TALKING POINTS: ‘This is much more fun than hiding away and voting yourself a promotion, savour a fine win on a bogey ground, selection gamble just about came off, Reed’s renaissance, a remarkable goalscorer and welcome back Jack!’
And breathe. The last five minutes of Good Friday action must have been more anxiety-inducing for those watching a results teleprinter than those present at Highbury.
Posh were third with 10 minutes to go when Sunderland took the lead against Oxford and then top for about 30 seconds following the latest exploits of free scoring striker Jonson Clarke-Harris But then Hull City found an injury time winner at Crewe to return the League One table to its 3pm status. The Tigers lead, Posh are second and Sunderland are lurking menacingly in third. This is much more fun than hiding away and voting yourself a promotion.
It’s not going to get any easier on the nerves on Easter Monday either as Posh host Sunderland while hoping for a favour from local rivals Northampton Town at Hull. Not that any set of results will settle anything in this unique season. LIne of Duty is more predictable than thios hectic campaign.
For Posh, who haven’t reached the play-offs since 2014, to even be inbetween two relatively huge clubs is a splendid achievement, but they will view a third place finish as a disappointment having got themselves into such a favourable position.
It is surely a three-horse face to the line now unless someone suffers a collapse of Devon Loch proportions. Posh are 10 points clear of fourth-placed Lincoln with eight matches to go.
OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM FLEETWOOD.
1) A PT pre-match poll on Twitter asking whether teenage talent Harrison Burrows or mercurial winger Siriki Dembele should start at Fleetwood yesterday (April 2) went 70-30 in the youngster’s favour. Posh boss Darren Ferguson agreed, but it was more of a surprise that Jack Taylor didn’t start in central midfield. If if it was a selection gamble it paid off. Taylor and Dembele played for 30 minutes each, enough to sharpen themselves up after injury, but not enough to put them at risk of fatigue. Ferguson said he couldn’t break up a team that won 7-0 in their previous outing, but one suspects it was also a nod to the magnitude of Monday’s visit of Sunderland when Dembele and Taylor are likely starters.
2) Posh will need to be better on Monday. They started each half okay yesterday and Clarke-Harris missed a sitter in the fifth minute which could well have led to an easier afternoon. But Fleetwood missed a great chance to score through Wes Burns on the stroke of half-time and struck the bar when a fierce drive from Danny Andrew was deflected onto the crossbar by Nathan Thompson midway through the second-half. Posh were much better in the final 15 minutes after changing shape, but Fleetwood manager Simon Grayson was right to insist his side were unlucky losers.
3) Clarke-Harris is enjoying a remarkable season. He was poor, as was fellow forward Sammie Szmodics, for most of this game after failing to convert an early Joe Ward cross. He struggled to hold the ball up and lost possession too easily as a result, but what a big heart he has. He never stops working and he had the self-confidence to take charge of a free kick that Ward and Louis Reed both fancied. The fact it flew into the back of the net was no real surprise and led to some unsually exuberant celebrations. This was a big win and the players knew it. Unlike the match against a depleted Accrington side they had to work hard for this one.
4) Reed’s renaissance has been impressive. Cast aside before the season started and forgotten for much of the campaign, the midfielder keeps coming back and delivering decent displays. He was good against Portsmouth, very good against Accrington and he outperformed his midfield partner Reece Brown at Fleetwood. It was Brown who was hooked for Taylor just past the hour mark so Reed has an opportunity of starting again on Monday. There’s every chance Reed will be deemed surplus to requirements at the end of the season no matter what division Posh are in so his attitude should be admired.
5) Two clean sheets in a row thanks to some impressive commitment from a back four who were happy to place their bodies on the line and a goalkeeper who stayed alert throughout. There were a couple of free kicks conceded by skipper Mark Beevers in dangerous positions and they don’t want to be doing that on Monday with Aiden McGeady in the opposition.
6) Bad things tend to happen to Posh at Fleetwood so savour this late winner. In six previous Football League games at Highbury Posh have conceded late goals, played poorly and managed to miss three penalties. Fleetwood completed a League One double over Posh last season and the game at Highbury was played without Ivan Toney, but with Storm Dennis so, despite the home side’s struggles this season, this was always going to be a tough fixture, maybe even one of the toughest they have left.