After successive wins against Birmingham City and Wolves, the unpredictable nature of the npower Championship came to the fore once more as Peterborough United recorded their first home win of the season at the expense of the Terriers.
A superb first half brace from George Boyd and an early second half strike from Kgosi Ntlhe put the hosts in full control and although a first Town goal for substitute Adam Hammill gave the travelling faithful hope, Town just couldn’t find a way back into the game.
Town Manager Simon Grayson kept faith with the same starting XI for the third successive game, allowing Anthony Gerrard to make the 300th start of his career at centre half. In midfield Ollie Norwood made his 50th career start, whereas Adam Clayton and James Vaughan were making the 100th appearances of their League careers.
The Terriers, in their third kit of red shirts and black shorts and socks at London Road on a misty evening, were backed by a vocal following stationed behind the goal they were attacking in the first half and looked bright in the opening moments – with James Vaughan and Jermaine Beckford working the channels well against a narrow Posh back three.
However, the hosts were full of invention going forward and created the first chance inside five minutes when Lee Tomlin fed West Brom loanee Saido Berahino on the edge of the box; the England Under-20 international firing powerfully over Alex Smithies’ bar.
Town were keeping hold of the ball without penetrating the Peterborough half and Darren Ferguson’s side continued to create the notable chances. Right midfielder Mark Little headed a George Boyd cross tamely at Smithies from a narrow angle just before the quarter hour mark, but they didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring.
A quick free kick did for the Terriers in the 16th minute. Grant McCann fed Tomlin in behind the Town midfield and he drew a defender before sliding the ball left to George Boyd, who wriggled past the challenge of Jack Hunt before firing impressively into the bottom corner on the angle.
As always seems to be the case against Town, Boyd was the danger-man and he scored an outstanding second in the 24th minute to extend his side’s lead. The former Stevenage man picked up a loose ball just outside the centre circle in the Town half before looking up and volleying high over the stranded Smithies and into the goal from fully 45 yards – sending the home fans into raptures.
Jermaine Beckford tried to replicate Boyd’s achievements from inside his own half two minutes later after intercepting a loose pass, but his effort was safely watched over the crossbar by home custodian Bobby Olejnik.
Peter Clarke had to be alert to block Berahino’s shot after good work from Lee Tomlin on the half hour mark before Danny ward’s deflected shot found the hands of the ‘keeper at the other end.
Beckford then outmuscled former Yeovil defender Craig Alcock on the touchline to setup a promising opportunity for the Terriers, but he opted to shoot from out wide rather than cross and once again the goalie didn’t have to move to collect the effort.
The half ended with Peterborough on the attack; set-piece specialist Grant McCann collecting a pass 25 yards from goal and firing inches wide, with Smithies scrambling across his goal.
Town needed a goal as soon as possible to get back into the game after the interval – but instead the Posh made it three in just the 48th minute through youngster Kgosi Ntlhe. That man Boyd was permitted far too much room inside the left edge of the Town penalty area and after having an initial shot blocked, he lifted a cross to the back post for the left midfielder to head back across goal and into the corner.
Simon Grayson tried to change things immediately after the setback, with Adam Hammill and Paul Dixon replacing Woods and Ward. That switch saw Hammill move behind the two strikers as the Terriers switched to a 4-3-1-2 shape.
That change paid dividends immediately, with Hammill scoring his first goal for the Club in just his fourth appearance mere moments after entering the pitch. The Wolves loanee had already fired one shot wide but after picking up a ball down the left channel he cut infield and beat a defender before firing low into the bottom corner from around 20 yards.
Norwood fired an unusually tame free kick wide of the near post in the 53rd minute as Town looked to continue the fight back.
The Town fans behind the goal had stayed right behind the team despite the scoreline and they had renewed hope when Beckford was clipped by a defender right on the edge of the Peterborough box. Up stepped Norwood once more – but his curler just clipped the top of the wall before sailing over the goal.
The pace of Little caused new boy Dixon a few issues and his enterprising run presented Berahino with a chance on the break in the 64th minute, but the young striker prodded wide at the near post.
The Posh were enjoying a good spell at this point and only a last ditch interception denied Boyd a hat-trick after another impressive Tomlin run and cross.
James Vaughan presented Berahino with a great chance to seal the game for the hosts in the 72nd minute with a dreadful back pass straight into the striker’s path, but Smithies did excellently to spring from his line and smother the striker’s shot inside the area.
Grayson introduced Sean Scannell to the game at the expense of Vaughan with quarter of an hour remaining to try and salvage something from the game
Norwood fired another poor free kick from range over the bar after a foul on the lively Hammill before Peterborough centre back Shaun Brisley headed a McCann corner wide at the far post.
Town pressed the Posh back in the closing ten minutes as they looked for a ray of hope, but the best they could muster was a speculative long shot from substitute Dixon that flew high and wide as the ball took a bobble. At the other end, a slip from Norwood on the wet turf presented Boyd with another shooting opportunity – but Smithies was equal to it at his near post.
Gerrard headed a late Hammill free kick over the bar before the five minutes of added time came to an end.
Town’s team (4-4-2):
Alex Smithies; Calum Woods (Paul Dixon 49), Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (c), Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Adam Hammill 49), Oliver Norwood, Keith Southern, Adam Clayton; Jermaine Beckford, James Vaughan (Sean Scannell 74)
Ian Bennett, Lee Novak, Anton Robinson, Joel Lynch
Peterborough bookings: Kgosi Ntlhe (72); Grant McCann (84)