Peterborough United manager working on a first-half solution, defensive problems started further forward, an inactive club record signing even though forwards lack harmony and a shambolic iFollow service
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson was at a loss to explain one Posh theme this season... just why does his team play so much better in the second-half of home matches compared to the first-half?
“I’ll have to go away and think about that,” Ferguson said. “It’s certainly true and something I need to look at to find a solution.”
Posh were poor in the first halves against Fleetwood and Swindon, and probably didn’t deserve to be in front at the break against Oxford in their three other home matches this season.
It happened again last night (October 27) as Posh, even after the boost of an early Jonson Clarke-Harris goal, went on to look second best before the break against a Burton Albion team currently propping up the League One table.
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I’d be confident if Posh had attacked with the same verve, pace and energy they showed after the break for the entire game we would have been celebrating a ninth straight home win and a sixth success in a row this season. And a comfortable win at that.
Burton played far better than their league position promised they would, but they wouldn’t have travelled with a great deal of confidence having collected just two points from their previous six outings and as they were missing a couple of key defenders.
A ruthless approach is needed when coming up against teams carrying those sort of problems, but Posh passed the ball too slowly and too predictably and Burton visibly grew in confidence.
Take away the disappointment of the result and it was an exciting, fun contest though as two teams went all out for victory with a draw a fair result.
Other talking points from last night...
1) My stats man tells me the Posh defensive numbers (chances given up) have become less impressive since the return to a back four, although it is a very small sample so far. Certainly Dan Butler has struggled against some tricky opponents since moving from wing-back to left back, but many of last night’s problems started from dreadful passes further up the pitch. Jack Taylor, Reece Brown and Joe Ward were all guilty of surrendering possession sloppily and then watching as Burton broke impressively and at pace. Posh need to sharpen this part of their game up. They need to be more positive and quicker on the ball. Siriki Dembele, Sammie Szmodics and Ward will terrify opponents once the service to them becomes more accurate and more regular.
2) Burton’s first goal was superbly created and finished as all four of their attacking players combined before Kane Hemmings supplied a fine finish. It’s the type of goal I can’t see Posh currently scoring as the front four have rarely been in complete harmony this season. Posh’s best attacking moments last night usually involved Dembele beating defenders, running inside and playing Ward in down the right. Jonson Clarke-Harris tended to slow attacks down, but he would benefit from Dembele playing closer to him. Dembele off Ivan Toney worked outstandingly well last season and there is no reason why a similar approach wouldn’t work with Clarke-Harris.
3) Burton’s attacking approach might have been borne out of necessity given their injury problems, but credit to them for playing so positively against a team with a fearsome home record, even after drawing level on the hour mark. They hunted Posh down all evening, pressing relentlessly and playing with plenty of spirit.
4) A penny for Mo Eisa’s thoughts. The club record signing hasn’t appeared in a League One match since the Fleetwood win on September 19, the second game of the season. He didn’t even come on when Posh needed a goal at Sunderland or when they needed a goal last night. He simply does not fit into the current Posh system and it’s hard to see him making an impact this season unless there is a complete re-think on tactics.
5) It’s a safe bet Eisa would have made a better fist of the late chance spurned so spectacularly badly by Ryan Broom last night. That looked like the shot of a player with little confidence. Broom was replaced by a 17 year-old at Hull at the weekend when Posh were losing which couldn’t have been good for his morale.
6) If Posh had drawn at Hull on Saturday and won last night the four points gained would have been more postively received. Winning at the team who were top followed by failing to beat the team at the bottom is a head-scratcher on the surface, but there will be plenty of shocks in this strange season. Posh have 19 points from nine games (five of them away) so the big picture remains rosey.
7) With no fans able to watch matches you’d think the EFL would ensure the iFollow service was working perfectly. But no, my Twitter timeline was full of moans and groans from Posh fans unable to see the action they’d paid for either by purchasing a season ticket or by splashing out a tenner as a one-off experience. As Posh co-owner Darragh MacAnthony told the EFL after last night’s game: “You haven’t sorted a bailout from above nor a deal with the Government so can you at least sort out the ridiculous Ifollow service for our fans. Shambles. Sort it out & do it quickly. We are all thin on patience at the moment.”