It wasn't fluent, it wasn't pretty, but it was one of the most satisfying results of Peterborough United's season
The Peterborough United manager insisted he'd have preferred a 4-3 win, but one suspects a clean sheet made a 2-0 success at Scunthorpe one of the more satisfying three-point returns of the campaign for Steve Evans.
Vultures are never far away from the ABAX Stadium, waiting to pounce on weakness, desperate to swoop down on the rotting carcass of another failed League One campaign. They are swift to condemn and reluctant to praise and recently their modus operandi has been to ignore the free-scoring skills in a superb away record and concentrate on the defensive failings that have accompanied distinctly average home form.
“Criticism is part of football and we accept that, but some of it has been well over the top,” Evans, who never misses a post-match opportunity to throw a threw jabs, moaned. “The players showed in the very early part of the season that they can defend, but individual errors and lapses of concentration led to too many goals against us in recent matches.
“It’s tough to get away from that criticism sometimes, but the players responded perfectly, both on the training ground and in this match.”
Scunthorpe had been in decent form since the appointment of Stuart McCall as manager. They have been creating chances and scoring goals. They play at Glanford Park, a far from happy hunting ground for most Posh teams and the stadium structure is small offering little respite from the howling wind that certainly affected the standard of play yesterday (October 13). Fluent football was rarely on view.
But Posh have a team suited to unlovely conditions when the ball spends far too much time in the air. The tallest defence (surely?) in Posh history was never likely to be troubled by the high ball and Alex Woodyard and Mark O’Hara are two central midfielders well suited to a scrap. They all had to be on their game for a first 50 minutes largely bossed by the hosts who nevertheless couldn’t take the few scoring chances that came their way.
Posh ‘keeper Aaron Chapman was caught on the edge of his area twice, but Stephen Humphrys and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson both missed the target, before Chapman stood firm to deny Ryan Colclough at his near post in added time at the end of the first half.
But once home midfielder Josh Morris had spurned a golden opportunity at the start of the second-half the match turned as Posh started to flex their attacking muscles.
Inevitably Matt Godden was at the forefront, giving lazy journalists an easy line by scoring twice in seven minutes against the club who gave him his professional debut.
Godden, who netted from close range from man-of-the-match Colin Daniel’s precise left-wing cross and with the help of a goalkeeping fumble from Jak Alnwick, now has 11 goals and comparisons with last season’s goalscoring hero Jack Marriott have become inevitable. For that record Godden reached 11 goals in his 15th appearance on October 13th, whereas Marriott’s 11th goal came in his 19th appearance on November 4. The striker’s father passed the press box yesterday to announce that his son now had 100 career goals,
Impressive stuff and Posh could have built on Godden’s two goals after this match opened up, but substitute Ivan Toney was twice thwarted by Alnwick. Posh are a dangerous beast on the counter attack, a major reason for an unbeaten record on the road that has yielded 19 points from a possible 21.
Not that everyone was impressed.
“I saw a team who score lots of goals and who are second in the table, but I didn’t see a team any better than us,” McCall stated. “I’m very frustrated because we hardly gave them a sniff of goal in the first half.”
For Evans the result was justification for returning to the side and formation that started the season with a bang. There’s a lot of talk about the need for a plan B, but when plan A keeps working maybe sticking with it is the best course of action.
Posh; Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Colin Daniel, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara, Joe Ward, Siriki Dembele (sub George Cooper, 86 mins), Matt Godden (sub Jamie Walker, 90 + 6 mins), Jason Cummings (sub Ivan Toney, 64 mins).
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Tyler Denton, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke.
Scunthorpe: Jak Alnwick, Jordan Clarke, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Charlie Goode, Rory McArdle, Funso Ojo, Matthew Lund (sub Andy Dales, 58 mins), Josh Morris (sub James Perch, 70 mins), Ryan Colclough, Lee Novak, Stephen Humphrys (sub Cameron Burgess, 82 mins)..
Unused substitutes: Jon Flatt, James Horsfield, Clayton Lewis, Levi Sutton.
Goals: Posh - Godden (51 mins & 57 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Daniel (delaying the restart). Toney (foul), O’Hara (foul).
Referee: Rob Lewis 7.
Attendance: 4,566 (746 Posh).