Peterborough United manager takes the positives from ‘the best away performance of the season,’ but admits there is still improvement required
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson insists his beaten players should take great belief from their ‘best away perfrmance of the season’ at Stoke City today (November 20).
Posh went down 2-0 - their eighth defeat in nine away games - to goals in the third and 96th minute despite dominating possession at the Bet365 Stadium. Posh conceded the second goal to 10 men after a late red card for Stoke substitute Sam Surridge.
Not for the first time this season poor decision-making and a lack of shooting accuracy cost Posh dear. They enjoyed 14 shots at goal, but only one was on target. Jack Taylor came closest to scoting with a second-half 25 yarder that rapped the underside of the crossbar.
The defeat, coupled with Hull City’s home win over Birmingham City, dropped Posh into the Championship relegation zone ahead of another tough away game at eighth-placed Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday (November 24).
“I was pleased with the level of performance,” Ferguson insisted. “If we reach that standard often enough we will be okay, but it’s no good coming off saying we played well after we’ve lost. That’s not what we are about.
“But, and I told the players in the dressing room after the game, this was a performance that should give them plenty of belief.
“Not many teams will come to Stoke, who are fifth in the league, and have 63% possession, and dominate the game like we have, I watched them annihilate West Brom here.
“It was a good performance apart from the last bit. Fourteen shots and only one on target is a big disappointment and for some reason we seemed reluctant to shoot. Look at their first goal. The lad has a shot from way out that gets a deflection and goes in. That’s what can happen, but we don’t pull the trigger early enough. For all our possession we didn’t test the goalkeeper enough.
“It was a sign of the way things are going for us right now that a deflection takes the ball into the goal early in the game, but the response was very good. We did some work psychologically this week to help us react better if things go against us and we did.
“There were some very good individual performances. Siriki Dembele was unplayable at times. It was a good team performance apart from the last bit. They are fine details that we need to put right, but this was our best away performance of the season.
“It’s not often you lose and your supporters give you a standing ovation, but it happened to us here. There is a right way to lose a game and that was us today.
“The fans know it and the players need to know it, but if we keep that standard up we will win games.
“We got caught with a sucker punch for the second goal late on and we took some pressure at the start of the second-half, but we were the better team for most of the game.”
Ferguson left Jonson Clarke-Harris on the substitutes’ bench and recalled Jorge Grant in place of Harrison Burrows as Posh reverted to three centre-backs and two wingbacks for this game.
“I felt there would be more space in behind their defenders than in front of them so I wanted pace up top,” Ferguson explained. Ans Sammie Szmodics and Siriki caused them problems. I wanted Jorge in the side as the man most likely to find the front two.
“I will treat each game individually. It’s hard for us to keep playing the same formation in every game.”