Craig Mackail-Smith believes Saturday’s (December 13) 2-1 win at Leyton Orient will kick-start Peterborough United’s season.
Posh secured three points for the first time in seven League One matches at Brisbane Road thanks to goals from Aaron Mclean and Erhun Oztumer - the latter scored with a sublime free-kick two minutes after the interval. They will now head into next weekend’s (December 20) clash with third-placed Preston at London Road with greater confidence.
Mackail-Smith, who is on loan at Posh from Brighton until the end of the month, praised both the skill and determination of his team-mates.
“The boys were fantastic,” Mackail-Smith enthused. “We played well at times and when we had to dig deep and defend we did that as well. We showed some great grit and determination.
“We’ve worked hard on the midfield diamond for the last fortnight and it’s a system that seems to suit the players. We were far more forward thinking in this game than we were in my last game against Bristol City when we passed sideways a lot.
“We have players who are good on the ball, but we also pressed the ball well. Orient had a fair bit of possession at times and sent in a lot of crosses towards the end, but we stood firm to gain a very important three points.
“Winning was all that mattered as we had to stop the rot, but to get three points while also playing well should give us a massive confidence boost ahead of the Preston game.
“Little moments often make a big difference to a team and we had to survive a free-kick in the last minute when the ball seemed to bobble around our penalty area for ages. In previous weeks that might have been a goal and we’d have had to settle for a draw which would have been disappointing.
“Confidence is probably all that’s been lacking at Peterborough in recent weeks. Myself and Aaron have seen some good players since we returned to the club. We are trying to help them, but they already have the ability.
“Erhun seems a natural for the number 10 role. His free-kick was just ridiculous. When we get more used to playing with him he will look even better, but he’s a serious talent.
“Harry Beautyman was also impressive on his first start. He gets up and down the field and again with more games he will become even more influential.
“It’s been great for me and Aaron to be back. I was pleased to play a part in Aaron’s goal. It was a great cross by Joe Newell and Aaron was in the right spot as usual.
“I’d love to get on the scoresheet, but at the moment it’s all about getting match fit. I’ll get better with games and I certainly finished this game better than I did my first one. The dressing room was buzzing afterwards, we are all very excited about the win and now we have to make sure we can string some good results together.
“While I’m here I will keep working hard for the team. I haven’t spoken to Brighton since they let me come to Peterborough so I will just get my head down, do as well as I can for Peterborough and then it will be up to Brighton what happens next.”
Mackail-Smith has scored 99 goals for Posh, all of them in his first four-and-a-half-year spell at London Road between 2007 and 2011. He has three games of his loan deal to claim that 100th goal.