Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson reckons his side lacked conviction and composure from the first whistle as they slipped to defeat at League One leaders Bristol City last night (February 17).
Posh went down 2-0 at Ashton Gate to goals early in both halves. The 14th loss of the League One season left Posh in 10th place, but four points adrift of the play-off places having played more games than most of their rivals.
“Two poor goals have cost us the game,” Ferguson moaned. “The first was a set-piece and the second came after a long throw. When you do that against a team as good as City you will be in for a tough night.
“It’s important when you come to a place like this that you start well. City are top of the league, they are expecting to be promoted and they expect to win every game so you have to frustrate their players and the crowd.
“We set out to frustrate them, but we just didn’t do it well enough. We lacked composure and conviction from the start, I wanted my centre-backs to keep the ball well so we could retain possession, but it just didn’t happen. We lacked a bit of belief in the early stages and that was a big disappointment.
“City are a big physical side. We knew they would be a threat from set-pieces and they scored from pretty much their first corner. They had a lot of possession, but our goalkeeper didn’t have to make a save in the first-half after the goal and towards the end of the half we started to show a bit of composure on the ball which gave us a bit of hope.
“But the second goal was a killer. I said what I wanted to say at half-time, but within two minutes we’ve conceded again and from then on it was going to be a long night for us as they play so well on the counter attack.
“We changed things around and enjoyed a bit of possession, but we couldn’t break them down. City are a Championship club with Championship players, but we could have done better against them. We huffed and puffed, but didn’t look like scoring.”
Ferguson handed a full debut to new signing David Norris in midfield. He replaced Erhun Oztumer in the starting line-up in the only change to the team that beat Rochdale on Saturday (February 14). Left wing-back Joe Newell declared himself fit despite a groin problem, but limped off after an hour.
Playmaker Marcus Maddison didn’t travel to Bristol, but is expected to be fit for another tough trip on Saturday (February 21) to second-placed MK Dons. Jon Taylor’s return to full fitness continued with a 30-minute run-out from the substitutes’ bench, but teenage midfielder Jermaine Anderson has now been ruled out for the season with a toe injury that requires an operation.
Ferguson added: “David Norris did well. He came closest to scoring with a shot that whistled past a post. David knows the game well which is why I brought him to the club. In fact I thought the midfield three did well against some very tough opponents, but we didn’t offer much in the way of an attacking threat.
“We have to be careful with Jon Taylor. He hasn’t started a game for three months and there are still 15 games left rather than five, but he obviously comes into contention for Saturday at MK Dons. He did some good things when he came on.
“Joe Newell declared himself fully fit before the game, but he wasn’t himself. I need him to be fully fit because I need his energy and pace in the system we are playing so we will assess him carefully before the weekend.
“Marcus should be fit for Saturday for another big game. The tough matches are coming thick and fast now, but I prefer these sort of matches and I look forward to them, We have a good recent record against MK Dons and hopefully that will continue this Saturday.
“Unfortunately we’ve lost Jermaine Anderson for the season now to an injury that wasn’t picked up properly earlier in the season. It’s another lengthy injury that we’ve had to contend with.”
Ferguson hopes to add a loan player, thought to be a striker, to the squad before the trip to stadium:mk.