Peterborough United manager insists his Saturday strategy was fine

Posh player Jamie Walker is crowded out by a packed Bradford City defence. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Posh player Jamie Walker is crowded out by a packed Bradford City defence. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
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Peterborough United manager Steve Evans has defended his strategy for Saturday’s (November 17) League One home game with bottom club Bradford City.

Evans was stung by criticism from fans and in the media for starting the contest with just one striker. He made two changes at the break and one of his substitutes, forward Ivan Toney, claimed the equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

Isaac Buckley-Ricketts could play for Posh against Sunderland at the ABAX Stadium.

Isaac Buckley-Ricketts could play for Posh against Sunderland at the ABAX Stadium.

Evans conceded the result was a big disappointment, but blamed a poor crossing display from his players for the failure to beat a team who had lost their six previous League One matches. Posh achieved almost 60% possession, but barely created a scoring opportunity.

Posh dropped a place to fourth ahead of games at Coventry on Friday (November 23) and at home to AFC Wimbledon (November 27). Fringe players get the chance to impress their manager when Sunderland visit the ABAX Stadium tonight (November 19) for an Under 23 Premier League Cup match. Fans can watch this game (7pm kick off) with admission set at £3 and £1.

“Our strategy to beat Bradford was fine,” Evans stated. “We used exactly the same formation to beat Fleetwood in our last League One match at home. We played Jamie Walker behind Ivan Toney that night and he turned in a man-of-the-match performance.

“The plan was to get the ball to Jamie again and get him running at their defence. We found him in dangerous areas on many occasions, but he kept runing into trouble.

“When it became clear Bradford were going to defend deep and in numbers we tried to get the ball wide. It was the easiest way to get behind them and that part of the plan worked perfectly.

“We got our wide players, wingers and full-backs, in great positions, but they failed to deliver. We counted 48 crosses into the Bradford penalty area in 90 minutes and most of them went straight to the goalkeeper, didn’t beat the first defender or flew out of play. The one good pass Marcus Maddison delivered we scored from.

“A lot of those crosses were made under no pressure from defenders. It became a training session for their goalkeeper.

“In the second half we got an extra forward on and asked the players to deliver the ball more accurately into the box, but it still didn’t happen for us. Ivan, like Godden and Cummings, went looking for the ball rather than staying in the penalty area because they were frustrated by the lack of service.

“You get days like this. We were rightly hammered for the way we played at Wycombe the other week, but they went up to Sunderland on Saturday and picked up a draw.

“We didn’t play well at the weekend, but you can’t fault the workrate of the players. It was a lack of ability on the day that cost us, but it’s almost the end of November and we are fourth in League One and making progress in two cups. It’s a better start than most thought we would manage.

“We have a game tonight now when others will get a chance to show what they can do.”

Posh have picked a strong reserve team for this evening’s contest. There is a doubt about Isaac Buckley-Ricketts who was ill over the weekend. Teenage youth team player Harrison Burrows is on standby.

Posh: (expected starting line-up); Conor O’Malley, Darren Lyon, Colin Daniel, Sam Cartwright, Sebastien Bassong, Callum Cooke, Mark O’Hara, Siriki Dembele, George Cooper, Jason Cummings, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts/Harrison Burrows.