Boss pledges new U's next term

PETERBOROUGH United wrapped up promotion to the Championship this afternoon, after inflicting yet another home defeat on Colchester.

Colchester United 0 Peterborough United 1

PETERBOROUGH United wrapped up promotion to the Championship this afternoon, after inflicting yet another home defeat on Colchester.

Posh's narrow win, coupled with MK Dons' defeat to Walsall, meant that the London Road club were safe in the second automatic spot with just one game remaining.

Charlie Lee popped up with the all-important goal in the 40th minute, to seal their 12th away win of the campaign, and more crucially a second successive promotion.


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Lee was in acres of space following man-of-the-match George Boyd's lay-off, and the former Tottenham trainee gave Dean Gerken no chance with a thumping left-footed shot that flew into the roof of the net.

Gerken was in fact the U's man-of-the-match. He kept a marauding Posh side at bay with a string of impressive saves, especially in the second half as Darren Ferguson's side searched in vain for a killer second goal.

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It was a disappointing end to a disappointing home campaign for the U's - they won just seven of their 24 league and cup games at their new Community Stadium.

And a spate of injuries meant that U's boss Paul Lambert could name just four substitutes this afternoon.

Gerken prevented Posh from taking the lead within four minutes. Left-back Charlie Lee, a former Tottenham trainee, breezed past three Colchester defenders to move menacingly into the box. However, he could not squeeze his shot past the advancing Gerken, who blocked with his body.

The visitors earned five corners inside the first 12 minutes. Craig Mackail-Smith swept home into an empty net from the fourth one, although the ball had already drifted out of play, while big centre-half Craig Morgan headed the fifth corner over the bar.

United were in danger of being over-run, although they began to have some joy in the Peterborough half of the pitch midway through the first period. Mark Yeates drilled an angled shot into the side-netting, and Mark Tierney headed narrowly wide from John White's cross on 20 minutes.

Tierney, a natural left-back, was operating in central midfield. That was due to the absence of Dean Hammond (suspended), David Perkins and Johnnie Jackson (both injured). At least Hammond was on the pitch before kick-off to receive his player-of-the-year trophies.

The U's nearly broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark. Simon Hackney burst through on goal and had just keeper Joe Lewis to beat, but he pulled his shot a foot wide of the far post from a narrow angle.

But it was Peterborough who finally took the lead, thanks to LEE's lethal finish from Boyd's lay-off on 40 minutes.

And the visitors nearly doubled their lead a minute before half-time. Mackail-Smith looked suspiciously offside as he ran several yards clear of the U's defence. Gerken closed him down and made a good block.

However, Gerken was caught in no man's land in stoppage time, eventually bringing down Aaron Mclean outside his penalty area. He was given a yellow rather than a red card, because defender Pat Baldwin was covering.

Half-time: Colchester United 0 Peterborough United 1

Yeates was close to poaching an equaliser within two minutes of the restart. He turned onto Ashley Vincent's lay-off, and tried his luck with a snap shot that beat Lewis but drifted inches wide of the far upright.

Vincent then fired impressively into the net with a sweet half-volley in the 53rd minute, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside against the Cheltenham Town loanee.

Peterborough had chances to put the result beyond doubt, not least when Mackail-Smith was within a whisker of diverting home Boyd's low cross with an empty goal beckoning.

Anthony Wordsworth appeared as a 70th minute substitute for Hackney, and almost scored straight away. He was desperately close to prodding home Yeates' excellent cross at the far post.

Gerken denied Peterborough a second goal in the 79th minute. Mackail-Smith craned his neck to execute a downward header that the U's keeper did well to push away with his outstretched right hand.

And Gerken was in the action again with four minutes remaining. This time he palmed away a goal-bound shot from winger Chris Whelpdale, with Boyd lifting the rebound over the bar.

Yeates nearly fashioned an equaliser in the fourth and last minute of injury-time. But his shot out-of-the-blue soared a foot over the bar.

Posh fans celebrated at the final whistle, and stepped up their celebrations when news filtered through of MK Don's defeat to Walsall.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: GERKEN 8, White 7, Coyne 7, Baldwin 7, Lockwood 6, Yeates 7, Tierney 7, Izzet 7, Hackney 6 (sub Wordsworth, 70), Platt 6, Vincent 7 (sub Heath, 77). Unused subs: Corcoran, Cousins.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED: Lewis 7, Martin 7, Morgan 7, Zakuani 8, Lee 8, Whelpdale 7, Keates 6 (sub Frecklington, 60), Coutts 7, BOYD 9, Mclean 7 (sub Batt, 90), Mackail-Smith 7. Unused subs: McKeown, Westwood, Green.

Referee: Mr Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire) 6

Attendance: 6,532

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