ANALYSIS AND HIGHLIGHTS: Unhappy Posh return for Ferguson
Darren Ferguson was given a taste of his own medicine on an eye-opening return to London Road for him.
Rovers’ new boss had every right to be returning to familiar surroundings in optimistic mood after his side produced a display full of energy and vibrancy to win his first game in charge at Shrewsbury last week.
Ferguson, Peterborough’s most successful ever manager, was keen to play down his penchant for attacking football in the wake of that 2-1 win at the New Meadow, re-emphasising that results take precedence in Doncaster’s current predicament.
But, eight months on from his departure, his legacy quite clearly lives on at Peterborough - as the hosts, now bossed by Graham Westley, laid siege to the Rovers goal from the first whistle and ran out very comfortable winners.
In truth 4-0 flattered Rovers. The damage could and probably should have been far greater.
Peterborough burst out of the blocks with all guns blazing and Rovers had absolutely no answer at all to Westley’s incredibly bold set-up.
Ferguson at least attempted to stem the tide by employing three different systems during the course of the game, but by the time Doncaster did see more of the ball the game was well and truly over.
This setback was a stark and somewhat sobering reminder that it will take time for Ferguson’s inherited group of players to get up to speed with his own style of play. It is not just going to happen overnight.
But what will have shocked the Scot was Rovers’ complete inability at times to do the very basic things.
After the game Ferguson took issue with his team’s failure to look after possession. But that was the tip of the iceberg.
Yet again Rovers were undone by a set piece, affording Gabriel Zakuani the freedom of the box to head home Peterborough’s first from a corner and set the wheels in motion.
In a first half as one-sided as they come, Rovers offered absolutely no attacking threat and Andy Williams continues to look like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Continually exposed by very simple balls over the top, defensively Doncaster were all at sea and their midfield was totally bossed.
When Posh scored their third less than 60 seconds after the re-start the game was over and it turned into something of a training exercise for Ferguson. Plenty for him to ponder.
His chances were not helped by an injury to Keshi Anderson, a young striker whose infectious character and goals have very quickly made him into a symbol of hope for this season. His replacement Williams barely got a kick before being subbed before the hour mark.
And even Ferguson might have been taken by surprise at just how bold and adventurous Westley set his stall out.
From the kick off Peterborough appeared to be operating without a conventional right back, while left-sided defender Callum Elder was given the licence to play almost as a left winger. That left Zakuani, who went off injured shortly after scoring, and Ricardo Almeida Santos as the only two out-and-out defenders.
The net result was that the home side’s midfield completely swarmed Doncaster and exposed Rovers down the flanks, dominating the first half from start to finish.
What was in effect a 2-6-2 formation left all kinds of space in Peterborough’s channels but the visitors were almost exclusively penned in, unable to stem the wave of attacks, and very fortunate to go in at the break just 2-0 down.
The excellent Erhum Oztumer had already curled a free kick just wide and forced a full length save from Thorsten Stuckmann before Zakuani nodded the home side ahead.
Souleymane Coulibaly smacked one against the inside of the post and Conor Washington got clean through only to fluff his lines before Oztumer did double the lead on 36 minutes, calmly stroking home after good hold-up play from Coulibaly.
Prior to going 2-0 down, Ferguson had switched from a midfield diamond to a more traditional 4-4-2 with Cameron Stewart left and James Coppinger right. All to no avail.
Another tactical switch saw Aaron Taylor-Sinclair replace Richard Chaplow at the break, with Rovers going 3-5-2 in an attempt to contain a rampant home team.
However, the visitors found themselves three down inside the first minute of the second period when Elder’s long range hit struck Andy Butler and fell kindly for the marauding left back to guide an effort past Stuckmann and put the game out of Rovers’ reach.
Butler saw a header cleared off the line from a corner and Nathan Tyson was unlucky to see his clipped effort come back off the inside of the post as Doncaster tried to regain some lost pride.
But Washington added the gloss to a comfortable victory when Coppinger was robbed of possession and he slammed home from 25 yards.
Peterborough: Alnwick 6, Zakuani 6 (Smith 15, 6), Santos 6, Elder 8, Anderson 7 (Fox 68), Bostwick 7, Oztumer 9 (Angol 74), C Forrester 7, Taylor 7, Coulibaly 8, Washington 8. Subs not used: Henry, Vassell, Davey, Collison.
Rovers: Stuckmann 6, Lund 5, McCullough 4, Butler 4, Evina 5, Wellens 5 (Middleton 54, 5), Chaplow 4 (Taylor-Sinclair 46, 5), Coppinger 5, Stewart 4, Tyson 6, Williams 4 (Forrester 56, 6). Subs not used: Marosi, N’Guessan, Keegan, Horsfield.