ALAN SWANN’s comment on Peterborough United 1, Burton 0: A result which disguised the performance level, Ivan Toney now more vaulable than Marcus Maddison, a worthy clean sheet, excellent home form and a new role for Frazer Blake-Tracy
It’s a fact results often disguise performances.
And last-minute goals, especially brilliant ones, change moods, certainly in the heat of the moment.
Not for the first time this season a bang average Peterborough United display turned into a victory courtesy of a brilliant goal, this one from Joe Ward’s right boot.
Pleasingly Posh manager Darren Ferguson didn’t try and put any gloss or spin on the display. He quite rightly praised the players for their attitude rather than their skills, but I suspect he realises goals won’t keep flying in from 25 yards, even with three high calibre forward players at his disposal.
Apart from at MK Dons and at home to Rochdale Posh have not regularly carved a side open, and those two games were broken open after slow starts by a superb Marcus Maddison strike and a defensive howler.
Instead, as director of football Barry Fry touched on in his exclusive interview with the Peterborough Telegraph this week, the heroics of Maddison, Ivan Toney and Mo Eisa are even more worthy considering how poor the service to them has been for a lot of the season.
If Posh can find a way to dominate the ball and pass accurately at a great tempo, that front three will become even more lethal, but I suspect it won’t happen until January.
Toney is even more valuable to this Posh team than Maddison. Whereas Posh have players (George Boyd, Siriki Dembele) who could fill in for Maddison there is no-one to replace Toney and that’s not a slight on 17 year-old Ricky-Jade Jones or any other forwards at the club.
Toney has unique talents in this Posh squad. His hold-up play enables Posh to get up the field. Jones would have had a far easier Football League debut alongside Toney than he did alongside Eisa, who looks more each week like a finisher rather than a top team player.
At least the superb goal didn’t come from one of the big three. Ward has now scored four goals this season, all from outside the penalty area.
I find watching Ward most frustrating. His strengths are his speed (seen to good effect yesterday when defending) and his ability to run past players (not seen at all yesterday).
Too often he will turn backwards and play a safe pass which might be a confidence issue. Ward must be encouarged to play more positively and not to worry if things don’t always come off. Everyone’s first pass in this team should be to try and locate Maddison who is quite adept at finding space.
It was a poor game yesterday. Burton passed the ball nicely in the first-half, but clearly lack a goalscorer. That aside they are a decent team who will surely get into the top half of the table once they catch up with their fixtures.
They’ve scored two or more goals in seven away matches this season including four at Oxford so a clean sheet for Posh should not be sniffed at.
The performance of Nathan Thompson at right-back was encouraging. He was quick to put opponents under pressure and he won most of his tackles, while also showing a pleasing willingness to get forward.
Centre-backs Mark Beevers and Frankie Kent shut the defensive door so effectively Posh ‘keeper Christy Pym was forced to make just one tricky save all afternoon, and that 20 minutes from time. Burton also won just one corner.
Beevers shouldn’t be judged on his unhappiness with his ball at his feet. His ability to organise a defence is a far more important skill and he was better yesterday.
That’s 10 clean sheets in all competitions for Posh. They only kept 11 clean sheets in total last season.
Posh have not lost at home since Fleetwood caught them by surprise on the opening day of the season. In 11 games since at the Weston Homes Stadium, Posh have won nine and drawn two in all competitions.
Opponents will be aware of those statistics and it was noticeable yesterday that even though Posh struggled to string any passes together, Burton looked happy to slow the game down in the latter stages and take the 0-0 draw. They appeared to see a draw as a reasonable result even though Posh were depleted and not playing well.
Cameo substitute appearances can be misleading, but how good was left-back Frazer Blake-Tracy when deployed in midfield for the final 25 minutes? He’s strong and he can play. Don’t be surprised if he gets a start in that position while George Boyd and Josh Knight are recovering from injury.
I walked out of the stadium with co-owner Dr Jason Neale last night and how satisfied he was that two 17 year-olds had started the game. Dr Neale was the driving force behind targets for Academy players reaching the first-team and fair play to Ferguson for throwing them in.
Neither Ricky-Jade Jones nor Harrison Burrows set yesterday’s game alight, but the experience can’t fail to do them good.