MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
Stunned Ferguson orders his players to buck their ideas up
by Alan Swann
MANAGER Darren Ferguson admitted he was stunned by the traditional Boxing Day disaster for Posh.
Posh slipped out of the automatic promotion places in League Two after crashing to a 2-0 defeat at Mansfield, the team that started the day bottom of the Football League.
Ferguson labelled the performance 'embarrassing' and 'indefensible' and reckoned it was the worst his side had played all season.
He immediately warned his highly-paid players to buck their ideas up or face failure in the quest for promotion.
Ferguson said: "We can practice as hard as we want and we can use whatever formation we want, but if we can't pass the ball to each other and we can't take our chances or defend properly we will not win games in this division.
"We had two great chances to score the first goal and if we had taken either of them we would have gone on to win the game.
"Instead they scored the first goal and then they had something to hang on to. Michael Boulding scored that one out of the blue and added another to maintain a brilliant record in a team that have been struggling - I wonder how much money he's on.
"The rest of the game was like the ones at Bury and Lincoln with lots of high balls into the area and that's not the way we play.
"And defensively we keep making the same errors week in week out which hurt us. It was as bad as we've been all season.
"We can't expect to just turn up at these places and win. I'm not saying we did because we were good for the first 20 minutes, but we have to play for 90 minutes in every match.
"Any team can beat anyone else in this division and if we are not at it all game we will lose. We will have to be much better at Morecambe or it will be a long 90 minutes."
Posh have not won a Boxing Day fixture since 1996. They dropped from second to fourth as a result of their defeat and positive results for Hereford and Darlington.
They now face a tough trip to in-form Morecambe on Saturday.
Hosts enjoy a Stags party: Mansfield 2 Posh 0
by Alan Swann
POSH should lead the campaign for a festive break for professional footballers.
A defeat is as much a Boxing Day tradition in these parts as a fox hunt and sales queues.
But this one was particularly worrying as it came against the team which, statistically speaking, was the worst in League Two at the start of the day. Mansfield were also forced to play a 39 year-old and a left-back at the heart of their defence.
And yet, once Aaron Mclean and Craig Mackail-Smith had missed one on one opportunities in the first 20 minutes, Mansfield were so superior, Posh manager Darren Ferguson reckoned there were 10 imposters and Adam Newton playing for his team.
He also had sympathy for the travelling fans, even though many in the 700-plus away following had stopped supporting well before the end.
Ferguson said: "I heard our fans asking for their money back and after that display I'd be inclined to give it to them.
"That wasn't my team out there. It was embarrassing watching the side who were bottom of the league successfully playing keep ball against us in the final five minutes."
Match stats and player ratings:
The Posh fans were also urging Fergie to 'sort it out' as the decision to play George Boyd on the right wing and leave midfield powerhouse Charlie Lee on the substitutes' bench proved errors of judgement, although having George Best in his pomp might not have made much difference to the way this game went.
Ferguson believed the chances his star strikers spurned were decisive and he had a point. Mclean, who endured one of his most miserable performances in a Posh shirt, shot horribly wide after Boyd and Newton had created a fourth minute opportunity and Boyd also played Mackail-Smith through on 19 minutes, but the striker shot tamely at veteran keeper Carl Muggleton.
Goals then might have given Posh a huge boost and knocked the Christmas stuffing out of Mansfield, but that in itself was not an excuse for what followed.
Muggleton never threatened to catch anything else, but the Posh passing was so poor and so slow (three steps back and two forward appears to be a major tactic) they created just one more chance which Mclean headed wide from Newton's cross 10 minutes after the break until Boyd's weak side-foot in the final minute dribbled towards the 'keeper.
Conversely Mansfield were mightily impressive in the circumstances especially considering the fraught build-up to the match they suffered.
One regular centre-back picked up an injury at the weekend and the other pulled out after suffering a back strain on the way to the match, but after a shaky start veteran Martin McIntosh and former Posh left back Gareth Jelleyman comfortably came out on top against League Two's hottest strike force.
Mclean was so poor he was substituted with 20 minutes remaining just after his side had fallen two goals behind, both of them scored by Michael Boulding.
Boulding's record this season is outstanding considering the poor quality of his team-mates and he caused havoc in the Posh defence with his direct running style.
Full-time: Mansfield 2, Posh 0
by Alan Swann
The Boxing Day blues struck again as Posh crashed to a deserved defeat at League Two's worst club Mansfield.
Posh have not won a Boxing Day fixture for 11 years and never looked like ending the jinxk after star strikers Aaron Mclean and Craig Mackail-Smith wasted one-on-one opportunities in the first 15 minutes.
A goal in each half from Mansfield top scorer Michael Boulding was enough to clinch victory for the home side who were rock solid at the back after a slow start and always dangerous on the break.
Posh created nothing in the second-half apart from a Mclean header from an Adam Newton cross which flashed past a post.
Boulding scored on 34 minutes with a fine strike from the edge of the box and made the game safe on the hour after a Dean Keates clearance was blocked into his path.
Over 700 Posh fans made the trip, but watched on glumly as their side dropped out of the top three.