Peterborough United match comment as Sadlier haunts Posh again, a toiling strike partnership, the importance of scoring first, the unimportance of possession and shooting statistics, overreaction from the manager and fans

It’s fair to say Peterborough United fans know more about Kieran Sadlier now than they did when he spent an anonymous six months at London Road four years ago.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 7:00 am
Posh striker Ivan Toney goes up for a header against Doncaster. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Sadlier played once under Dave Robertson before he departed with a whimper to Irish football. Posh fans have seen him three times since and he’s racked up four goals against their favourite team.

It therefore surely came as no surprise when Sadlier netted twice as Doncaster beat Posh 3-0 at the Weston Homes Stadium yesterday (December 26) even though a man who should know told me the 25 year-old attacking midfielder had been in pretty poor form in recent weeks.

If Doncaster have become a bogey team for Posh Sadlier has become a bogey player. He took advantage of the freedom of London Road to drill home the opening goal after 18 minutes and turned home a corner for the crucial second goal at a time in the second-half when Posh were the dominant side.

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Rhys Bennett of Peterborough United in action with Cameron John of Doncaster Rovers. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Ben Whiteman’s classily-taken third goal eight minutes from time ensured the League One formbook was well and truly ripped up, even if the 3-0 scoreline flattered the visitors.

Doncaster had won’t won a League One game since smacking seven past Southend in late October (to be fair they’ve only played five since then and three had been drawn) whereas Posh hadn’t lost at home since the opening day of the season.

Other things we learnt yesterday...

1) At the start of play both teams were in false positions. It was a stretch to claim Posh were really the second best team in League One, while Donny were clearly better than 15th. Indeed if Donny now win their three games in hand they would move above Posh. This is a volatile League One this season and the table could look very different by teatime on January 1. Posh need to be in touch with the top two when the expected reinforcements arrive next month, if they are to challenge for automatic promotion so winning at either Rotherham or Lincoln will be necessary.

2) It’s a strange thing to say about two players with 27 League One goals between them, but Ivan Toney and Mo Eisa are not exactly John Toshack and Kevin Keegan. There is very little interplay between the front two. Eisa rarely reads Toney’s knockdowns. It’s time to see what Ricky-Jade Jones can do alongside Toney.

3) Don’t use possession stats to claim you were the better side and don’t use shots at goal stats either. Possession stats can be boosted by safe and backwards passing which was the case with the Posh possession percentage of 58% yesterday. Posh also had 18 shots apparently, but did visiting goalkeeper Seny Dieng make another difficult save apart from his excellent stop to thwart Toney’s header when the game was effectively over in the 90th minute? If Posh had created lots of chances you’d claim they were unlucky losers yesterday, but most of these shots on goals were optimistic hits from outside the area.

4) The first goal is vital in Posh matches. Posh have yet to win a League One game after falling behind, They’ve picked up just three points from losing positions and one of those (v Ipswich) they were actually winning going into added time (after falling behind in the first minute).

Similarly Posh have lost just once after scoring first, in that crazy 4-3 game at Blackpool.

5) Marcus Maddison does himself no favours with his theatrical flounces and high-pitched screams, but my goodness he is poorly treated by officials. Referee David Rock, who is in first season at Football League level, was pretty good yesterday, but the assistant who missed the shove in Maddison’s face when staring at it from under 10 yards away needs a rollocking.

6) Manager Darren Ferguson changed shape too soon in my opinion. He overreacted to Doncaster’s second goal which arrived at a time when Posh were on top. Ferguson immediately went to a midfield diamond, presumably to accommodate the return of George Boyd ,and Posh were then poor in the final quarter. At 2-0 Joe Ward should have stayed on as the right-back in a flat back four because he is far more attack-minded than Niall Mason (Mason was very good as the right-sided centre-back) and if there was to be a change in formation maybe young Ricky-Jade Jones should have joined Toney and Eisa rather than replace the latter. It was surely worth a gamble?

7) The reaction of many Posh fans to every result is far too extreme. Posh were going to win the league after a 0-0 draw at Bristol Rovers last weekend (Rovers lost at home to Wimbledon yesterday) and now they will finish mid-table after losing 3-0 at home to Doncaster.

Oh and Fergie should be sacked. It’s madness. Perspective is just flying out of the window at 5pm every matchday.