TALKING POINTS: Peterborough United take a point from Bournemouth in a night of progress which should be celebrated
Posh defended excellently to keep Premier League chasing Bournemouth at bay on Wednesday (September 29) in a performance that should not be clouded by table-watchers.
The mood going into the match was pretty low. Posh had served up another away day collapse against Coventry last time out, while Bournemouth came in riding high on the back of a four-match winning streak, knowing that a fifth would take them back to top of the pile.
In an obscene difference in class between the sides, Scott Parker’s side put out a midfield trio consisting of Jefferson Lerma, a man they paid €30m for, Philip Billing, who was starred over the course of three seasons in the Premier League, and Welsh international David Brooks. That is without mentioning the likes of ex-Celtic man Ryan Christie, Championship star of last season Jamal Lowe, who can’t even get into this team, and Champions League winner and 61-time England international Gary Cahill.
On paper, Posh had no right to get anything but, of course, this is football and Posh’s band of players assembled from the lower reaches of the Football League and the non-league were excellent value for their point. They competed well from start to finish, defended when needed and rode out tough spells; particularly at the start of the second half when Posh couldn’t get out for almost the entirety of the first 15 minutes.
The result showed progress and will undoubtedly provide the side with a confidence boost going forward. The first half performance was the same as Posh turned in against Cardiff, West Brom, Reading and Coventry, looked on par with the opposition, comfortable in defence but not overly threatening, however, this time there was no sting in the tail. There were no late heartbreak and no mad five-minute period where everything went wrong.
Apart from the fact that Bournemouth play a much more watchable brand of football, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were watching rerun of that game, given how the script unfolded. Yet crucially, we saw the progression as Posh got over the line to take the point. That is encouraging and gives players and fans alike a reason to believe.
2- The downside seen by many was that, with Nottingham Forest winning away at Barnsley last night, Posh slipped back into the bottom three. So what? Posh had an extremely tough fixture and did the best they could have realistically could have hoped for in securing a point. It is ten games in, Posh are in touch with the rest of the league, back-to-back wins could see them move into the top ten. You can only control your own results and Posh got a positive one; there is no need for the constant table-watching every week at this stage of the season. Besides, who are we supposed to be watching? I find it hard to believe, given the stature, playing squad and financial resources available to the likes of Swansea, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff, will be basement dwellers by the time the league properly takes shape. The only side Posh should be focusing on is Posh.
3- Darren Ferguson got the tactics spot on tonight. When a team is in a tough spot or has a game that can essentially be deemed as a free hit, the temptation is there to take all of the shackles off and give the players the freedom just go for it and have fun. Ferguson actually did the opposite last night. He wasn’t interested in the fact it was a home match and the fact that the club’s away form is putting more pressures on getting wins at home; choosing instead to tighten things up. He spoke after the game about how Bournemouth would have torn Posh to shreds if Posh had opened up and looking at the way they attacked at times, he was absolutely spot on.
4- Harrison Burrows was a welcome returner to the side. He did what no other Posh player has shown a willingness to do this season and that is to pick up the ball and straight away look to cross it into the box. For a club that has one fit striker and for that man to not be blessed with mobility, you would think Posh would do all they can to play to his strengths. Jonson Clarke-Harris does not want to be playing intricate passes with his back to goal or being asked to run in behind; put it into the box and let him battle for it. You can have your own opinion on his ability but he is all Posh have and they have to work with that until January and find ways to get the best out of him.
5- Sammie Szmodics can add something to this side. Darren Ferguson has to be commended for his substitutions last night, both personnel wise and when they came on. They were all made in a short space of time when Posh had begun to fall flat. They injected new life into the side and managed to get Posh out of their own final third. Szmodics was very impressive, he never stopped running and offering movement, something which Posh lack and is why they are capable are having the ball for long periods and not looking threatening. He was unfortunate that his teammates did not often spot the runs he was making. They were frequent and could have been dangerous. A less mobile striker needs runners off him and Szmodics certainly fits the bill more than Jorge Grant, whose talents lie in the passing arena.
Then of course there is the old club factor for Saturday’s match. Szmodics was barely given a look-in at Bristol City, so seems a prime candidate to score a goal. Posh should take all the omens they can get!