Given recent Peterborough United experiences at the Ricoh Arena the only surprise last night (November 23) was Coventry City not going onto win the game after falling behind in the 90th minute.
They almost did. A defensive disaster which enabled Conor Chaplin to equalise while Posh were still celebrating Ivan Toney’s splendid goal was quickly followed by Tom Bayliss galloping unopposed to the edge of the Posh penalty area before, thankfully for the health of some in the visiting camp, shooting tamely. One night of football summed up in one moment as pretty Coventry build-up play was followed by some ugly finishing.
It was still a frustrating outcome for Posh, but not as bad as throwing two-goal half-time leads away two seasons in a row.
Lord only knows what Posh boss Steve Evans’ post-match press conference would have sounded like if he’d finished up as a loser. The manager is clearly not at the ABAX Stadium to make friends, an acceptable policy perhaps if success is achieved.
Some verbal missiles launched last night left a trail of destruction which included hits on the Coventry manager, some parts of the local media (your Peterborough Telegraph correspondent is so far unscathed), the referee (naturally), and another of his own players as centre-back Rhys Bennett joined Matt Godden, Jamie Walker and two goalkeepers as squad members to have been publicly attacked since positive results started to slow down.
Evans is an unrepentant sort. And why not? His players are certainly running hard for him (the potential for a public flogging is perhaps strong motivation) and, although his team could be down to fifth by this evening if the formbook is followed at Barnsley and Gillingham, they are currently third despite causing meltdown among fancy probability statisticians for winning games despite surrendering possession wilfully and scoring from a very high percentage of chances created, until last night that is.
Evans went big on the stats after the 1-1 draw, so big there were 11,000 sets of eyebrows raised when he said his side ‘should have been 3-0 up at half-time, and 5-0 up some time in the second-half.’ It’s true Toney missed a sitter with his head after the best Posh move of the night finished with him on the receiving end of Tyler Denton’s perfect cross 20 minutes from time and top scorer Matt Godden was twice denied by home ‘keeper Lee Burge in the first-half, but suggesting Posh ‘delivered a good hiding’ was not quite a universal reaction from those present.
Coventry often looked the slicker side with fine passing and movement from a skilful midfield. Their problem was the lack of a final ball or a finisher which allowed Posh to point to the clearer chances as a reason why they deserved the three points. In truth a draw was probably fair, although Coventry ended up the happier purely because they finally found a way through a sturdy back four when all had seemed lost. They might even have scored first if Luke Thomas hadn’t marred a lung-busting 70-yard run past two Posh players with a woefully weak finish at the start of the second-half.
Evans, who was seranaded by some of the travelling support before the game, is clearly irritated by the negativity surrounding his appointment which still exists even though he’s taken a completely new group of players (minus the best two performers from last season) into a place among the League One pacesetters from the very start of the season. It’s noticable on Twitter certain fans can’t wait for the opportunity to poke the bear, while ignoring the positives, but those people are a waste of energy that needs to be directed at the reasons behind a sad failure to close a game out and of finding a midfield combination/formation that can dominate possession. There won’t be many teams like Bradford City who run away behind the ball when faced with this Posh side.
It wasn’t all about Evans last night, although he managed to get cautioned by referee Anthony Backhouse, a man who helped breathe life into the second half by not blowing for a foul every time two men collided as he had for the first 45 minutes.
Toney’s muscular aggression was impressive as was the way Posh defended their penalty area. Late substitute Jason Cummings’ part in the Posh goal was an excellent piece of determination and skill.
You never know, matters on the field might one day become the major talking points after a game.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Tyler Denton, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara, Joe Ward, Marcus Maddison (sub Siriki Dembele, 71 mins), Ivan Toney, Matt Godden (sub Jason Cummings, 81 mins).
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Sebastien Bassong, Jamie Walker, George Cooper, Louis Reed.
Coventry: Lee Burge, Jack Grimmer, Junior Brown, Dom Hyam, Jordan Willis, Michael Doyle, Tom Bayliss, Luke Thomas, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Jordy Hiwula (sub Jodi Jones, 73 mins, sub Amadou Bakayoko, 80 mins), Conor Chaplin.
Unused substitutes: Corey Addai, Brandon Mason, Tom Davies, Liam Kelly, Abu Ogogo.
Goals: Posh - Toney (90 mins).
Coventry - Chaplin (90 + 1 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Tafazolli (foul), Woodyard (foul), Evans (dissent).
Coventry - Chaplin (dissent).
Referee: Anthony Backhouse 6
Attendance: 11,719 (1,315 Posh).