Peterborough United manager Steve Evans refused to defend a poor performance from his team after they drew 1-1 with Walsall in a League One fixture at the ABAX Stadium today (December 22).
Posh needed some late heroics from goalkeeper Conor O’Mally to collect a point. He saved an 87th-minute penalty and made a stunning double-save in injury time to deny Walsall the victory they deserved.
Ivan Toney had equalised a first-half Walsall goal 60 seconds after the re-start, but Posh failed to capitalise on that boost and were hanging on for a point towards the end against mid-table opposition.
Posh have now drawn five of their last six League One matches to fall six points behind the automatic promotion places. Posh dropped a place to fifth ahead of a tough game at sixth-placed Barnsley on Boxing Day thanks to Charlton’s win over Gillingham.
Evans expects centre-back Ryan Tafazolli to return for the Barnsley game. He missed today’s match because of a groin problem forcing right-back Jason Naismith to play in the heart of the back four.
“I can’t stand in front of the press and defend a poor performance like that,” Evans stated. “We were nowhere near it first-half and made a couple of bad errors to fall behind. We were lacklustre all over the pitch. I was frustrated and annoyed that one of my teams could play like that,
“We asked for a reaction in the second-half and got it straight away when Marcus Maddison landed a corner right on the money, but we didn’t kick on. There was a bit of end to end play, but we never got control of midfield which has been a problem in the last few weeks.
“We also never got the workrate we needed from the wide players. We play in a very expansive way, but if the players don’t work hard enough we won’t get anywhere.
“The game looked like drifting to a draw, but then our left-back went walkabout and we conceded a penalty. Conor O’Malley made a great save from the penalty and he made another one later on which I suppose won him the man-of-the-match, but you need to play for 90 minutes to get that in my opinion and he made an error for the their goal by leaving his line when there was no need for it. We gave tham a gift from an aimless ball which was very disappointing.
“Centre-backs Jason Naismith and Rhys Bennett were the best players for me. They both made some great blocks, but there wasn’t a lot of quality in the game as a whole.
“In 90 minutes today we showed nothing of what we are about.
“But I will pick a team for Barnsley that will work harder than the one I picked today. We have three games to get through to the end of the holiday period and we need to pick up enough points to keep us in the top group of teams.
“These players have had enough chances to show what they can do. It’s now obvious what I have to do.”
Evans felt Walsall striker Andy Cook should have been sent off in the first-half after flattening Posh defender Bennett with an arm in the face.
Evans revealed experienced centre-back Sebastien Bassong wasn’t ’ready to play’ despite training for the last two days.
Evans said he sent rookie striker Matty Stevens on as a substitute rather than Scottish international Jason Cummings as ‘there wasn’t the space available that Jason needs to show his best’.