Peterborough 4-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Posh put one foot in play-off final
Peterborough have one foot in the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley after they eased past Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 at the Weston Homes Stadium.
Goals from Jack Taylor, Joe Ward, Kwame Poku and Jonson Clarke-Harris sent the home fans into hysteria ahead of Thursday’s return leg at Hillsborough.
Posh – who saw Darren Ferguson return for a fourth stint as manager at the start of the year – were delirious after sealing the last play-off spot as they leapfrogged Derby on the final day and they are in dreamland once again after blowing the visitors away in the first leg.
And it could be another fairytale finish to the season for Ferguson who has steered the club to the Championship on three separate occasions as well as a League Two promotion.
Darren Moore’s Sheffield Wednesday were gutted to only be in the play-offs after securing a club record 96-point haul.
They now hold the unwanted record of the highest points total ever to miss out on automatic promotion in the Football League.
A dismal run of just four points from a possible 24 heading towards the run-in cost them dear.
And the Owls, who missed out on a return to the Championship after play-off heartache to Sunderland last season, were the architects of their own downfall once again.
Moore’s charges have an absolute mountain to climb to keep their dreams of a second-tier return alive.
The visitors had the first real chance of the encounter as Michael Smith got in behind but Will Norris came out on top with a good save.
It was a mistake from Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson which opened the floodgates for free-flowing Posh.
There was an initial poor clearance which fell to Taylor as he fired home a shot which inexplicably crept under Dawson in the 20th minute.
And things went from bad to worse as a wicked deflection doubled the hosts’ lead 16 minutes later.
It was a good strike from Ward, but was ultimately flying wide before it took a big deflection which allowed the ball to dip up and over Dawson off the underside of the crossbar.
Wednesday had a couple of big chances to cut the deficit before the break.
They both fell to Josh Windass, who was first thwarted by a good Norris save before he headed over the target.
Moore’s side missed another glaring opportunity when Michael Ihiekwe nodded a teasing Barry Bannan cross wide.
And they were instantly made to pay as unmarked Poku headed home – his sixth goal of the season – as Posh flew into a 3-0 lead.
The Owls were unlucky not to get a penalty when Marvin Johnson’s strike hit Ronnie Edwards’ elbow, but the referee waved away huge appeals from the on-rushing Wednesday players before Ihiekwe’s effort from the resultant corner was cleared off the line.
And with 15 minutes to go, the former Rotherham man saw a second strike hacked off the line as Wednesday’s night followed a similar tone.
Clarke-Harris hit his 29th goal of the campaign as he easily nodded home at the back post after Taylor chipped the ball up at the back post after he was denied by Dawson.
It could have been even more had it not been for a late Dawson save.