League 1 report: As he often did when he worked at London Road, Gary Johnson summed up this dire contest pretty succinctly.
“You’re not going to see Barcelona-style football on that sort of surface,” Johnson started, before hastily adding. “Not that either team could play like Barcelona anyway.”
Johnson’s Yeovil are bottom of League One again and it was pretty easy to see why. There was far less evidence though to back up the fact that Posh are two points from a play-off place. Darren Ferguson’s men deserved to win this contest in conditions more suitable for mud wrestling than professional football, but it was a grinding, gritty display rather than a thing of beauty, notwithstanding the name of the match-winner.
The joy for Posh fans will come from the removal of some embarrassing statistics. This was a first win at home in League One since October 18, it was the first time they’d secured back-to-back League successes since the same date and it was the first goal they’d scored since London Road had been re-branded the ABAX Stadium - a total of approximately 388 playing minutes between Joe Newell’s goal against Swindon on November 22 and Harry Beautyman’s 28th minute goal today.
The players, and the manager, deserve credit for the character they’ve shown in the last couple of matches just to arrest a shocking slump. Perhaps entertainment will return now that some confidence has been restored. The League One table at least now demands that Posh must look up rather than look down, but to have any chance of a top six spot they will have to improve rather dramatically - they won’t reach the play-offs on spirit alone.
They were worthy winners here once a sluggish start had seen them survive a fourth-minute chance for visiting forward Jamar Loza who shot straight at Scott Loach before Nana Ofori-Twumasi fired the rebound over the bar. Posh dominated the rest of the first-half and, even in a second-half that saw Yeovil have a real go, they did enough on the break to suggest they were just as likely to score the second goal of the game.
Ferguson named an unchanged matchday 18 for the first time this season and the three central defenders were solid enough against this level of opposition, while Joe Newell at left wing-back and Marcus Maddison in his best position just behind two strikers delivered what craft there was on show.
Maddison’s cross should have been converted by Kyle Vassell before the pair had a hand in Beautyman’s first goal for the club. Maddison fired Vassell’s cut-back at goal and the ball ended up in the net off Beautyman’s thigh. The midfielder deserved his moment in the sun as he went on to give his second man-of-the-match display in a row.
It was a game for a shire horse rather than a speedster though. Passing was near-impossible for players of this standard and those who could slog their through cloying mud fared best. Only when the ball was played out wide to Newell did Posh threaten excitement and a second goal, but Vassell missed a sitter from the wing-back’s cross just moments before he was hauled off.
Yeovil played much better after the break after introducing lively substitute Alex Leitch-Smith. He saw a dangerous cross intercepted close to the goal-line by Shaun Brisley and an acrobatic overhead kick blocked by Michael Bostwick. Numerous corners came to nothing as Posh did a decent job of keeping Loach out of the game.
How much further Posh can progress this season is guesswork, particularly until the transfer window closes on Monday (February 2) night. Maybe if the club sold enough of the £4.50 pies they introduced today they will be able to afford a creative midfielder.
Posh: Scott Loach, Michael Bostwick, Shaun Brisley, Christian Burgess, Michael Smith, Joe Newell, Jermaine Anderson, Harry Beautyman, Marcus Maddison (sub Kgosi Ntlhe, 84 mins), Conor Washington (sub Aaron Mclean, 78 mins), Kyle Vassell (sub Luke James, 68 mins). Unused substitutes: Dion-Henry Curtis, Erhun Oztumer, Jack Payne, Harry Anderson.
Yeovil: Jed Steer, Liam Shephard, Stephen Arthurworrey, Kieffer Moore (sub Nathan Ralph, 83 mins), Nathan Smith, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Joe Edwards, Sam Foley, Alex Smith (sub Sam Hoskins, 77 mins), Gozie Ugwu, Jamar Loza (sub Alex Leitch-Smith, 46 mins). Unused substitutes: Artur Krysiak, James Hayter, Fergus Bell, James Berrett.
Goal: Posh - Beautyman (28 mins).
Referee: Mick Russell 7
Attendance: 5,146 (239 Yeovil).