It’s a problem which Peterborough United manager Grant McCann is yet to solve.
Just what is the best strike partnership as the club heads towards the final furlong in the race for the League One play-off places?
McCann started a game for the first time this season with good mates Lee Angol and Junior Morias up top in the 2-1 win over Shrewsbury at the ABAX Stadium on Tuesday (February 14).
There were flashes of promise from two players who scored 40 goals between them when starring in Boreham Wood’s promotion from the National South Division together a couple of seasons ago.
But neither scored despite Posh dominating possession against a team who never looked that solid defensively.
Angol/Morias was the 10th permutation of a front two McCann has tried this season. He’s mixed and matched Paul Taylor, Tom Nichols, Shaquile Coulthirst and Craig Mackail-Smith as well as Tuesday’s preferred starters.
In other games McCann has played with a sole striker.
Taylor and Coulthirst started up front together on the opening day of the League One season at Rochdale, but that partnership was tried just three times in total.
Nichols and Coulthirst is the most-used partnership this season. They started 13 games and scored five goals between them while on the pitch together.
Taylor and Nichols has been the most successful pairing with seven goals between them in 10 starts together.
McCann, speaking after the 2-1 League One win over Shrewsbury, said: “Lee and Junior know each other well.
“They did well together at Boreham Wood and they are great friends.
“With the system I was going to use, they seemed the best fit. And they did okay.”
Nichols is the club’s top scorer this season with 10 goals (seven in League One), but midfielders Gwion Edwards (nine, seven in League One) and Marcus Maddison (seven, all in League One) are next in the charts.
McCann employed a 4-4-2 formation for the Shrewsbury match. Marcus Maddison and Gwion Edwards started the game out wide, with Taylor replacing Maddison at half-time and creating both Posh goals with fine crosses.
In the last away match, a 3-0 win at Port Vale, Mackail-Smith was deployed furthest forward with Nichols and Maddison offering him the most advanced support.
MY TEAM FOR WALSALL AWAY ON SATURDAY (February 18).
Smith, Ball, Tafazolli, Hughes.
Edwards, Taylor, Maddison
Posh have a rich variety of striker. They have Craig Mackail-Smith’s energy and workrate, Lee Angol’s strength and speed off the mark, the fierce shooting and physical power of Junior Morias, the intelligence of Tom Nichols and the fast feet and sheer speed of Paul Taylor.
What they don’t yet have between them is the most important skill of any striker, namely the ability to stick the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis.
I wouldn’t be averse to seeing Morias and Angol together again, but probably at home, and only in a 4-4-2. They have the muscle to unsettle opponents and Morias has had little opportunity to show us his finishing prowess, a two-goal burst at Port Vale aside.
Angol’s height makes him a decent target man for the likes of Maddison, Taylor and Edwards, but he needs to work on his heading.
Away from home I’d go back to the system used at Vale Park with Taylor involved in place of Nichols who looks like a confidence player.
With the excellent Anthony Grant in situ as a holding midfielder luxury players (i.e those not fond of tracking back) can be more readily accommodated and the sheer speed of those three on the break would surely worry any League One defence. Add Gwion Edwards to the mix and there is an abundance of pace available to exploit opposition weaknesses.
Maddison has been erratic recently, but he remains the most reliable provider of goal-scoring opportunities.
FANS’ FAVOURED STRIKE PAIRING
Junior Morias and Martin Samuelson should play together up front. I don’t even care the latter isn’t a striker. Worth a shot. Nothing else is working, and why bring him in just to have him warm the bench? The others can’t finish despite numerous opportunities.
Lee Angol and Craig Mackail-Smith are the best of a bad bunch
Craig Mackail-Smith and Paul Taylor is the best we can hope for.
After the other night, Dominic Ball and Ryan Tafazolli.
Craig Mackail-Smith & Junior Morias up front with Paul Taylor just behind them in Marcus Maddison’s position. Morias is hungry for goals, Mackail-Smith is a proven goalscorer while Taylor can tear up the left wing.
Tom Nichols and Craig Mackail-Smith for me. Not sure Junior Morias is not fully ready yet and Lee Angol is not League One standard.
Only Lee Angol looks like a target man who can hold the ball up. We need that so he is one. The other is who he works with best. Craig Mackail-Smith is top of my list, but he has a bit to prove.
Craig Mackail-Smith with Paul Taylor and Martin Samuelsen in behind.
As long as it’s not Tom Nichols, I’m not bothered. Lee Angol should be given a run as he’s our best striker. The rest can battle it out.
Craig Mackail-Smith and Tom Nichols, teacher and apprentice. Mackail-Smith to hold ball, win free kicks, Paul Taylor in behind, switching both left and right.
Junior Morias and Craig Mackail-Smith. Defenders would soon be knackered chasing those two.
Craig Mackail-Smith and Tom Nichols. Nichols will come good.