The assistant boss, who took media duties after manager Darren Ferguson went home after feeling unwell, praised the way Coventry played through Posh’s diamond formation but lamented the way his side gifted away the lead and were unable to make the most of what was looking like a potential comeback at the end of the first half.
Coventry raced into a 2-0 lead in under 25 minutes but were pegged back by Jorge Grant’s excellent long-range finish after Posh had switched from the diamond to a wing-back system. After the break though, the visitors moved through the gears and won at a canter, finally making the game safe after Nathan Thompson’s late own goal and Matt Godden’s second of the game from a counter-attack.
Etherington said: “The players and the staff are down. Coventry were the better side and fully deserved to win the game, there was things we didn’t do well enough, particularly in transition. They were a lot more aggressive than us and that didn’t allow us to get control of the game and Coventry deserved their win.
“The first two are poor goals and at this level you can’t afford to do that and especially against a team like Coventry that are very good on the counter but we got a goal back and we looked better but on the day, Coventry were far better than us.
“There definitely was an opportunity to get back into the game if we were better in certain areas but in the second half, we didn’t do the things we wanted to and the final bit of quality wasn’t there and that’s been the case too often this season.
“They caused us problems, especially with the distances in our shape in the diamond. We were far too open and they were creating chances at will. We addressed that and I thought there was a better structure to our side from that point onwards and we stayed in the first half and got the goal and at 2-1 at half-time, with our home form, you’ve still got a chance. It wasn’t to be though, and Coventry stepped it up in the second half and fully deserved the win.”
Despite the disappointment of the result, Posh were boosted by other results as Middlesbrough staged a late comeback to beat Reading and Cardiff were beaten at home against ten-man Blackburn. This means they have lost no ground and still sit three points adrift of safety with a game in hand. Hull host tenth place Stoke at 12pm tomorrow (January 16).
Etherington has backed the squad to improve as they move towards a crucial February that sees Posh face Cardiff, Reading, Derby and Hull.
He added: “The manager has told the players that he’s not going to be too down on them, we just weren’t good enough and we’ve just got to continue to work with the group. They’re a good group and they won’t come away from each other. We’ve got some big games coming up next month and they are going to be the key to our season.
“Bali played his first 90 for a long time, he looked tired towards the end, but he’ll come on for that. Ricky and Jonno got more minutes but probably didn’t carry the threat we wanted them to. Kwame also came back in after a week off with illness and I thought he did ok. Lots to work on, lots of improvement.
“The games come thick and fast in this league, we know we will need to be much better against West Brom next week in terms of the transitions and the shape in our team. That’s what we’ll be working on this week and hopefully we’ll put in a better performance.”