Peterborough United manager Grant McCann is confident his side will bounce back to form when arch rivals MK Dons visit the ABAX Stadium for a League One fixture tomorrow (September 12, 7.45pm kick off).
Posh were beaten for the first time in the league on Saturday (September 9) when a dismal first-half display enabled Bradford City to cruise to a 3-1 win.
But McCann was keen to offer perspective on that result and its impact on the season as a whole. Posh dropped from first to third following their Bradford beating.
“If we’d won the last four matches rather than the first four matches, it would now be viewed as a good start to the season,” McCann said. “The start has still been good despite a poor first-half performance at the weekend.
“We’re third in the league. We’re in the area of the table we want to be in and if we win tomorrow we could even go back to the top.
“There were things happening in the first-half against Bradford that I hadn’t seen all season. We weren’t winning second balls, we weren’t competing well enough.
“But the response we got in the second half was good so I’m confident the reaction will be good again tomorrow. If we’d scored earlier against Bradford - and we had chances - we might well have got back into the game.
“We will lose matches this season, but it’s how you react that’s important. Sheffield United and Bolton lost matches last season, but reacted well and won promotion. That’s our challenge tomorrow and we couldn’t have a better fixture towards that end.
“We’ve built up a big rivalry with MK Dons and enjoyed some great nights at their expense. But they are a good side. They have pace, energy and a big, strong centre forward (Osman Sow), but we also have strengths. It should be a very good game.
“We didn’t like losing at home on Saturday especially as our fans were outstanding again so that’s another motivation for us.”
McCann is forced into the first change to his starting line up for a League One match this season as key midfielder Anthony Grant must serve a one-match ban after picking up a red card in the Bradford defeat.
But there could be other changes. McCann revealed there are a few ‘bumps and bruises’ in the squad. Top scorer Jack Marriott limped out of the Bradford game.
Chris Forrester and Jermaine Anderson are the favourites to replace Grant, although the latter is still not quite at peak match fitness. A formation change is also a possibility.
Central defender Steven Taylor will play. He has been rested from both Tuesday cup matches this season.
“We have to be flexible,” McCann added. “We can’t afford to be one-dimensional, but the system we have used has worked well for five games so there can’t be an over-reaction either.
“Anthony has been outstanding this season, although he was one of many players to be off the pace at the weekend. His absence gives others the chance to grab a shirt. This is why we built a squad in the summer.
“Jermaine did very well against Bradford. He gave us the energy we’d been missing in the first-half, but he is probably still two under 21 matches away from full match fitness.
“The boys were in good spirits this morning. We reviewed the Bradford game yesterday and drew a red line under it.
“Our focus now is on getting three points and moving back up the table.”