Baldock begins to repay transfer fee with a double show for Bristol City
SAM Baldock has wasted no time repaying a substantial chunk of the £1 million Bristol City paid West Ham United for his services last month.
Recalled to the starting line-up after recovering from a groin injury, the fleet-footed marksman netted twice in six minutes early in the second half to deliver City's first away win of the Championship campaign.
Having been close to moving to London Road from MK Dons a couple of years ago, only to reject the terms offered, Baldock's double added insult to injury for a Peterborough team that already have the look of relegation candidates.
Having twice come off the bench to score against Cardiff and Blackburn, Baldock produced his first 90-minute performance, showing exactly why Robins boss Derek McInnes made him City's fifth million pound-plus signing.
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Posh launched a late comeback, Lee Tomlin converting a 92nd-minute penalty, but City held out to move back into the top half of the table.
All in all, this represented the perfect response to Saturday's 5-3 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn. But victory came at a price, midfielder Cole Skuse and left-back Greg Cunningham both being stretchered off after sustaining what appeared to be serious leg injuries.
The only team in the Football League without a point after suffering five straight defeats, rock-bottom Posh no doubt sensed an opportunity to stop the rot against a City side that had yet to muster an away goal this season.
Although Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony, responding to the worst start to a season in the club's history, felt the need to proffer under-fire manager Darren Ferguson the dreaded vote of confidence before kick-off, striker Lee Tomlin was certainly not low on confidence, trying his luck from range with a dipping drive that narrowly cleared Tom Heaton's crossbar in the opening minute.
Otherwise, there was precious little in the way of attacking intent from either side, Posh lacking the confidence to express themselves, while the visitors opted for a safety-first approach and put men behind the ball.
Given that both teams had conceded five goals at the weekend, such negative tactics were perhaps understandable. But there existed a feeling that all City had to do was push a little harder and a Posh defence that had already shipped 12 goals this term, would have collapsed like a house of cards.
Indeed, City's one truly incisive move of the first half split the home defence asunder, Stephen Pearson stretching to meet Sam Baldock's excellent cross with a shot that flashed inches wide of the target.
Playing on the shoulder of the last defender, Baldock twice almost profited from long balls out of defence, racing in behind Posh skipper Gabriel Zakuani only to be let down by his first touch on both occasions.
Heaton was not called upon to make a single meaningful save until standing tall to thwart the impressive Nat Mendez-Laing two minutes before the break.
A stilted contest was crying out for some much-needed flare and it arrived at the start of the second half in the form of Robins winger Albert Adomah, who replaced the injured Cole Skuse. City were more purposeful from the outset and Greg Cunningham's surging run and pass invited Baldock to test Posh keeper Bobby Olejnik with a low shot that drew a fine save at the near post.
When opportunity next came knocking for City's striker, it came from an entirely unexpected source. Lurking behind enemy lines, Baldock could hardly believe his luck when Mark Little inexplicably attempted a back pass from just inside his own half, presenting the 23-year-old with, not only the ball, but a clear sight of goal.
Collecting his thoughts in an instant, Baldock skipped around stranded keeper Olejnik to grab the easiest goal he will score this season. And he was at it again six minutes later, ghosting in behind a stretched Posh rear-guard to turn in Adomah's square pass from 10 yards out.
Peterborough pulled a goal back in the second minute of time added on. Woolford tripped Tomlin inside the 18 yard box and the forward picked himself up to beat Heaton from the penalty spot.