Peterborough United talking points from an agonising home defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion: ‘No obvious right to get this close to Championship heavy hitters, Fergie’s form was good as was that of the defence and goalkeeper, but decision-making at the other end was poor, Baggies benefitted from their own time wasting, and outstanding home support’

Peterborough United really had no right pushing West Bromwich Albion this hard in a Championship fixture.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 29th August 2021, 11:00 am
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United battles with Semi Ajayi of West Bromwich Albion. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Two actual divisions separated the sides last season as the Baggies bumbled along at the bottom of the Premier League while Posh were winning promotion from League One.

And financially the gap between the clubs remains vast. Parachute payments keep cushioning West Brom’s regular failures at the top level, while Posh only had the largesse of their ownership, and to a lesser extent their fanbase, to keep them afloat during a crowd-free pandemic.

To see Posh go toe-to-toe on and off the field was most encouraging then. On the field it was a mighty, if largely quality-free, battle and off it excitable Baggies boss Valerien Ismael appeared to suffer enormous stress as his side struggled to win a game they presumably viewed as a banker. How else to explain behaviour so unbecoming after the joy of a 94th-minute winning goal?

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West Brom's long throw man Darnell Furlong with his ball-drying aid. Photo; Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Ismael has imposed a basic, bullying style of football on his team and there’s a great chance it will prove successful, but if it doesn’t he might find he falls out of favour quickly with his own fanbase. Ugly football is only tolerated if you win, especially at a club where expectations are so great.

Presumably survival will be seen as success by Posh fans. They offered generous support to their team after the game, and that doesn’t happen very often after a defeat.

OTHER TALKING POINTS from last night’s 1-0 Posh defeat.

1) The result aside it was a good night for Posh boss Darren Ferguson who set his side up well and was then a comfortable points winner of a verbal joust with his opposite number after the game.

Joe Waed in action for Posh against West Brom. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

It’s doubtful many saw Dan Butler being preferred to Josh Knight in a back three when you know an aerial onslaught is likely to occur, but it gave the side natural balance with the specialist left-back excelling in his new role until he couldn’t match the speed of Matt Phillips in the build-up to the only goal of the game.

2) Posh defended set pieces impressively for 95 minutes and thus exposed the limitations of their visitors’ attacking strategy. Posh left three men up when defending corners forcing West Brom to leave as many men back thus giving goalkeeper Christy Pym far more freedom and many more sight lines in his own area. The Posh number one responded with a far more positive and confident performance. From the long throws that have troubled Championship teams this season Posh won most first headers and were first to all the balls that did drop in the area. Jonson Clarke-Harris gave an Ivan Toney-like display of set-piece defending and praise doesn’t come any higher.

3) Of course pride in a strong performance against superior opponents is gratifying, but points would be preferable. It should be easy to get ‘up’ for a game live on television against one of the division’s big hitters with outstanding support behind you. It’s disappointing, having seen last night’s display, that Posh were so limp at Preston in their previous outing. This level of commitment needs to be the norm and not just in home matches.

4) West Brom’s goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made just one save in the whole game, a comfortable grab of a Jack Marriott shot in the first-half. Posh found themselves in promising positions on several occasions, particularly after the game opened up a little in the second-half, but the final ball was lacking or the wrong option was taken. A terrific inside pass from Clarke-Harris after the break gave substitute Jack Taylor the chance to free Harrison Burrows whose speed would have at least guaranteed a shot on goal, but instead the midfielder went to Jack Marriott who was marked and the chance quickly evaporated. Chances to score aren’t going to come around as easily this season so the decision-making will need to improve. Creativity wasn’t helped by Siriki Dembele’s presence on the substitutes’ bench for all but the final 30 minutes. His injury niggles need to be cleared up to give Posh the best chance of staying up. Offers to buy him also need to be resisted ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for transfers unless the recruitment committee have a ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ style shock up their sleeve

5) Watching West Brom’s throw-in specialist Darnell Furlong saunter towards the visiting support several times to receive a ball-drying aid in the final stages of the game was baffling. Were the Baggies’ so lacking in imagination they need to put everything into a set-piece to have the best chance of beating Posh? And why in these days of Covid was a player who has two teammates currently self-isolating allowed to pick up a random piece of clothing? Referee James Linnington took too long to caution Furlong for wasting time. It’s pretty galling that West Brom scored in the fifth minute of time added on for their own time wasting.

6) Posh co-owner Darragh MacAnthony stated ahead of this game that hard work was the key ingerdient for his team this season, He didn’t have anything to complain about last night.