Peterborough United manager Grant McCann believes his side answered a few tough questions with their convincing derby victory over deadly rivals Northampton Town tonight (October 18).
Posh won the first meeting between the teams for seven years 3-0 thanks to goals from Shaquile Coulthirst - his first of the season - Northampton defender Zander Diamond and Tom Nichols, his first for 13 games.
The win moved Posh up to seventh place in League One ahead of a home game against bang in-form AFC Wimbledon on Saturday (October 22).
McCann, who fielded central defender Michael Bostwick in midfield, one of four changes he made following the dismal defeat at Fleetwood on Saturday (October 15), felt his team won by showing a different side to their make-up tonight. The game was played at a frantic pace in front of a crowd of just over 9,000, the biggest Football League attendance at the ABAX Stadium since November, 2013.
“For three days we spoke about winning our individual battles,” McCann stated. “And I felt we did that all over the pitch tonight.
“We knew it was going to be a physical, competitive game and we stood up to it well. We showed a different side of us today. We showed we can win by getting stuck in and by standing up to a physical approach.
“I wasn’t sure what system they would play, but I knew they were short of midfielders and I felt we could exploit that.
“I’m delighted for the players and for the fans. Everyone was outstanding tonight on and off the pitch. I’d love those fans who came tonight to come every week as they don’t half make a difference. It can be disheartening turning up and seeing just 3000-3500 home fans in the ground.
“When I was playing here this place used to rock at night for the big games. I envied my players tonight, performing in that sort of atmosphere and they did the fans proud. We had to react after the Fleetwood game and we delivered big time.
“The fans here can suck the ball into the net.
“We were under the cosh for a lot of the second half, but the back four and Luke McGee were excellent and Michael Bostwick just in front of them delivered a colossal display. Michael was an important figure in a physical game and he tracked runners, made tackles and won headers.
“If we defend well and keep clean sheets we will win plenty of games because we have players like Marcus Maddison, who we allowed to drift all over the pitch, delivering superb set-pieces and players like Paul Taylor who can create havoc. Taylor did everything but score tonight and after Shaquile Coultirst and Tom Nichols ended their goal drought tonight, it’s ‘Tayls’ turn next.
“I left Tom out of the side tonight and he took it well, but I reminded him what Paddy Madden did at the weekend when coming off the bench for Scunthorpe (he scored twice) and I asked Tom to do the same.
“The lads really understood the importance of the game. Yesterday I showed them videos of Charlie Lee scoring the winning goal in the last derby when it was obvious what it meant to the players and fans.
“ But it’s important we now back this result up by beating Wimbledon. We need to break the run of not winning back-to-back League One games.
“Our home form in the league has generally been decent, but we will stay grounded. It’s a long seaon and there will be disappointments on the way, but there will be many more good nights like this one.”
Coulthirst limped off just before half-time with a hamstring injury. It’s not thought to be a serious one, but he must be a doubt for the Wimbledon match.