Peterborough United’s still jovial director of football Barry Fry summed it up best: ‘I’ve never felt so happy with a a home point,’ he beamed as he left the Weston Homes Stadium before revealing he’s keeping busy outside of transfer windows fighting off interest in the club’s star players.
We can safely assume he means the Posh front three. Record signing Mo Eisa showed exactly why strikers command the big bucks in the 95th-minute of an absorbing contest against a gifted Coventry City side yesterday (October 26) by passing the ball calmly into the net following substitute Siriki Dembele’s thrilling dash into the penalty area and accurate cross.
Many would have lashed at such an opportunity so late in the game with little chance of beating the mass of defenders in front of them. Not Eisa, a player who comes alive in the penalty area, as he showed wonderful composure to grab a point Posh were lucky to collect and grateful to receive, as Fry and manager Darren Ferguson confirmed after the game.
“We were lucky to be only a goal down at the break,” Ferguson admitted before throwing a rare barb at his players. “It doesn’t matter how talented you are, you have to win the fight first. I was pleased we were still in the game at half-time and grateful that last opportunity fell to Mo.”
It was, according to one of the many stats-obsessed characters around matches these days, just Eisa’s 17th touch of the ball in the game, but he made the last one count to the obvious frustration of the Coventry camp who have yet to witness an away win in League One this season, a remarkable statistic on the evidence of yesterday when Posh continued their recent habit of starting slower than a rusty car in winter,
As Posh spluttered into action, Coventry were quick off the grid, breaching the home defence in the first minute only for ‘keeper Christy Pym to thwart Callum O’Hare. Pym was again faced with an onrushing striker 12 minutes later, but this time he was beaten by Amadou Bakayoko.
Bakayoko then saw a ‘goal’ disallowed for handball which looked far less obvious on TV than it appeared live and Coventry’s dominance of the ball forced Ferguson to make a 25th minute change of personnel and formation, introducing Dembele as one of two adventurous wing-backs alongside Marcus Maddison.
Posh were at their best in the opening part of the second-half. Maddison equalised from the penalty spot after Ivan Toney had been brought down and Toney might have nodded Posh in front soon afterwards, but his header at goal hit Eisa instead of the back of the net.
Coventry regrouped and took what should have been a winning lead five minutes from time with a fantastic volley from Max Biamou, but the visitors then sat too deep for the remainder of the game, a dangerous tactic against a team with deadly penalty area predators.
A good point in the circumstances then, but also plenty to contemplate for Ferguson and his staff when faced with the better teams in the division. Posh are third without beating anyone alongside them in the top seven and the way powerful forwards Biamou and Bakayoko unsettled home centre-backs Mark Beevers and Frankie Kent is a concern ahead of a meeting with Blackpool giant Armand Gnanduillet next weekend (November 2). Beevers looks far happier playing in the middle of a back three where his lack of natural speed is far less likely to be exposed.
It would also have been noted that, for all of Coventry’s fine approach play, both of their goals arrived after Posh carelessly lost possession in their own half, first through Louis Reed and then Joe Ward. Maddison mentioned a need to play the ball longer to beat the most effective high presses in his own post-match media interview.
Ferguson may also be pondering how to get Dembele a starting place. Pace, more than anything else, terrifies defenders. That and an ability to finish with great composure under extreme pressure like Eisa.
Posh: Christy Pym, Niall Mason (sub Dan Butler, 65 mins), Frazer Blake-Tracy (sub, Siriki Dembele, 25 mins), Frankie Kent, Mark Beevers, Louis Reed (sub Joe Ward, 79 mins), Frankie Kent, Mark Beevers, Marcus Maddison, Ivan Toney, Mo Eisa.
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Nathan Thompson, Serhat Tasdemir, Idris Kanu.
Coventry: Marko Marosi, Michael Rose, Kyle McFadzean, Dom Hyam, Callum O’Hare, Fankaty Dabo (sub Tennal Watson, 61 mins), Zain Westbrooke, Sam McCallum, Amadou Bakayoko (sub Jordan Shipley, 77 mins), Max Biamou.
Unused subs Ben Wilson, Brandon Mason, Liam Walsh, Gervane Kastaneer, Josh Eccles.
Goals: Posh - Maddison (pen, 52 mins), Eisa (90 + 5 mins).
Coventry - Bakayoko (12 mins), Biamou (85 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Mason (foul), Blake-Tracy (foul), Knight (foul).
Coventry - McCallum (foul), Dabo (foul), MacFadzean (foul), Rose (foul)
Referee: Alan Young 8
Attendance: 8,005 (1,584,Coventry).