Two first half goals from Barnett and McCann gave the Posh the three points and ended North End’s unbeaten start to the season, with home keeper Bobby Olejnik the hero with some outstanding second half saves at London Road.
Darren Ferguson’s men took the lead eight minutes in when Tyrone Barnett was first to react after Declan Rudd couldn’t hold onto Grant McCann’s powerful pile-driver and McCann himself doubled the lead just before the half hour mark when Rudd couldn’t keep out his 25 yard effort.
North End had started extremely brightly, dominating possession in the first five minutes and having a glorious opportunity to take the lead. Scott Laird did brilliantly down the left before pulling the ball back for Kevin Davies. The frontman fired towards the bottom corner, but a Posh defender got lucky and deflected the ball, through no knowledge, just past the post.
However, against the early run of play the home side opened the scoring. Paul Taylor did well 25 yards out to hold the ball up and laid a pass sideways for Grant McCann. The midfielder fired towards the goal with a powerful drive that Rudd could only parry and Tyrone Barnett was first to react, firing high into the top left hand corner from six yards out.
North End could have been level within 60 seconds of the opener; a deep corner from Joel Byrom found Paul Huntington at the back post; the No.4 headed downwards but Bobby Olejnik did superbly to palm the effort out of bottom right hand corner of the goal.
Declan Rudd pulled off a world class save on 19 minutes. Huntington had scythed down Britt Assombolonga and was immediately cautioned. It gave the home side a free kick 25 yards out in a left hand channel, but Rudd was at full stretch to keep Paul Taylor’s free kick out of the top right hand corner with his fingertips.
However, the on loan custodian could not keep out the Peterborough second, as a shot from distance by McCann was only half palmed by the keeper and ended up in the bottom left hand corner.
Again North End reacted in the right manner and immediately after the goal they had a glorious chance to halve the deficit. Humphrey down the right pulled ball back from the byline and McCann, the scorer at the other end, almost turned into his own net, hitting the side-netting with Olejnik nowhere.
Ten minutes before the break Rudd made up for the second goal with a brilliant triple save from Taylor, Barnett and then moments later Taylor again. Posh had charged down the right and Taylor drove a shot in, which Rudd parried; it came out to Assombolonga on the right hand byline who crossed for Barnett to head down, but somehow the keeper scrambled across to scoop it out of the bottom corner; before it came out to Taylor on the edge of the ‘D’, but again the stopper was at full stretch and tipped the ball round for a corner.
Simon Grayson made two changes at half-time, Wroe and Welsh on for Hume and Byrom and the red and black clad Lilywhites started the half brightly, Humphrey denied by Olejnik after a drive into the box and shot from a tight angle on the right.
Britt Assombalonga had a ‘goal’ ruled out for offside just after the hour mark, but this was a rare foray forward for the home side in the early stages of the second half.
John Welsh curled a free kick from 25 yards inches over the right hand corner of post and bar after Kevin Davies had been cynically taken out by Michael Bostwick, the former Stevenage man earning a yellow card for his late tackle.
Joe Garner replaced Stuart Beavon with 20 minutes left and he should have been awarded a penalty seconds after coming on; clearly pushed in the back from a PNE corner, but while the match official gave nothing, Bailey Wright crashed a 20 yard volley against the cross bar, down onto the line and out, with North End getting no luck at all.
Nicky Wroe was then denied from 35 yards as he almost caught Olejnik off his line, the keeper scrambling to tip the ball over the bar with 15 minutes to go. From Laird’s corner Clarke saw an effort headed off the line by Barnett and then the ball came back in and Garner hit the bar with another header.
It was non-stop PNE pressure, but with no luck.
Bobby Olejnik was the man of the match for the home side and he had to scramble again to dive on a ball after only managing to palm away a fierce drive from Garner with seven minutes left.
It was then Welsh who was denied by the outstanding keeper as the gap widened in the possession stats with North End winning every 50/50 and shooting on sight, but without reward.
Five minutes of time was added on by referee Carl Boyeson as the visitors continued to try and get something from the game and Joe Garner fired over after a ball in from the left by Nicky Wroe, but the home side held on for the win.
Peterborough United line-up: Olejnik, Alcock, Zakuani, Bostwick, Swanson, Payne (Ntihe, 88), Assombalonga, McCann, Taylor (Kearns, 78), Rowe, Barnett. Subs not used: Day, Brisley, Mendez-Laing, Gordon, Conlon.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Humphrey, Laird, Clarke, Huntington, Wright; Keane, Byrom (Welsh, 46); Hume (Wroe, 46), Beavon (Garner, 70), K Davies. Subs not used: Stuckmann, Holmes, Buchanan, Mousinho.
Referee: Mr C Boyeson
Attendance: 7,020 (665 away fans)