Manager Grant McCann insists the Peterborough United experiments will continue in the remaning three games of the League One season.
McCann handed debuts to 17 year-old Andrea Borg and Lewis Freestone in today’s (April 15) 2-1 home defeat by high-flying Fleetwood. He also recalled midfielder Callum Chettle who hadn’t previously made a first-team appearance in 2017.
Central defender Jack Baldwin dropped out ill 90 minutes before kick-off and was replaced by left-back Andrew Hughes, while teenage midfielder Leo Da Silva Lopes was withdrawn early in the second half after suffering from stomach cramps.
Posh were outclassed in the first-half by the team in third place and took the interval two goals behind. Craig Mackail-Smith pulled a goal back midway through the second half, but McCann’s men couldn’t find an equaliser despite performing much better.
Despite a second successive defeat Posh remain 11th in the League One table.
“Today was about seeing what I have in the squad,” McCann stated. “These young lads will have a big part to play next season and I was delighted with how they handled themselves. Lewis and Andrea were brilliant in that respect.
“I’ll possibly keep experimenting with next season in mind. We only have three games left so it’s the right time to do it. I was impressed with the way Lewis grew into the game. He was excellent in the second-half.
“We played a 4-3-3 formation in the first-half before switching to 4-4-2 in the second half which probably suited us more.
“There’s a bug in the camp which also affected my selection. I only found out this morning Jack Baldwin had been ill all night, while Leo was complaining of stomach cramps at half time.
“Andrew Hughes was only told he was playing a 1.30pm, but he was excellent.”
McCann blamed a weak first-half display for the defeat, but claimed his side might have deserved a point for the second-half fightback,
“We played far too safe in the first-half,” McCann added. “We wanted to get about them and restrict space, but instead the back four played far too deep and the front three weren’t always brave enough to press.
“That the left the middle three with too much space to cover and we couldn’t get close to them in the first-half. The game was stretched and it didn’t suit us.
“We were much better in the second half. We asked the lads to believe in themselves and get on the front foot. We scored a great goal and we had the chances for an equaliser. We might also have had a penalty when the goalkeeper clattered into Craig Mackail-Smith.
“We got Anthony Grant further foward and Chris Forrester started to collect second balls. There was more tempo and energy and we probably deserved a point, but we fell short in the end.
“The crowd stayed with us which was pleasing. They knew what we were trying to do.”
Posh are back in League action at AFC Wimbledon on Monday (April 17, 3pm). A win for the Dons would move them above Posh on goal difference.
Baldwin and Da Silva Lopes will be assessed over the weekend, but central defender Ryan Tafazolli is not expected to return. On-loan midfielder Martin Samuelsen missed today’s game with injury, but there’s a chance he could be sent back to West Ham for the rest of the season anyway.