Peterborough United are rapidly approaching the point of no return.
That’s manager Grant McCann’s opinion. Some fans have already filed this season away under ‘mid-table obscurity, forgettable’, a bit like the last one.
McCann is right though, He’s labelled forthcoming home games against AFC Wimbledon and Walsall as ones that will ‘make or break’ the Posh season, and therefore quite possibly determine the length of his own stay at the ABAX Stadium.
McCann will be warmed by the personal support chairman Darragh MacAnthony offered after yesterday’s (February 18) draw. He should also be cheered by the chant of ‘Grant McCann’s blue and white army’ from some of the 300 visiting fans which briefly penetrated a weird atmosphere at Bloomfield Road (there’s a ‘sustained ethical boycott’ going on aimed at hurting the owners of Blackpool FC), but he will be under no illusions about the need for an immediate return to the form of August or Aston Villa away. Turning draws into wins (Posh and fourth-placed Rotherham have lost the same number of matches, but the Millers are six ahead in the win column), hanging on to leads (four times in the last three games Posh went in front without winning) and playing better at home (the remaining away fixtures look particularly tough) would be a good start.
It’s becoming a Posh tradition after matches this season to trade statistics. It’s becoming like Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons as ooponents find the numbers that back up their own position.
MacAnthony pointed out last night that Posh have lost just two of their last 11 League One matches. The counter argument was just one three-point success in 2018, a worrying return when two wins in four days are required just to keep in touch with sixth place, surely the only spot now available for McCann’s men as the gap to fifth is 10 points with just 12 matches remaining.
Posh were far from bad at Blackpool, although the home side’s failure to win a League game here since October 17 defies McCann’s assertion this could turn out to be a valuable point.
The commitment on a treacherous playing surface was good. Posh stayed proactive after taking a 21st minute lead through Jack Marriott’s close range header, but a constantly bobbling ball made final passes, crosses and shots a lottery thus ensuring both goalkeepers had largely untroubled afternoons.
If ever a pitch was an excuse for a long ball game this was it, although Posh, in the first-half mainly, had some joy by passing short and crisply with Michael Doughty finding enough space to unleash a couple of early shots at goal.
Posh were dominant before the break, but, not for the first time this season, they were undone by a lapse in concentration both by players and match officials in added time.
Jimmy Ryan’s long crossfield pass out of defence was quite brilliant and the run and cross by Viv Solomon-Otabor threatened danger, but Nathan Delfouneso couldn’t have made it much more obvious he’d bundled the ball over the line with an arm, a fact missed by all apart from angry goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. As referee Eddie Ilderton had spent the half failing to punish properly the Blackpool hacks at Marcus Maddison’s legs and awarding Posh phantoms corners, it was no surprise he allowed the goal.
Blackpool were better after the break and missed a glorious chance to win the game when Armand Gnanduillet headed wide after beating Bond to a cross, while Maddison failed to hit the target from Posh’s best opportunity following a neat Chris Forrester pass. Posh huffed and puffed around the Blackpool box, but a clever free kick routine which was well defended and Marriott’s failure to control a fine Doughty pass ensured an eighth away draw of the season was recorded.
Posh reverted to a flat back four for this game and, led by outstanding skipper Jack Baldwin, defended well. Maddison and Joe Ward were employed as wide men in support of sole striker Marriott. The wingers played well, but substitute Omar Bogle’s strong 15-minute cameo suggested an earlier appearance might have reaped the reward of a second goal. At least he got on, the club’s second top scorer Danny Lloyd sat watching throughout as his side strived in vain for a vital victory.
‘Away points are usually good,’ McCann stated after the game, which is true as long as home games are won.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard, Andrew Hughes, Jack Baldwin, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant. Michael Doughty (sub Leo Da Silve Lopes, 83 mins), Chris Forrester (sub Omar Bogle, 78 mins), Marcus Maddison, Joe Ward (sub George Cooper, 90 mins), Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Danny Lloyd, Junior Morias, Conor O’Malley, Steven Taylor.
Blackpool: Blackpool: Joe Lumley, Kelvin Mellor, Curtis Tilt, Oliver Turton, Clark Robertson, Jimmy Ryan, Sean Longstaff (sub Sessi D’Almeida, 90 mins), Colin Daniel, Viv Solomon-Otabor (sub Danny Philliskirk, 87 mins), Nathan Delfouneso, Armand Gnanduillet.
Unused substitutes: Christoffer Mafoumbi, Andy Taylor, Will Aimson, Dan Agyei, Jay Spearing.
Goals: Posh - Marriott (21 mins).
Blackpool - Delfouneso (45 + 2 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Marriott (dissent).
Blackpool - Mellor (foul).
Referee: Eddie Ilderton 5
Attendance: 3,286 (301 Posh).