped in a wicked ball to the back post, where Mason-Clark stooped to head home past a helpless Stevens.
The home crowd had their tails up and were pushing their side to mount more attacks and the advantage was doubled just three minutes later when Mason-Clark netted his second of the game.
Again the move came down the right as Rickey-Jade Jones was played through after a nice interchange involving Poku and Hector Kyprianou.
The home side’s number 17 fizzed in a low cross to the back post where Mason Clark lurked again to slide in and pile more misery on Bonner’s men.
While the cliché of ‘just get to half-time’ would have been ringing in U’s fans’ minds, their rivals were not showing any sings of stopping. Poku found more joy from Danny Andrew down the right to cut onto his left and unleash an effort that deflected past a diving Stevens.
Six minutes earlier, the U’s would have fancied themselves to get into the break with the derby goalless and aim to capitalise on the hosts’ frustration.
Six minutes later, the game was beyond them.
Although the home crowd roared at the sound of the half-time whistle, the boos from the away end were loud enough for Bonner to hear as he headed down the tunnel.
The U’s head coach did not roll the dice with any half-time changes as both bosses sent out the same 11 for the start of the second half.
While the U’s started the second 45 with a few attacks into the Peterborough penalty area, the hosts killed any optimism that Cambridge had left just nine minutes after the restart.
A U’s corner was cleared and won mid-way inside his own half by Collins who broke with options left and right. He opted with the former to slot Kyprianou through, who unselfishly squared the ball to Poku to score his second and the hosts’ fourth.
Cambridge’s frustration was embodied in skipper Michael Morrison’s clearance straight into the home crowd when he had time to compose himself mid-way through the second half.
The U’s looked stunned every time Peterborough threatened to add to their tally and Bonner looked for inspiration from the bench just after the hour mark.
Aahadme and Gordon were sent on for Thomas and Janneh.
So is the case with high scoring first halves, the second always seems to peter out. The U’s were starved of creativity as Peterborough knocked the ball around to the sarcastic jeers from the home fans.
Substitute John-Kymani Gordon came closest to giving the U’s faithful something to shout about with 10 minutes to go, as his right footed strike arrowed towards the bottom corner from outside the box but his effort was parried away by Bilokapic with relative ease.
A nightmare day and performance was capped off with four minutes of normal time left as Joel Randall’s effort from the edge of the box glanced off the head of Liam Bennett and past the dive of Stevens.
The U’s defender’s blushes were increased as he was then immediately substituted for Brandon Haunstrup.
A day to forget for Bonner and Cambridge as they remain 16th in the table before the 3pm kick-offs.
Peterborough United: Bilokapic, Burrows, Edwards, Knight, Mason-Clark, Poku (Ajiboye 85’), Randall, Jones (Wakeling 85’), Kyprianou, Collins, Kioso (Katongo 67’)(cpt).
Unused substitutes: Talley, Crichlow, Havilland, Clark-Harris.
Cambridge United: Stevens, L. Bennett (Haunstrup 87’), Andrew, Digby, Morrison (cpt), R. Bennett, Brophy (Kachunga 79’), Thomas (Ahadme 64’), Okenabirhie, Janneh (Gordon 64’), May.
Unused substitutes: Mannion, Okedina.