MATCH PREVIEW: Winning ugly is a good skill to learn
M\anager Grant McCann wants his Peterborough United side to learn how to win ugly and to dodge defeat when not playing well.
The Posh boss is convinced the League One promotion race will be heavily congested this season so the ability to grind out results when below one’s best will be vital.
A 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United last weekend (September 17) dropped Posh to ninth place, but they are just six points off both first and last place.
“No-one will run away with League One this season,” McCann stated.
“It would be great if we can put a good run together and get away from the rest, but the table at the moment suggests it is going to be a tight division for the rest of the season.
“Picking up points when you’re not at your best will therefore be important.
“I watched (leaders) Scunthorpe draw at home to Charlton this week and they didn’t play well, but they found a way not to lose and that’s a skill we must learn. We have played very well at times this season, but as soon as we let our standards slip we drop points.
“We haven’t really done 0-0 draws at this club, not in my time at the club anyway, but sometimes that’s a good result.
“You won’t always play well so finding a way to still get a result is important.”
Posh start a hectic little spell of five matches in 14 days when Walsall visit the ABAX Stadium on Saturday (September 24).
Posh are also in League One action at Shrewsbury on Tuesday (September 27) and Southend on October 1 before hosting MK Dons in the Checkatrade Trophy (October 4) and Bury in a League One match to be televised live on Sky Sports on Saturday October 8.
But for now McCann’s thoughts are all on beating Walsall.
Posh have won just one of four League One matches at the ABAX so far this season. They were also beaten heavily at home by Swansea and Norwich U23s in cup matches.
“We have to sort our home form out,” McCann added.
“That’s something else that will be important in such a competitive division.
“It’s not been good enough in the last couple of seasons so Saturday gives us a chance to start putting that right.
“Walsall are a good side though. They were excellent last season, but lost a lot of players in the summer.
“They had to re-build, but they are starting to show some better form.
“Last week they beat Bolton despite playing with 10 men for most of the game.
“Bolton put them under a lot of pressure, but they weathered it to pick up a very good result.
“They have quality in their squad, but we must impose our game on them.”
Posh will welcome left-back Andrew Hughes back into the starting line-up.
Hughes, a summer signing from Newport County, has impressed at the ABAX Stadium this season, but missed the defeat at Sheffield United to serve a one-match suspension.
Hughes is expected to replace Jerome Binnom-Williams who performed well in his place at Bramall Lane.
“It will be good to have Andrew back,” Posh boss Grant McCann stated. “He’s been a very consistent performer.”
Central defender Ryan Tafazolli is also knocking on the door for a recall after impressing in a couple of under 23 outings.
Tafazolii, a commanding defensive presence, has not seen any League One action since picking up an injury in the early stages of the opening day of the season at Rochdale.
The failure of striker Tom Nichols to score in any of his last six appearances means his place is under threat from 17 year-old Deon Moore.
Summer signing from Barnet, Matthew Stevens, is also pushing for a call-up.
The 18 year-old travelled with the first-team squad to Sheffield United last Saturday without making the matchday 18.
Posh are trying to offload former Spurs striker Shaquile Coulthirst.