Alan Swann’s Peterborough United review of 2014, part 1: January to April -
JANUARY: Life could only have become more embarrassing at London Road if they’d appointed Nigel Farage and Kim Kardashian to the coaching staff.
Posh lost 3-1 at home to Brentford on New Year’s Day to record a third straight League One loss.
They also lost at home to a non-league team, Kidderminster, in the FA Cup for just the second time in the club’s Football League history and finished the month losing 5-4 at Oldham despite leading 3-0 at half-time. Posh had never previously lost from such a position of strength.
Bad boy Lee Tomlin was sent off for the second and third times the season at Swindon and Oldham. Posh boss Darren Ferguson wasn’t impressed and claimed that if his player was trying to provoke a departure from the club he’d be disappointed.
Predictably Tomlin left for Middlesbrough within a fortnight. Just as predictably chairman Darragh MacAnthony continued to back his manager and several bids for new players were made.
Rochdale’s finest Scott Hogan turned Posh down, but Jack Baldwin - Hartlepool’s Alan Hansen - and Conor Washington - Newport’s Craig Mackail-Smith - did sign on the dotted line.
Posh had started January in fifth place, but they finished it in seventh despite wins over Tranmere and Notts County, the latter courtesy of Nicky Ajose’s first hat-trick of a short and undistinguished career.
FEBRUARY: The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is the runt in the litter of football prizes, but for Posh it suddenly became a best in breed as a chance to salvage silverware from a frustrating season loomed large.
Posh sealed a first trip to the new Wembley Stadium after winning a nerve-jangling penalty shoot out at Swindon thanks to captain Tommy Rowe’s coolness from the spot.
Chairman Darragh MacAnthony admitted he couldn’t watch the shoot out which was unfortunate as he was a pundit in the Sky TV studios for the game.
Posh only played three League One matches in February and they won at Orient - when Rowe was the last-gasp match-winner again - and Stevenage before drawing 0-0 at home to Walsall on a London Road pitch that resembled a World War One battlefield.
Low Posh crowds were becoming a concern with chairman and manager both bemoaning the fact that around 3,500 fans (their figures) had deserted the club since relegation.
Relegation and some uninspiring football (my words) were probably a defining factor.
Posh finished the month in sixth place, the last play-off position, five points clear of seventh.
MARCH: Posh maintained their 100 per cent record at Wembley with a 3-1 win in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final over Chesterfield.
Over 20,000 Posh fans saw goals from Josh McQuoid, Shaun Brisley and Britt Assombalonga seal a 3-1 win despite a red card for Joe Newell.
Ferguson and MacAntony were rightly thrilled. It was the first trophy of their respective reigns, discounting play-offs.
They were happy that they’d made so many Posh fans happy, for now at least.
In League One Posh lost at home to Bristol City (in front of barely 4,500 fans) and Rotherham in March, but did strike a blow for all opponents of franchise football and plastic clubs by winning 2-0 at MK Dons thanks to a double from top scorer Britt Assombalonga.
They were still sixth at the end of March.
APRIL: Assomablonga scored his 30th goal of the campaign for Posh during a routine 2-0 home win over Gillingham.
Assomabalonga’s feat ensured that the Posh reputation for finding free-scoring strikers was enhanced despite the best efforts of Tyrone Barnett to prove otherwise.
Inevitably transfer speculation regarding the Posh player-of-the-season gathered pace. Nottingham Forest had apparently placed several leading opticians on high alert ready to perform the strictest of medicals.
Posh sealed their place in the League One play-offs with a 4-2 win at Shrewsbury.