The case for Peterborough United's defence is getting tougher to make
The last time Peterborough United won promotion from League One at the end of the 2010-11 campaign they scored an astonishing 106 goals in finishing in the play-off places.
They might need a similar tally to finish in a similar place this season.
It’s getting tougher by the game to make a case for the Posh defence. It’s now 19 goals conceded in the last eight competitive matches - at least two in every game - and one can only imagine the anticipation of future opponents scouting a back four and goalkeeper who are left exposed far too often with full-backs who don’t stop crosses coming in towards srikers who are often left unmarked in the penalty area.
“We don’t get to score goals like Brighton managed,” Posh assistant Paul Raynor bemoaned after a rather curious performance from his players in the Checkatrade Trophy against Brighton’s young players last night.
Posh were sluggish at the start and required goalkeeper Aaron Chapman to make a couple of fine saves, dominated the middle third of the game during which strike partners Matt Godden and Jason Cummings both delivered high quality finishes and Callum Cooke and Siriki Dembele struck the same post, but then finished so lamely Brighton were allowed to score two poorly defended goals and almost snatch a third with a header from a corner struck the crossbar in the final minute.
The visitors then won a tension-free penalty shootout for the extra point to inflict a second such defeat on Posh in the competition this year. Posh have conceded all 11 spot-kicks they have faced.
There were high points notably the form of two strikers who clearly enjoy each other’s company and Ivan Toney scored his penalty in the shootout, but conceding goals to unmarked opponents Aaron Connolly and Jordan Davies presumably dominated the post-match debrief.
It’s a back four and goalkeeper who have played together all season in League One apart from 45 minutes at Gillingham. The expectation was of gradual improvement as they became used to each other’s styles. Instead they’ve stood still, if not back-pedalled, as opponents have found weaknesses that need sorting quickly.
Raynor talked of a shake-up after the game, but hands are currently tied by illness and injury. The same players will be asked to take on a free-scoring Scunthorpe side away from home on Saturday in a far more important match.
Cummings and Godden must have a good chance of retaining their places for that game, but midfielders Louis Reed and Callum Cooke will presumably be replaced again by captain Alex Woodyard and Mark O’Hara, while Siriki Dembele delivered such an erratic display, Marcus Maddison’s personal medical bulletins on social media will become required reading.
Of course it is possible to be successful while leaking goals for fun. That 2010-11 side conceded 75 times in 46 League One matches, a worse record than the bottom two and three of the bottom four that season.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Colin Daniel, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke, Jamie Walker (sub Joe Ward, 80 mins), Siriki Dembele, Jason Cummings (sub Ivan Toney, 82 mins), Matt Godden.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Darren Lyon, Alex Woodyard, George Cooper, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts.
Brighton: Billy Collings, Owen Moore (sub Archie Davies, 56 mins), Ben White, Leo Ostigard, Ben Barclay, George Cox, James Tilley (sub Peter Gwargis, 63 mins), Antonsen Normann, Jordan Davies, Victor Gyokeres, Aaron Connolly.
Unused substitutes: Roco Rees, Warren O’Hora, Ryan Longman, Danny Cashman.
Goals: Posh - Godden (29 mins), Cummings (52 mins).
Brighton - Connolly (71 mins), J. Davies (79 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Reed (foul).
Brighton - A. Davies (foul), J. Davies (foul).
Referee: Gavin Ward 7
Attendance: 1,872 (42 Brighton).