Peterborough United talking points: ‘No more false dawns, Ricky’s perfect role, greater confidence should bring better form, surprising choice of captain and Darren Ferguson joins illustrious company’

Peterborough United are worthy of much credit for beating a side as slick and successful as Queens Park Rangers twice this season.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 6th February 2022, 6:39 am
Ricky-Jade Jones of Peterborough United celebrates his goal against QPR. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Ricky-Jade Jones of Peterborough United celebrates his goal against QPR. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

But Posh played much better when they defeated Mark Warburton’s men 2-1 at home in an October Championship fixture than they did in seeing them off 2-0 in an FA Cup tie at the Weston Homes Stadium yesterday (February 5).

And what happened straight after that first meeting? Posh went down to Swansea, conceded a goal before they had touched the ball and playing appallingly in losing 3-0. Posh head back to South Wales again to face Cardiff City on Wednesday (February 9) and this time they just have to build on a morale-boosting victory and head back over the Seven Bridge accompanied by a positive result.

There can be no more false dawns. Posh cannot follow a plucky home display with any more pitiful efforts on the road. It’s curtains as a Championship club if they do.

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Posh captain Oliver Norburn leads his team out. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

This is not an attempt to pour cold water on what was a much-needed victory against quality opposition. There was much to admire about the Posh performance, but even manager Darren Ferguson wasn’t entirely satisfied which was actually encouraging to hear. This is no time to rest on laurels.

TALKING POINTS from the win over QPR...

1) Posh have played better with the ball than this and lost this season (Forest, Stoke, Fulham, Bristol City), but yesterday they got the breaks in both penalty areas. Joe Ward took advantage of a handy deflection to open the scoring and then before half-time the ball bounced dangerously in the Posh penalty on a handful of occasions, but usually to a home player. The Posh defence - the three centre-backs were very good together with Mark Beevers enjoying playing against largely immobile forwards - deserved credit for their positioning and blocking skills. The attitude from the team was first-class so maybe they earned their luck, but the biggest gain from this win will be the boost to morale and confidence it should bring. Better form could well follow. That’s the hope.

2) Ferguson wasn’t happy with his side in the first-half and nor should he have been even though they reached the interval in front. Posh couldn’t get out of their own half for long spells because Jonson Clarke-Harris couldn’t hold the ball up and Jack Marriott was either reluctant to spin in behind a defence not blessed with much pace or wasn’t spotted when poised. Clarke-Harris’s departure at the break was tactical and the improvement was soon obvious. It will be a major surprise if last season’s top scorer starts at Cardiff on Wednesday as Posh need to bring pace to the attack. Callum Morton could be the man to start.

New Posh signing Reece Brown of Peterborough United replaces Kwame Poku against QPR. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

3) All four of the Posh substitutions yesterday worked well. Sammie Szmodics brought energy and workrate, Reece Brown brought calmness and control to midfield, while Hayden Coulson looked a pacy wing-back.

And Ricky-Jade Jones was a revelation. His finish for his goal was instinctive and brilliant and his sheer speed made for an uncomfortable last quarter for the visiting defence. The pressing from the front was now fierce and attemped clearances were blocked. Coming on as a substitute when Posh are ahead seems the ideal role for the 19 year-old who has the pace to exploit teams pushing up for an equaliser. It would be much harder for him, with a technique that still requires work, when teams are sitting back, but what a day for a local 19 year-old who has been at the club for 10 years and who has suffered an injury-plagued campaign.

4) It was a shock to see Brown and Coulson start on the substitutes bench. An FA Cup tie seemed a great time to get some much-needed minutes into the legs of players who have hardly seen any action all season. I would expect them to start at Cardiff and it will be interesting to discover whether or not freshness gives Posh as much of an advantage in the final stages of the season as Ferguson believes.

5) There has been some disappointing revisionism re Siriki Dembele. Just because the manner of his departure left a sour taste (a la Marcus Maddison) we shouldn’t forget what an exciting talent he was. Kwame Poku has impressed recently, but he is not at Dembele’s level yet and Ferguson was right to state he must look after a player who will no longer surprise the opposition.

New Peterborough United signing Hayden Coulson on his debut against QPR. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

6) Keeping Oliver Norburn as skipper was a strange one, and the fact he is yet to offer a public word on his transfer dealine day shenanigans involving Blackpool is disappointing. But Norburn did his talking on the pitch yesterday. His last two performances - one either side of Blackpool’s interest becoming public knowledge - have not suggested a man unhappy to be at London Road. He played with his usual level of commitment and aggression against QPR and if he keeps that up until the end of the season he should be given a fond farewell in the summer, if he gets his desired move.

7) Darren Ferguson now joins Gordon Clark (1964-65), Noel Cantwell (1974-75), Peter Morris (1980-81) and John Wile (1985-86) in managing Posh into the fifth round of the FA Cup. Only Clark went went any further.