Marcus Maddison has been in and out more times than the hokey cokey world champion this summer.
He hasn’t half generated some headlines for a player who before last night (August 21) hadn’t played a minute for a Peterborough United team who have grabbed League One by the scruff of the neck. First he was going to West Brom, then he did go to Potton, his next destination was supposed to be Blackburn, but instead he remained at Whittlesey where a promising career as a tattoo artist beckoned if the football didn’t work out.
But he made a positive mark at the Valley. It was a surprise to see him sent on with 30 minutes of a tense, pulsating clash to go. Charlton were playing well enough to suggest 0-0 would have been a decent result and Maddison and Dembele on the flanks must have caused the busy Posh full-backs some extra concern.
But, if it was a gamble by Posh boss Steve Evans, it worked. After annoying the volatile home fans by clutching his head in agony and stopping a Charlton attack, and irritating the referee by booting the ball away in a blatant act of time wasting, Maddison collected a fine pass from Jason Cummings in the 89th minute and set off towards goal, pausing only to deliver a superb cross which led to Ivan Toney, another replacement, and Charlton left-back Lewis Page colliding at the far post. A penalty decided referee James Linnington much to the dismay, and that’s putting it mildly, of home boss Lee Bowyer and to the obvious delight of Evans, who naturally called it ‘a proper decision’.
“Many teams would have tried to shut the door at a big club like Charlton,” Evans stated. “But I wanted to barge through it which is why I sent Marcus and Toney on. It worked out pretty well.”
Cummings never looked like missing the spot-kick despite a worrying delay and Posh saw out a five-minute bombardment of their penalty area before celebrating a terrific win, one that kept them top of the table, but also one that announced they might take some shifting. They didn’t play anywhere near as well as on their last two visits to this ground, but my word they battled and competed in a contest that was brutal in its intensity.
But then it was always likely to be a combustible affair between teams managed by two lively old characters. Bowyer could start an argument in an empty stadium, while Evans appears to only halt his moaning at officials to moan at his players.
Both bosses were cautioned for dissent last night, but it’s Bowyer who will be getting a letter from the FA this morning after an astonishing post-match tirade that included effectively calling Linnington a ‘cheat’, a real no-no when aimed at officials.
“Is there contact?” Bowyer asked himself. “Course there is. You’ve got two players running at 100 miles an hour, one trying to defend and one trying to score. There is going to be a contact. But is it a penalty? No. Anyone who has played the game knows it’s not a penalty. It’s an absolute disgrace how he can make that decision.
“We were the better team, but we’ve been cheated. Everyone can see it. But all night long the slight 50-50s were going to them. Their manager is this big geezer standing on the side bullying the fourth official, constantly hammering the fourth official, and maybe the referee was afraid, I don’t know.”
Bowyer strode menacingly onto the pitch at the final whistle to confront Linnington, while ‘the big geezer’ thumped the air in front of the 700 or so Posh fans. He might just be winning some of his crtics over. Four straight wins will tend to do that.
Posh did take heavy pressure at the end of each half, but the back four, goalkeeper and defensive shield, Alex Woodyard, all stood tall. There has probably been a club record number of defensive blocks in August with Woodyard and Ryan Tafazolli producing the best and bravest last night, while centre-back Rhys Bennett delivered a commanding performance.
Until former Posh striker Nicky Ajose sliced a volley when unmarked 12 yards from goal in the final seconds, Posh created the clearer chances. Bennett struck the underside of the crossbar with a header from a corner and Siriki Dembele should have scored after Toney’s flick sent him through on goal, but Charlton ‘keeper Dillon Phillips made the save. Cummings glanced a header from an excellent Joe Ward cross at the start of the second half.
Charlton, an upgrade on opposition faced by Posh so far this season, enjoyed long spells of pressure, but only seriously tested Chapman once when a Lyle Taylor shot was deflected towards the goal.
Otherwise the Posh defence was so dominant they almost grabbed the headlines from their maverick matchwinner.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Colin Daniel, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara, Joe Ward (sub Marcus Maddison, 62 mins), Siriki Dembele (sub George Cooper, 83 mins), Matt Godden (sub Ivan Toney, 62 mins), Jason Cummings.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke, Josh Yorwerth.
Charlton: Dillon Phillips, Lewis Page, Krystian Bielik, Patrick Bauer, Darren Pratley, Naby Sarr, Chris Solly, Albie
Morgan (sub Nicky Ajose, 66 mins), Karlak Grant, Joe Aribo, Lyle Taylor.
Unused substitutes: Jed Steer, Anfernee Duksteel, Mark Marshall, George Lapslie, Taylor Maloney, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
Goal: Posh - Cummings (pen, 89 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Woodyard (foul), Evans (manager, dissent), Maddison (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Charlton - Morgan (foul), Pratley (foul), Bowyer (manager, dissent), Taylor (dissent), Page (foul).
Referee: James Linnington 7
Attendance: 9,762 (745 Posh).