Peterborough United were without six first teamers and lost Nathaniel Mendez-Laing to injury early in the first half, but produced a superb performance at Valley Parade to earn a 1-0 victory over Bradford City.
Darren Ferguson was forced into numerous changes ahead of kick-off with Kgosi Ntlhe, Jon Taylor and Michael Smith all missing out, the latter dropping down to the substitute’s bench due to a knock. Three members of Dave Robertson’s under 18 squad, Ollie Luto, Jonathan Edwards and Harry Anderson were named on the bench.
Posh forced two early corner kicks and saw a drive from distance by Jermaine Anderson blocked in a bright early passage of play. Mason Bennett fired wide on the volley after a free-kick from Alan Sheehan was only half cleared by the Posh defence.
Conor Washington fired over from just inside the penalty area after an intelligent lay-off from Anderson on nine minutes. Washington was presented with a better chance on the quarter hour mark as Mendez-Laing fed him in the channel, but his fierce drive was beaten away by Jordan Pickford.
Kane Ferdinand dragged a shot well wide of the near post moments later after cutting inside from the right before Posh were dealt another blow on the injury front as Mendez-Laing limped out of proceedings. He was replaced by Michael Smith.
A combination of Santos and Burgess struck the post from a corner kick before Santos glanced a Newell cross wide of the target as Posh came desperately close to the breakthrough three minutes before the break.
Deep into two minutes of added time, (the fourth to be exact), goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was called upon to beat away a drive from Knott before the Bantams faithful, extremely disappointed already with the official’s performance, appealed in vain for a handball. Referee Mr Salisbury was unmoved and soon blew for half-time.
Posh had defended well in that first 45 minutes and caused problems on the counter attack so Darren Ferguson would have been reasonably pleased with his patched up side.
Michael Smith couldn’t control a half volley when well positioned on 49 minutes after good work in the build-up from Santos and Ferdinand. Alnwick denied James Hanson’s low effort from the edge of the box moments later.
There was a lengthy stoppage 10 minutes into the second half as Davies was clattered by his own goalkeeper Pickford. Doctors and medics ran onto the pitch to deal with the central defender who was clearly in a lot of discomfort. Thankfully for the Bradford man he was able to walk off the pitch, clearly dazed, but able to applaud the home faithful for their support.
The deadlock was broken on 58 minutes and it was very calmly taken by Kyle VASSELL who netted his fourth goal of the campaign with a right-foot finish into the corner after good work initially from Brisley and then from Northern Irishman Smith down the left.
Shaun Brisley, like Jack Baldwin at Rochdale on the opening day, was forced off the field to receive stitches in a facial wound, leaving Posh with 10-men for several minutes. He came back after five minutes sporting a Terry Butcher style bandage.
Bantams boss Phil Parkinson made a double switch on 68 minutes with Aaron Mclean and Mark Yeates introduced. Newell saw an effort tipped over by Pickford by the near post before Vassell curled a free-kick over the bar after Newell had been felled on the edge of the box.
Posh made a double change on 83 minutes with Joe Newell and Kyle Vassell replaced, the former booked for the time it took for him to come off the field. Grant McCann and Tyrone Barnett were the men introduced.
Aaron Mclean saw a header routinely gathered by Alnwick on 86 minutes following a tame cross into the box. Nine minutes was quite rightly added in stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes by the fourth official.
Yeates poked over from close-range after a long throw caused a few problems deep into the stoppage time.
Full-Time: Bradford City 0-1 Posh
Posh: Alnwick, Brisley, Santos, Burgess, Ferdinand, Newell (sub McCann 83min), Anderson, Payne, Mendez-Laing (sub Smith 17 min), Vassell (sub Barnett 82min), Washington. Unused subs: Day, Luto, Edwards, H. Anderson.
Bradford City: Pickford, Darby, Davies (sub Meredith 55min), Sheehan, Liddle, Hanson, Knott, Kennedy, Morais (sub Yeates 68min), McArdle, Bennett (sub Mclean 68min). Unused subs: Williams, Dolan, Routis, McBurnie.
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 13,546 (460 Posh fans)