This was a match of stark contrasts.
On one side a team on the up with a popular chairman, a playing hero as manager and a happy fanbase. On the other side a club in decline with angry support and a manager way out of his comfort zone Indeed Karl Robinson has only managed Charlton in a handful of games and his job is probably under threat, such is the craziness currently enveloping a most unhappy Valley.
At least there were no fans’ protests to delay Posh’s comfortable cruise to victory. Flying pigs (plastic ones) really have been seen more often than Charlton victories this season, as part of a ham-fisted attempt to effect change in the boardroom.
Still, none of this will bother a Posh side who are no better placed than at this stage last season, and yet they are threatening a more prolonged run at promotion. This manager projects confidence. This manager has the players on board. There’s a sense of running through brick walls borne of mutual respect and it was again in evidence at the Valley, as victory was once more achieved without the services of, depending on your point of view, star man/selfish scoundral Marcus ‘Marmite’ Maddison.
“It wasn’t quite a 90-minute performance,” Posh boss Grant McCann stated. “But it was an outstanding 75-minute display. We will get better.”
Posh passed the ball well. Captain Chris Forrester controlled the match from midfield and orchestrated the fine midfield movement of Gwion Edwards and Leo Da Silva Lopes, while Paul Taylor, Shaquile Coulthirst and Tom Nichols harried defenders to distraction.
And when Posh did come under pressure during a 10-minute spell at the start of the second-half, they dug in and defended with spirit, and some good fortune as Charlton twice struck the woodwork, before McCann’s switch of Coulthirst for George Moncur helped Posh re-gain control.
Moncur can claim an assist for a quite brilliant second Posh goal from Gwion Edwards, although he might be embarrassed to do so, as a short pass to the future Welsh international led to a run from inside his own half, through the middle of the Charlton defence and a shot that was too powerful and accurate for home goalkeeper Dillon Phillips. It was a mighty effort from Edwards whose pre-match warm-up had apparently included several sprints to the toilet.
But his strike midway through the second period killed the game off completely. Ryan Tafazolli had nodded Posh in front on 21 minutes from Taylor’s precise set-piece delivery and in truth Luke McGee was largely untroubled in the Posh goal.
Only when Josh Magennis beat Michael Bostwick and sidefooted against the outside of the post, and when Jordan Botaka’s 20-yard shot cannoned off both Tafazolli and the crossbar did the home fans swap frustrated irritation for something resembling more traditional support of their team.
At the other end of the ground, over 1,000 travelling fans enjoyed themselves with creatively-versed carols in honour of their favourite players as they watched Leo Da Silva Lopes, who lost nothing in comparison with Charlton’s Premier League bound teenager Ademola Lookman, twice come close to finishing off flowing first-half moves involving Taylor, Forresterm Coulthirst and Nichols, while Moncur created havoc with some dazzling dribbles.
This was mightily impressive stuff and a performance that would have been rewarded with a move up the table if Cobblers hadn’t shown such defensive incompetence in their home game with Rochdale.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Andrew Hughes, Michael Bostwick, Ryan Tafazolli, Chris Forrester, Gwion Edwards (sub Brad Inman, 85 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes, Paul Taylor (sub Ricardo Santos, 89 mins), Shaquile Coulthirst (sub George Moncur, 64 mins), Tom Nichols.
Unused substitutes: Nathan Oduwa, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Mark Tyler, Callum Chettle.
Charlton: Dillon Phillips, Patrick Bauer, Jordan Botaka (sub Adam Chicksen, 70 mins), Morgan Fox (sub Brandon Hanlon, 82 mins), Ezri Konsa, Andrew Crofts, Fredrik Ulvestad (sub Joe Aribo, 70 mins), Jorge Teixeira, Ademola Lookman, Nicky Ajose, Josh Magennis.
Unused substitutes: Dmitar Mitov, Kevin Foley, Johnnie Jackson, Roger Johnson.
Goals: Posh - Tafazolli (21 mins), Edwards (67 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Bostwick (foul), Forrester (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Charlton - Fox (foul), Chicksen (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Referee: Charles Breakspear.
Attendance: 10,193 (1,017 Posh).