Peterborough United played a big part in a great game, but now face a nervous week, and why are we booing former players?
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Of course Peterborough United fans will be frustrated at losing for the second successive League One match, but, while losing to a team as ordinary as Northampton Town should hurt, yesterday’s 4-2 home reverse at the hands of Derby County should generate different feelings.
Derby had started the season fitfully, but could easily end up winning what already looks like being a wide open race for promotion from League One. They certainly played like champions for 16 minutes towards the end of the first-half at the Weston Homes Stadium when they blew Posh away with four unanswered goals.
They delivered a display of finishing beyond the likes of Posh and, probably, the rest of League One, but either side of that deadly match-winning burst Darren Ferguson’s young, vibrant Posh team were their equals.
In fact they were superior for the first quarter of the game, a point recognised by Derby’s multi-promotion winning manager Paul Warne during the match, as he altered his side tactically, and after it when he was effusive towards his Posh counterpart, his players and the club as a whole.
Both teams deserve plenty of credit for delivering a great spectacle of high-tempo attacking football, one helped by the relaxed refereeing style of relative rookie Lewis Smith.
As Warne said afterwards ‘both sets of players were extremely tired at the end.’
OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM POSH 2, DERBY 4...
1) Posh are 10th in League One, but bizarrely just three points off top spot. Posh can expect to make some forward progress again once they get next Saturday’s tough trip to unbeaten Portsmouth out of the way. Judging by Friday comments made by Ferguson and chairman Darragh MacAnthony it looks like Posh could send two entirely different teams to Fratton Park next week with this season’s back-up players, and some very young guns, sent to contest the Carabao Cup second round tie on Tuesday before standing down again for Saturday’s League One clash. It’s a sensible move.
2) Derby County manager Paul Warne, like Cobblers’ boss Jon Brady to be fair, appear to be splendid characters. Warne was full of praise for Posh and the way they conduct themselves at League One level and he remains convinced a top six spot is there for Ferguson’s side again this season. He might be speaking prematurely. Judgement, and predictions, must be reserved until after the transfer window shuts, apparently at 11pm on Friday, September 1 and not 24 hours earlier as many of us had wrongly, but very sensibly, assumed! There's every chance Posh might emerge on the morning of the Portsmouth League One match with a weaker squad, shorn of their most experienced player in Jonson Clarke-Harris and of their most gifted defender in Ronnie Edwards. If they played their last games for Posh yesterday, Clarke-Harris said goodbye with a goal and plenty of impressive effort, while Edwards will have to be judged on an immense body of work rather than an indifferent display against Derby.
3) Referee Smith was excellent yesterday and it’s baffling what upset Ferguson so much he was shown two yellow cards in quick succession. The second appeared to be brandished because he sarcastically applauded the first caution with a zealous fourth official eager to dob the boss in, but it would have been good to hear Ferguson’s version of events. Sadly daft EFL rules ban red-carded managers from conducting post-match press conferences which is more of a reward than a punishment for a manager with tough questions to answer. Ferguson needs to start behaving though. He can can hardly moan at players for dissent cards if he’s picking them up every Saturday. That’s four now, including the two he received yesterday.
4) There is something to work with in Joel Randall. He can look elegant in possession, but the ‘number 10’ role demands goals and assists (think Lee Tomlin and Sammie Szmodics) and he didn’t look like providing either yesterday or at Sixfields.
5) Warne was gracious enough to admit things went for his side in that 16-minute scoring purple patch. The cross for the first goal took a kindly deflection and the third one had more than a touch of good fortune, but all four goals also arrived because of poor marking and the lack of a physical challenge. Contrast that with the number of blocks and deflections of Posh shots by Derby defenders.
6) Posh fans are usually pretty generous towards former players, but not so yesterday as Nat Mendez-Laing and Conor Washington were both booed by home fans when susbtituted. Weird really as neither player behaved badly at Posh. Mendez-Laing was a big part of the 100-goal League One promotion season of 2010-11 and some impressive Championship performances that followed, while Washington went on a terrific scoring run which led to a £2.5 million transfer fee in the middle of the 2015-16 season. He didn’t ask to leave and Posh sold after receiving an offer that even now seems too good to be true.