Peterborough United manager Graham Westley protected his young side by taking part of the blame for a 3-2 League One defeat at Coventry today (October 31).
Posh led 2-0 at half-time through goals from Jermaine Anderson and Erhun Oztumer, but for the second successive season at the Ricoh Arena Coventry hit back to win with three unanswered goals after the break.
Westley felt one turning point was his substitution of Chris Forrester for Jack Collison soon after the re-start. Forrester had been sick at half-time.
“I made a change that meant we lost some of our athleticism,” Westley admitted. “And when the younger players get tired at the same time that becomes a big problem.
“I was forced to take Chris Forrester off as he had been sick at half-time and was clearly unwell, but tThe nature of the team that I constructed in the second-half hurt us. I am learning from games like this as are the players.
“I still watched a young team play some fantastic football though. We have given them the licence to attack and they are showing the quality they have.
“But when I hand a teamsheet in full of 19-23 year-olds it will be a team that makes mistakes.
“There’s no hiding from the fact that we were outstanding in the first-half and that is something very positive to take away from the game. We showed so much spirit amd so much determination to go forward, but we lost our way which will happen against the good sides who have the experience and the knowhow to deal with more situations.
“Even the referee said after the game that we will play a lot worse than that and win and he’s right.
“What we must learn though is to manage the 90 minutes better, particularly against the better teams. “We must all learn from the mistakes we make, me included, and we will then become a top side at this level.
“We’ve lost three games in my time now and all of them 3-2. At least we are losing in the right way, by playing attacking football.
“There is so much good quality in our dressing room. We just need to tighten up one or two things, obviously with regard to our defensive play.
“In the second-half people might say we didn’t hold the ball up well enough, but for me our passing in midfield and therefore the service to our strikers was the problem and that was a shame as it was so good in the first half.”
Coventry manager Tony Mowbray delivered praise to both sides. He said: “We always knew it was going to be an open game because they’re a dynamic side who have scored more goals than anyone in the league, so we knew it was a very dangerous game and it proved to be so.
“It ebbed and flowed a little bit and we should have been 1-0 up from what we had worked on, letting them have the ball at the back and then try to nick it and break but I have to say they are a very good team.
“I was a frustrated with Adam (Armstrong) in the first half because he played too high for me. We’d worked on playing him in a No 10 position, but he and (Marc-Antione) Fortune were both high and Peterborough were so good technically that they were passing through our lines and we didn’t kill the space.
“So I took a striker off and put a midfielder on and Jim O’Brien filled that space and the formation was then more pertinent to the game in front of us, and thankfully we got the job done.
“We went the extra yard and the supporters played their part. That atmosphere in the second half was amazing. It was great that Posh brought so many fans and the our supporters reacted to that and hopefully everyone has gone home happy.”
Posh dropped two places to 12th in League One. They are next in action in the first round of the FA Cup at Burton Albion next Saturday (November 7).