Grecians undone by prolific Posh
On another bitterly cold Saturday afternoon City were sentenced to a 3-0 defeat by an impressive Peterborough side.
George Boyd set the hosts on their way, scoring an early deflected effort and he struck again in the second-half to put the result beyond doubt.
Craig Mackail-Smith drilled home a third as City`s challenge faded against their high-flying opponents.
City made two changes from the midweek draw with Tranmere. Fit again Richard Duffy came back in at the expense of James Dunne and Daniel Nardiello was preferred to John O`Flynn in attack as Paul Tisdale reverted back to his frequently deployed 5-3-2 formation.
Before kick-off the crowd of 6,174 impeccably observed a minutes silence for former Tottenham Hotspur centre back Dean Richards who had also been a team mate of Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson.
This was always going to be a daunting task the Grecians but they initial signs were promising as for much of the opening 10 minutes City retained the ball well, forcing their opponents to defend deep.
Peterborough are by far and away the league`s top scorers and fired their first warning shot after seven minutes, a free kick was played into the heart of the six yard box and Ben Hamer will have been grateful that the headed effort looped gently into his gloves.
He could little about the opening goal though that followed 5 minutes later. Following some intricate passing on the edge of the box Boyd cleverly worked himself an opening and his shot took a wicked deflection off Duffy that sent the ball spiralling over the helpless Hamer.
Peterborough threatened to double their lead immediately; Mark Little ventured forward from his right-back position and sent his run and shot flashed dangerously across Hamer`s goal.
City fought hard to keep the deficit down to just a single goal. Peterborough continued to move the ball swiftly around the pitch but City defended their box well. Apart from receiving numerous back passes, Hamer had little to do for the remainder of the half.
City however were struggling to fashion any chances for themselves. An ambitious long range effort from David Noble that comfortably cleared the bar was all they could muster in terms of efforts at goal in the opening 45.
The second-half began with City showing much more promise and attacking intent and on 56 minutes the first real chance of the game for anyone in red and white fell the way of Nardiello. Collecting a clever pass from Harley in the corner of the box he neatly cut inside his marker but he snatched at the chance and blazed his shot over the stand.
Richard Logan replaced Nardiello soon after the hour mark and he went close within minutes of his introduction, stooping low to glance a difficult header wide from a corner.
Another City corner caused havoc in the Peterborough box, after a scramble Logan and Matt Taylor were left frantically trying to lash the ball home but the hosts eventually cleared.
Searching for the equaliser left City open at the back. The hard-working Mackail-Smith exploited this by making a purposeful, searching run down the right before pulling the ball back for Boyd to tuck home his second of the game and extinguish any hope that City had of getting back into the contest.
Mackail-Smith has been in fine form and on 84 minutes he became the first player to reach twenty goals in League One this season, calmly sweeping home Boyd`s layoff as tired City bodies began to wilt.
The 3-0 score line was a little hard on City, who for a time looked as though they might work an equaliser at 1-0 down.
But Peterborough clearly possess a squad capable of promotion and have the attacking players to beat anyone in this league. City won`t be the last visiting team to get beaten at London Road this season.
No time to dwell on it though, the games keep coming thick and fast. Bournemouth up next on Tuesday night at the Park.
City: Hamer, Tully, Duffy, Taylor, Archibald-Henville, Golbourne, Sercombe, Noble (Dunne 84), Harley, Nardiello (Logan 65), Cureton.