Good pitches, bad pitches, big crowds, no crowds, nothing disturbs Peterborough United’s home comforts, plus the key men and the key passages of play in the win over MK Dons
After yesterday’s (January 16) clinical 3-0 win over MK Dons, Peterborough United have dropped just four points in nine home League One matches this season. No other team in the division has dropped fewer than eight.
Since the start of 2020 the Posh playing record at the Weston Homes Stadium in matches with points at stake reads P15 W12 D2 L1. That’s some record which if maintained will surely get Posh close to the top two, especially as no club currently sitting alongside Darren Ferguson’s side in the top 10 of League One has yet visited the city. Sixth-placed Charlton will be the first on Tuesday (January 19).
You’d think a Posh side that like to play out from the back, one with an outstanding dribbler in Siriki Dembele, would not be suited by the current heavy conditions, but since that water pipe burst Posh have won 4-1, 5-1 and 3-0 at home.
Posh actually have players who won’t be bothered by a tough playing surface. Ethan Hamilton’s strength and energy stands out, while for such a classy player, fellow midfielder Jack Taylor is also full of power.
Top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris looked knackered by the end of his time on the pitch yesterday, but he is built to plough through mud comfortably.
Perhaps Posh should water down any planned repair work.
OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM YESTERDAY...
1) The return to goalscoring form of Sammie Szmodics is the biggest plus from yesterday. He scored his first two League One goals since September 19 and it was a shame there was no crowd to give him the standing ovation he deserved when he departed 20 minutes from time. A fit and sharp Szmodics is capable of terrorising the third tier, but he needs service and Dembele’s, at times dazzling, contribution to the victory showed what a calamity it would be to lose him this month. Dembele set both Szmodics’ goals up with moments of quality no-one else in the Posh squad could have provided. The first goal arrived after a tackle, clever spin, a burst of pace and a precise through ball, the second after a dart on the outside and a perfect cross.
Barry Fry should turn his phone off until the end of January. Darragh MacAnthony should slap a £5 million price tag on Dembele, if he hasn’t already.
2) One big selection dilemma for Ferguson for the Charlton game stems from Nathan Thompson’s availability after a one-match ban. Before yesterday’s game I’d have assumed Thompson would walk straight back into the side as he will start attacks from the back as well as defend solidly. But Niall Mason was hugely impressive against MK Dons, certainly defensively. His reading of the game was impeccable. If Posh expect to have a lot of possession against Charlton, Ferguson may well go with Thompson, but that would be harsh on Mason who can never have played this well in a Posh shirt.
3) MK Dons are an interesting side to watch. In my opinion they are only a decent, and mobile, striker away from being a strong League One side. Posh kept in-form forward Cameron Jerome quiet yesterday by stopping the short balls into his feet that proved effective in the reverse fixture. That’s one reason why the reported 65% possession led to one shot on target in 90 minutes and that was a soft dribbler which caused Posh ‘keeper Christy Pym no alarm at all. Dons moved the ball quicker than they did when they dominated the fixture at stadium:mk and tried to get the ball to two skilful wing-backs in Matthew Sorinola and Ethan Laird as often as possible, but they had no threat in the Posh penalty box.
4) Scoring first was key in this game. MK Dons are a fast counter-attacking team, but Posh offered them no space in behind after taking the lead. In contrast to the visitors, Posh were lethal when given the opportunity to score. They converted three of their four chances to score.
5) The other key period in this game was the 10 minutes Posh spent with 10 men as Frankie Kent was off having stitches in a facial injury. Posh were 2-0 up at the time, but naturally MK hogged the ball against 10 men, yet created just one chance when Regan Poole’s superb 35-yard strike crashed against the crossbar and fell invitingly for substitute Joe Mason. Mark Beevers appeared quickly on the scene to make a great block and snuff out the danger. Beevers stood tall in Kent’s absence and the pair were outstanding together in the second period either side of Mason. If MK had pulled a goal back before the break the second-half could have become far more uncomfortable than it was.
6) Posh delivered the only home win in League One yesterday as the biggest clubs flexed their muscles. Portsmouth, Sunderland, Charlton and Ipswich all won on their travels as did the consistent Doncaster side. It turned out to be bad day for the top two Lincoln, who didn’t play, and Hull who were held at home by Blackpool. Expect many more twists and turns and fluctuating league positions as so many games are crammed into the next six weeks.