Peterborough United are in the second round of the FA Cup, striker Lee Angol is back, Shaquile Coulthirst received another confidence-boost and non-league Chesham United enjoyed a great day out.
There are always positives to any game if you look hard enough and beforehand Posh would have accepted a quiet afternoon while avoiding the Saturday night/Sunday morning headlines involving ‘giant-killings’ and ‘non-league heroes’.
Indeed Posh manager Grant McCann, mindful of his team being on a hiding to nothing against a side 94 places below them in the football pyramid, insisted winning was everything in his post-match press conference. Job done then, although it’s doubtful he went home thrilled with anything other than the result.
Over analysing a game against a team reliant on long throws into the penalty area to create pressure is probably pointless. In short Posh were dreadful, complacent and apathetic for 40 minutes and yet could have won by a hatful such was their dominance of the second half.
Instead horrible misses from Marcus Maddison and Michael Smith and great saves from Chesham number one Ashlee Jones to deny Maddison, substitute Gwion Edwards and hat-trick seeking Coulthirst, meant that Michael Bostwick’s ‘no-look’ backpass which led to a goal for visiting substitute Ryan Blake ensured the final 10 minutes became far more fraught than necessary.
Even then Chesham’s hopes of a second goal were reliant on a mistake or another set-piece, and thankfully winning headers in their own penalty area was one skill Posh retained all game, apart from the 85th minute corner Chesham full-back Benji Crilley nodded an over the crossbar. After that the game was up for a part-time outfit who deserved the generous applause they received from the three sides of the ABAX Stadium actually in use.
They would also have left the ground frustrated they hadn’t taken advantage of Posh’s horrible start which included a shot at goal after 25 seconds after recalled centre-back Ricardo Santos made a hash of a high ball in a swirling wind.
Congratulations for Posh were far more muted. They’ve laboured since beating Northampton convincingly and yet won two of their three games since. The fluency of their passing, certainly in a forward direction, has disappeared as has the team’s attacking urgency, although both re-appeared after Edwards had replaced the worryingly lacklustre teenager Leo Da Silva on the hour mark.
By then Posh were leading thanks to a fine hit from distance from Coulthirst five minutes before the interval, a lead that should have been extended by Maddison and Smith after fine passes from Tom Nichols after the break. Edwards also saw his shot brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar just after Coulthirst had claimed a second goal by turning in Smith’s excellent cross 20 minutes from time. Jones was quickly off his line to prevent Coulthirst claiming the match-ball, saves that looked even more important when Blake pounced on Bostwick’s late error.
The fact that a defensive midfielder, Bostwick, won the sponsors’ man-of-the-match prize, was proof, not of any pressure the visitors exerted, but of how poor Posh were in the attacking third. Maddison’s sole positive contribution was a wicked free kick in the second-half that drew another fine save from Jones.
The midfield diamond was again employed at the start, but there were so many positional changes it was hard at times to work out who was playing where. Not a bad tactic if the opposition becomes as confused as parts of the fan base were when right-back Smith kept popping up in midfield and attack.
As soon as Posh found their second goal, Angol appeared for the first time this season, a far more important fact than his failure to get involved too often.
He might be the one person happy there’s an otherwise pointless Checkatrade Trophy tie at Barnet on Tuesday (November 8). Posh will need a physical presence in the opposition penalty area during a tough-looking November League One programme,
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Andrew Hughes, Ricardo Santos, Ryan Tafazolli, Michael Bostwick, Chris Forrester, Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Gwion Edwards, 61 mins), Marcus Maddison (sub Paul Taylor, 77 mins), Tom Nichols (sub Lee Angol, 73 mins), Shaquile Coulthirst. Unused substitutes: Callum Chettle, Mark Tyler, Adil Nabi, Jerome Binnom-Williams.
Chesham: Ashlee Jones, Benji Crilley, Bruce Wilson (sub Toby Little, 79 mins), Mat Mitchel-King, Darren Purse, Adam Martin, Dave Pearce, Sam Youngs (sub Barry Hayles, 79 mins), Brad Wadkins, Drew Roberts (sub Ryan Blake, 68 mins), Matt Taylor. Unused substitutes: Matt Nolan, Stephen Hamilton-Forbes, Taylor McKenzie, Kemani Murray.
Goals: Posh - Coulthirst (40 mins & 70 mins).
Chesham - Blake (81 mins).
Referee: Darren Handley 6
Attendance: 4,328 (661 Chesham).