Peterborough United manager Steve Evans isn’t getting carried away by his team’s position at the top of the League One table.
A blistering first-half display from Posh earned them a 3-1 win over Luton Town at the ABAX Stadium today (August 18), Only Posh and Portsmouth now have 100% winning records after three matches, but Posh have the better goal difference after goals from Jason Cummings (2) and Siriki Dembele in the first 45 minutes saw off the Hatters.
Evans praised his side’s intensity in that first period, but was disappointed by their second-half display which yielded a late goal for Luton full-back Jack Stacey.
Luton manager Nathan Jones took the blame for his side’s defeat. He changed systems to include three centre-backs in an attempt to counter Posh’s style of play, but it backfired.
Luton also felt aggrieved at a couple of first-half penalty decisions, one that was given for Posh early in the game and one that was given for the visitors just before the break, but referee Graham Salisbury then changed his mind after a conversation with his assistant.
“Luton couldn’t deal with our intensity in the first-half,” Evans enthused. “They changed systems because they were worried about our front two. That’s why you put a third centre-back in there, but they didn’t allow for Joe Ward’s ability and workrate and they didn’t allow for Siriki Dembele’s quality and they both hurt Luton today.
“I was pleased we had a strong referee today. I’ve seen all the decisions back on video and ours was a definite penalty and if their’s was a penalty we maight as well all give up the game. A younger referee wouldn’t have changed his mind, but Graham sensed he’d made a mistake and came to the right decision in the end.
“We’ve had a great start, but we’ve achieved nothing yet. I want to be top of the table in May not August and there are things we can definitely improve on. The table won’t take shape until we are nine/10 games into the season.
“We need to start delivering that level of intensity for 90 minutes and not 45, but we were playing a top club with terrific players and an outstanding manager today so they were always going to come back at us.
“We were comfortable for most of the second-half until Siriki switched off at a cross, but we can do more than we showed. We wanted to win the second-half as well and we wanted to keep a clean sheet, but we will get there.
“We worked very hard for the win which is the pleasing thing. We now need to work just as hard in two very tough away games in the next week.”
Posh are at Charlton on Tuesday (August 21) and then Plymouth next Saturday (August 25). Evans intends to make changes for the trip to the Valley, but it’s unlikely winger Marcus Maddison, an unused substitute today, will start.
Striker Ivan Toney could get a first League One start for the club, while midfielders Louis Reed and Callum Cooke are also pushing for a place.
“A fully focused Marcus Maddison is a magician at this level,” Evans added. “I felt the time was right to get him back with the squad and he has been excellent in training since he returned.
“He’s been told he was heading for the Championship, which to be fair is where he should be, so he understandably became distracted.
“I might freshen things up at Charlton because we want to play with a great tempo in every game. There is a saying in football that good players can always play with good players which is why Jason Cummings and Matt Godden have hit it off so quickly together, but Ivan Toney is also a good player so I expect him to do just as well whoever he plays with.
“The lads as a whole have not been together for very long, but they have already generated a great team spirit.”