Peterborough United still have straws to clutch, McCann v Ferguson update, encouraging signs, one class act, one managerial mistake

Optimistic Peterborough United fans can still indulge in some straw clutching.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 7:10 am
Ronnie Edwards of Peterborough United gets to grips with Antoine Semenyo of Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Ronnie Edwards of Peterborough United gets to grips with Antoine Semenyo of Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

If Posh can beat out-of-form Blackburn at the Weston Homes Stadium and Barnsley at Oakwell over Easter it’s quite likely they will be just three points from safety with three games to go as Reading have holiday games at promotion-chasing Sheffield United and at home to suddenly bang in-form Swansea City.

Admittedly that’s a huge ‘if’ for a side who have now won just six Championship games out of 41, but the alternative is to shrug your shoulders and give up, and this Posh team are not showing signs of doing that.

Yesterday at Bristol City they suffered a double whammy of falling behind to a goal against the run of play just before the break and a blatant red card just before the hour mark. They equalised quickly and left Ashton Gate with a point from a 1-1 draw and yet the overwhelming feeling after the game was one of disappointment.

Joe Ward of Peterborough United is shown a straight red card by referee John Brooks. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

There haven’t been too many games that have ‘got away’ from Posh this season, but they’ve surrendered four points in the last two matches from matches they should have won. Posh rarely troubled City goalkeeper Dan Bentley in the second-half, but they had the control and created the chances to have been a couple of goals clear at the break rather than a goal behind.

TALKING POINTS FROM CITY v POSH...

1) Posh fans seem happy with Grant McCann’s efforts since replacing Darren Ferguson as first-team manager late in February, although those suggesting the swap should have made earlier seem to forget the current manager was still in a bigger Championship job until the end of January. McCann has overseen just one win in nine Championship matches and his Posh team has currently accumulated an average of 0.77 points a game (7 points, 9 matches) compared to the 0.67 points per game Ferguson’s side managed (21 points, 30 matches). McCann’s sample is too small to be of much significance, but Posh have been uncompetitive in a third of his games (Hull, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough). And yet one can see where McCann’s supporters are coming from. Posh are unbeaten in their last three away games (two at promotion contenders) and collected five points which is one more than they picked up in their first 18 road trips. It’s a sign of a team with organisation and fight.

2) That fight and determination has also led to Posh picking up points in four of their last six matches after falling behind.

Jonson Clarke-Harris (hidden) lunges ahead of teammate Josh Knight to score for Posh at Bristol City. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

3) It was a pleasingly adventurous formation and starting line-up used by McCann at City yesterday, even if playing Joe Ward and Harrison Burrows as full-backs four days after saying neither of them were full-backs was a little bit surprising. But four at the back and four out-and-out attacking players would have paid off with some better finishing and a little bit of luck. Posh played some good stuff before half-time when they looked sharper and passed the ball better then their hosts. With Ward suspended for the next game one assumes on-loan Bali Mumba will play on the right side of the defence which will hardly supress the attacking nature of the side.

4) Teenage Posh defender Ronnie Edwards is usually outmatched physically at Championship level and he’s not the quickest, except in his head. He is smart and reads the game well. He was outjumped for the City goal which was a failure of defensive organisation by leaving him with a much bigger opponent to mark rather than an individual fault. But he was oustanding in the second-half after Posh had been reduced to 10 men. His intelligence and anticipation enabled him to make numerous blocks and interceptions. Spurs might well have been watching.

5) If McCann made a mistake yesterday it was taking Ricky-Jade Jones off as soon as Ward was sent off. His express pace would surely have made it easier for Posh to get up the pitch and trouble a ponderous defence? As it was Posh only ventured into City’s penalty area from a free kick in the final 30 minutes which was a disappointment given how vital a win was for McCann’s men.