There are statistics doing the rounds which suggest Peterborough United are the biggest over-achievers in League One this season.
Or the luckiest depending on how you decipher the data that covers the quality of chances created and conceded and the amount of time spent in possession of the ball.
Basically, according to those who prefer to over anaylse than judge with their own eyes, Posh have been doing a lot with very little, although why knocking the ball square and backwards in five yard areas is seen as such a positive is rather baffling.
Just who is providing the information for the number crunchers is also unclear, but they would have been wearing a smug grin after Saturday’s (November 3) 1-0 defeat at Wycombe. If Posh can’t boss the ball against teams full of spirit, but lacking in obvious quality, like Gareth Ainsworth’s side they really are going to have problems when the battle for promotion hots up over the coming months.
Posh still created the best two chances of the game as Rhys Bennett and Matt Godden were both denied from close range by home ‘keeper Ryan Allsop, but the level of constant pressure you might realistically expect from the second-best team in the division (the only stat that really matters) at the start of the day, and which probably would have unhinged two veteran centre-backs more regularly, just didn’t arrive.
Posh manager Steve Evans has built a team that likes to battle and is capable of hurting teams with swift counter-attacks, but, to nick a rugby union term, they can’t put phases of possession together. They don’t pass the ball well enough to unsettle teams who sit deep which help to explain explains why their home form is so average.
Ainsworth was generous enough in victory to insist Posh were certainties to finish in the top six. He also suggested Posh preparations were probably undermined by the unexpected absence of Wycombe’s ‘beast’ of a centre-forward Adebayo Akinfenwa. Without his brute strength Wycombe were forced to play a different way which involved defending with discipline and keeping the ball in the hope of nicking a goal, although a wicked deflection off the Posh defensive wall from a 20-yard free kick from Bryn Morris midway through the second half probably wasn’t how they envisaged claiming a fourth home League One win on on the spin.
Evans was less generous on the final whistle. He’s a manager who shoots from the lip while emotions are running high and no-one is safe. Godden was in his firing line this weekend for failing with his one-on-one with Allsop after some excellent approach play from strike partner Ivan Toney 10 minutes before the only goal of the game.
“If Matt scores that we win,” Evans said not unreasonably given what had gone before in this game and in the season as a whole. Wycombe certainly hadn’t looked like scoring despite plenty of possession and an abundance of set pieces.
If ever a game looked destined to finish 0-0 it was this one even though Allsop had to stay alert to beat out a late strike from substitute Marcus Maddison.
Evans could just have easily picked on winger Siriki Dembele (he did without naming him) for constantly over-playing on the ball and getting tackled or left-back Tyler Denton whose performance couldn’t have been a greater contrast to his debut display. Few in a white shirt left Adams Park with much credit.
It says a lot for the overall performance that the biggest cheer from over 800 travelling fans greeted Wycombe substitute Craig Mackail-Smith’s warm-up jog down the touchline. The second biggest arrived when he entered the fray for a final eight minutes that was worryingly comfortable for the home side.
Such a fabulous away run was bound to hit a bump sooner or later which didn’t dilute the disappointment or the frustration, but the form at the ABAX Stadium is a far bigger concern.
The next two visitors are Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon, the current bottom two. Even the statisticians might expect Posh to win those two matches.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Tyler Denton (sub Jamie Walker, 79 mins), Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Louis Reed, Siriki Dembele (sub Marcus Maddison, 74 mins), Joe Ward, Ivan Toney, Matt Godden (sub Jason Cummings, 63 mins).
Unused substitutes: Mark O’Hara, Mark Tyler, George Cooper, Sebastien Bassong.
Wycombe: Ryan Allsop, Jason McCarthy, Joe Jacobsen, Adam El Abd, Darius Charles, Bryn Morris, Dominic Gape, Paris Cowan-Hall (sub Curtis Thompson, 87 mins), Fred Onyedimna, Alex Samuel (sub Craig Mackail-Smith, 82 mins), Randell Williams.
Unused substitutes: Yves Ma-Kalambay, Sido Jombati, Marcus Bean, Scott Kashket, Nick Freeman.
Goals: Wycombe - Morris (67 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Tafazolli (foul), Toney (foul).
Wycombe - Gape (foul), El Abd (foul).
Referee: Ben Toner 7
Attendance: 5,225 (854 Posh).