POSH TALKING POINTS: ‘Happy at the Valley, but let’s not think it’s all over, defensive excellence, a lethal marksman, don’t forget the other goalkeeper and well done Grant McCann’
The champagne is on ice and the fat lady is clearing her throat, but care is still required before celebrations in an empty stadium and thousands of sitting rooms across the city can take place.
Following a hard-fought win at Charlton yesterday (April 24) courtesy of a fine early strike from a goal machine, a brilliant penalty save from an on-loan ‘keeper and some impressive defensive discipline it’s no wonder Posh boss Darren Ferguson and his team were happy at the Valley.
It will take a monumental collapse for Posh not to now return to the Championship after eight frustrating seasons, but there is no point in upsetting the Football Gods by believing it’s all over.
A point from a home game against League One’s most out-of-form team Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday (April 27) knocks Sunderland out of the race for a top two finish. A win means Lincoln City’s merry band of loan rangers can’t catch Posh either and so that would be that. ‘Operation Vengeance’ (copyright Darragh MacAnthony) will be deemed a successful mission and Ferguson will be awarded the freedom of the city, possibly, for winning a fourth Posh promotion.
Of course failure to beat Donny coupled with a win for Lincoln at Shrewsbury on the same night and the Imps would have plenty of motivation to then win at London Road next weekend and that could lend itself to a nervy final day. Actually that doesn’t bear thinking about and apologies for even mentioning it.
OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM THE WIN AT CHARLTON...
1) Posh have now won six League One games 1-0 this season and Jonson Clarke-Harris scored the goal in four of them. Lethal marksmen make such a difference. It’s why Posh look like joining free-scoring Hull in the Championship next season.
2) Defensive excellence gives you a great chance of winning even when the forwards are misfiring. It happened with Posh who enjoyed just 37% possession at the Valley yesterday and yet, a penalty aside, they created the four best chances of the game. Sammie Szmodics could easily have claimed that elusive hat-trick as he missed two one-on-ones and a virtual open goal. It didn’t matter because goalkeeper Josef Bursik, centre-backs Frankie Kent and Mark Beevers, and left-back Dan Butler were outstanding against a side who had won their previous match 6-0 away from home.
3) How lucky were Posh to be able to replace injury victim Christy Pym with Bursik? Very lucky according to raging Sunderland fans and they have a point as it’s a daft rule that allowed Ferguson to bring him to the club at such a crucial stage. He looks a class ‘keeper though and he appears remarkably cool for a 20 year-old. His cracking penalty save was obviously a major moment yesterday, but he exudes confidence whether dealing with crosses or clearing his lines under pressure with a booming kick. Maybe Barry Fry wasn’t exaggerating for once when he recently claimed a £30 million ‘keeper had moved to London Road. Posh fans shouldn’t forget Pym’s contribution to the season though. He was consistently good until a wobbly month that immediately preceded his injury.
4) Away form was a big Posh Achiiles heel for much of the season. A good time then to win three away games in a row without conceding a goal. Posh now have the sixth best away record in the division to back up the best home record. They have 10 away wins in a Football League season for just the eighth time in the club’s history.
5) Can Posh now claim to be ‘mentality monsters?’ It was a strong effort to bounce back from last Tuesday’s disappointing defeat at home to Gillingham to win at a team that was on a 10-game unbeaten League One and still had plenty to play for themselves. There were some big individual displays, but collectively this was outstanding in terms of workrate and commitment.
6) It was only right for Ferguson to congrataulate Hull City and manager Grant McCann for sealing their own promotion to the Championship with two games to spare, and not just because their win at Lincoln was such a big help to Posh. McCann, a former player at Posh under Ferguson and an ex-boss at London Road, recruited well in the summer. It helps to know League One and what works in the third tier, a fact that has caught out two of the other big clubs in the division, Sunderland and Ipswich in the last two seasons. It would be lovely if Posh could pip the Tigers - they have tricky games against Wigan and Charlton to come - to the title though.