PETERBOROUGH UNITED TALKING POINTS: ‘Firing blanks all season, it’s a lack of quality rather than intent, reputations enhanced by not playing, strong defensive form and why Reading will probably finish above Posh’

Of all the damning statistics that accompany a dismal Peterborough United season, failing to score in 17 of 30 Championship fixtures tops the lot.

By Alan Swann
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 7:38 am
Joe Ward's late scoring chance in the Posh v Reading game. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Joe Ward's late scoring chance in the Posh v Reading game. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

That’s a staggering 57% of matches played without a goal and the current run of four scoreless matches is not even the worst run of blanks this season. How on earth can you expect to stay up when executing the most important skill of them is beyond you?

Obviously you can’t and, although the fat lady can’t be expected to start singing with 16 games to go, she can surely start clearing her throat. Posh have offered plenty of sweat and effort in their last two games, but without goals there is literally no hope.

Posh couldn’t even score at home against a Reading side who ended up picking up their first Championship points for 44 days from a goalless draw at the Weston Homes Stadium last night (February 16). Posh also didn’t score in a home draw against rock-bottom Barnsley earlier this season in similarly dreadful conditions.

Posh midfielder Jeando Fuchs sends a header goalwards against Reading. Photo: David Lowndes.

No matter what some fans say it’s a lack of quality rather than intent. Posh played relatively well again last night. They were the better side. They poured forward in numbers with both full-backs joining in and midfielders popping up close to the Reading penalty area, but promising positions too often led to wayward long shots or intercepted crosses. The lack of movement in the penalty area doesn’t help.

Joe Ward had the best scoring opportunity 10 minutes from time, but couldn’t convert even when unchallenged 12 yards from goal with no ‘keeper in the net.

Talking points from Posh v Reading...

1) It’s a football truism that players not in a struggling side see their reputations enhanced in proportion to the length of absence. Some fans are calling for hard-running Sammie Szmodics and creative midfielder Jorge Grant to be recalled to the starting line-up forthwith which conveniently ignores how disappointing they have both been for most of the season. They have talent for sure and could well have plenty to offer in the remaining games, but they have been part of the problem so expecting them to be the cure seems optimistic.

Action from Posh v Reading. Photo: David Lowndes.

2) If Reading keep Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite fit I don’t see how they finish below Posh. They are far more likely to score goals and deliver match-winning performances than any member of the Posh squad. Last night was as bad a result for Reading as Posh, but a glorious one for Derby County who must be favourites to win the mini-table of four at the bottom of the table.

3) One suspects the departure of unpopular manager Velijko Paunovic could also prompt improvement for the Royals, but what a nasty, toxic atmosphere the visiting fans created after the final whistle last night. I can see no good in that level of vitriol and abuse. Reading is a most unhappy club and the fans are not helping the fight against the relegation. In contrast Posh fans were good before, during and after the game. One assumes it’s not so easy for the one-track minds of manager Darren Ferguson’s social media critics to be heard at an actual game.

4) Aside from the occasional lapse, Posh were very good defensively last night, against a potentially potent attack. Fair play to Josh Knight for rebounding from his Cardiff troubles with two strong displays. It’s likely Posh signed Bali Mumba and Hayden Coulson on loan in January to play as wing-backs, but Posh have looked much more solid in a flat back four and Nathan Thompson’s form is such that Mumba is not likely to win back his best position of right-back.

5) February was going to make or break Posh according to Ferguson. One point and no goals suggests it’s going only one way. Posh need to win at Derby on Saturday to give themselves a chance. Anything less and it could be curtains. Posh have Fulham away after Pride Park and top five sides Huddersfield and Bournemouth in their following two away games.