Mario Vrancic fires Stoke to victory over Peterborough
Mario Vrancic’s early goal and Tyrese Campbell’s late strike earned 10-man Stoke a third successive Championship win as they beat struggling Peterborough 2-0.
Former Norwich midfielder Vrancic scored his second of the campaign after three minutes as Michael O’Neill’s men won at the Bet365 Stadium for the first time since October 1.
Substitute Campbell rounded off victory in the sixth minute of stoppage time with his first goal in nearly a year following a knee injury lay-off.
In a frantic finale, Stoke also finished with 10 men as Campbell’s fellow sub Sam Sturridge was sent off for clashing with Josh Knight.
Darren Ferguson’s Posh have collected only one point from the last 12 available.
An eighth away defeat in nine dropped them into the bottom three while Stoke moved fourth, nine points off an automatic promotion place.
The international break brought a season-ending cruciate ligament injury for the Potters’ star Australian defender Harry Souttar.
So, the almost immediate breakthrough was just the boost for O’Neill’s men.
Vrancic had only featured off the bench in the previous wins at Blackpool and Luton but made the most of his restoration to the starting line-up.
The Bosnian’s left-foot drive may have been saved by David Cornell but a deflection off defender Frankie Kent saw the ball go away from the keeper.
Posh hadn’t won away since a 2-1 success at Hull on October 20 and started like a team suffering a bad case of travel sickness.
Slowly, though, they played their way back into contention and might have levelled before the break.
Jorge Grant whipped a 33rd-minute free-kick over the crossbar and curled another effort from 20 yards onto the roof of the net.
When Joe Ward cut into the penalty area, his right-foot attempt was deflected behind for one of five corners for the visitors against one in reply in the opening period.
Posh also enjoyed the lion’s share of possession though Adam Davies, deputising for injured ex-United and England Under-21 goalie Josef Bursik, saw little direct action to concern him.
Stoke wasted an outstanding chance to also strike early in the second half.
This time, Vrancic was the creator though Cornell’s ill-advised rush from his line made it easier for Jacob Brown.
Fortunately, for Posh, Brown’s side-foot attempt was a weak one and Nathan Thompson easily cleared.
Cornell then redeemed himself with a fine double save, first keeping out James Chester’s header and then foiling Steven Fletcher’s close-range header.
Posh were always lively on the counter and Jack Taylor rattled Davies’ crossbar from 25 yards. Sammie Szmodics headed in the rebound but was offside from the initial shot.
That was as close as they came to sharing the spoils as Stoke celebrated three more points with Campbell’s long overdue goal.
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