A freak scoreline, but a predictable result, reasons why Peterborough United lost and reasons why they shouldn't give up hope!

Dismiss the 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers as a freak scoreline if you must.
Posh forward Ephron Mason-Clark is down after a challenge by Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos. Photo: David Lowndes.Posh forward Ephron Mason-Clark is down after a challenge by Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos. Photo: David Lowndes.
Posh forward Ephron Mason-Clark is down after a challenge by Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos. Photo: David Lowndes.

But there is one horrible statistic which continues to haunt Peterborough United this season.

The Posh playing record against teams in the top 10 of League One now reads P10 W1 D0 L9 F8 A23. Thank goodness Sheffield Wednesday had a man sent off after 30 minutes at London Road.

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Did Posh deserve to lose by a record-equalling score in a home Football League match on Saturday? Certainly not on possession stats, shots on goal stats and corners won stats, all of which favoured the home side.

Posh skipper Jonson Clarke-Harris in an aerial duel against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.Posh skipper Jonson Clarke-Harris in an aerial duel against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.
Posh skipper Jonson Clarke-Harris in an aerial duel against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.

But missing chances when on top as Posh did and defending appallingly when threatened as Posh also did will usually end up with a defeat, especially when the big boys are in town.

That’s not bad luck. Luck often evens itself out over a season. Failing to garner a single point against the best sides when they have full complements of players is horrific for a team with promotion hopes.

As leaders Plymouth Argyle are the next opponents at London Road, Posh will probably need to win the forthcoming away games at Fleetwood Town and Morecambe just to stay in touch with teams showing far greater consistency in the race for the play-offs.

OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM POSH 0, BOLTON 5…

Posh substitute Ricky-Jade Jones battles for the ball against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.Posh substitute Ricky-Jade Jones battles for the ball against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.
Posh substitute Ricky-Jade Jones battles for the ball against Bolton. Photo: David Lowndes.
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1) There are pivotal moments in most matches and the chances missed by Ephron Mason-Clark and Jonson Clarke-Harris were key in a clash that was far more competitive than the final scoreline suggested. Bolton didn’t look that solid defensively before the break. Mason-Clark often bounded into space down the left. There was space to run into for Posh midfielders, in the first-half at least. Immediately after Bolton had scored their scruffy opening goal, Mason-Clark had a chance to equalise, but shot tamely at the goalkeeper. That was disappointing, but the headed chance Clarke-Harris put wide from a Joe Ward corner five minutes before the break was a shocker. The division’s top scorer was unmarked six yards from goal and two minutes later Bolton scored a second goal. If Posh had gone in at half-time on level terms we could well have seen a much different second-half. Such are the fine margins in football.

2) Of course the way Posh defended throughout the game meant Bolton could still have won comfortably no matter what the half-time scoreline. It was fascinating to hear Bolton boss Ian Evatt after the game say he believed his side would have joy by overloading on the Posh full-backs and exploiting the space left in behind. Certainly Nathan Thompson and Dan Butler struggled badly, but crucially Bolton also took advantage of their opportunities. Whereas Ephron Mason-Clark’s crossing was poor from many great positions (and Joe Ward usually hit the first man when he wasn’t passing the ball backwards), Bolton successfully found players arriving in the penalty area with well-timed runs. The second and third goals were prime examples of that. When a Posh player crosses the ball he can usually see three players in a line in the penalty area with no option of a cutback to the edge of the penalty area.

3) Bolton went into this game missing eight senior players, but because of the strength and depth of their squad they coped comfortably. The Trotters recruited heavily and well in January. It can’t do any harm having huge clubs on your doorstep as forward Shola Shoretire arrived on loan from Manchester United and central defender Luke Mbeta pitched up from Manchester City, also on loan. Bolton have had an exceptional goalkeeper in James Trafford on loan from City for almost two seasons now. Loans distort a club’s real strength and can cause recruitment issues in the future, especially for promoted teams, but if the facility is there it’s wise to use it. Shoretire was excellent yesterday, but a shame he spent so much time throwing himself to the ground under minimal contact and an even bigger shame a dreadful referee kept falling for it. The free kick award which led to the opening goal was ridiculously soft, but Frankie Kent gave Shoretire the chance to topple over which he took.

4) Of course all is not lost. Posh have a 75% win record under Ferguson in his fourth spell in charge, but it’s a big few days coming up, especially as teams in and around Posh are showing no signs of slowing down. Everyone is playing Tuesday and Saturday this week so there could well be some big changes even though the best sides are showing fantastically consistent form. Posh still have games in hand on the two teams directly above them, but Wycombe added a home win over Derby yesterday to a win not so long ago over Ipswich. You couldn’t possibly bet on Posh gaining similar results when they take on those opponents at London Road in the coming weeks. It’s doubtful Fergie will panic into making many team changes for the game at Fleetwood on the back of one very bad result, but on-loan left-back Nathanael Ogbeta should get his first start.

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5) Ricardo Santos has turned into a powerful League One defender, one well suited to playing in the middle of the back three. He’s much improved on the slow, clumsy defender Posh employed so credit to Bolton for seeing the potential and rescuing him from non league football. Remarkably, for someone with the physique to threaten from set-pieces, he hadn’t scored in 117 appearances for Bolton, but netted twice yesterday.

6) The last time Posh lost a Football League game 5-0 at home was to a flu-ridden Rotherham United side on Boxing Day, 1999. Before Posh played again they sold their best two players, Simon Davies and Matthew Etherington, and sacked coach Paul Ashworth. Five months later they were promoted from Division Three after a play-off final win over Darlington at Wembley. You never know!