POSH REPORT: Blackpool 2, Peterborough United 0: Posh have an awful day by the seaside

Mark Cullen of Blackpool (left) scores the rebound after his initial penalty was saved by Ben Alnwick of Peterborough United. Picture: Joe Dent
Mark Cullen of Blackpool (left) scores the rebound after his initial penalty was saved by Ben Alnwick of Peterborough United. Picture: Joe Dent
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There are lies, damned lies and football statistics.

Peterborough United enjoyed a healthy 56% possession at Bloomfield Road and ‘beat’ Blackpool 18-6 on attempts on goal and 12-5 on corners.

Conor Washington of Peterborough United is stopped by Clark Robertson of Blackpool. Picture: Joe Dent

Conor Washington of Peterborough United is stopped by Clark Robertson of Blackpool. Picture: Joe Dent

And yet the home were worthy 2-0 winners. Blackpool achieved far more with far less.

Posh kept the ball by passing it sidewards and backwards and lost it as soon as they went forward, Virtually all of their pot shots were taken with optimistic ambitition from outside the penalty area and their set-pieces were often overly-elaborate and only once caused any concern to a rugged, resilient and well-drilled home defence.

Not once did Posh show the necessary imagination or speed of thought in open play to unlock a Blackpool rear-guard that often contained eight or more players. The home side hunted successfully and impressively as a pack according to Posh manager Graham Westley who managed to stay calmer in front of the matchday media than he presumably did in the dressing room after watching his side fail to score in a League One match for the first time since the opening day of the season.

Blackpool are not a side who will ever be easy on the eye. They are distinctly average in possession, but they have worked out a method of getting the best from limited resources. This was a third straight win - including an outstanding success at Wigan in their previous outing - all completed without conceding a goal. For a team in such confident form winning a penalty after 25 seconds was the most precious of Christmas gifts.

Ricardo Santos of Peterborough United is blocked by Clark Robertson of Blackpool. Picture: Joe Dent

Ricardo Santos of Peterborough United is blocked by Clark Robertson of Blackpool. Picture: Joe Dent

If Blackpool have become Scrooge-like at the back in December, Posh started the final match before the big day in a benevolent mood befitting the season. Within the first minute home striker Elliott Lee was located beyond the visiting defence and, although Ricardo Santos caught him up, it was only to trip him up, and the award of a spot-kick was a formality, while the failure to show any sort of card to Santos was a surprise as well as a dereliction of duty by referee Rob Lewis.

Posh ‘keeper Ben Alnwick did make a terrific save to push Mark Cullen’s penalty onto a post, but the ball rebounded straight back to the striker who promptly tapped into an empty net. It turned out to be a match-defining moment, one that arrived in the second minute, as the home side rarely looked like relinquishing a precious advantage in the remaining hour and a half.

It meant that Blackpool could sit deep with plenaty of defensive cover. They were happy to let Posh pass the ball without pace or forward momentum (a skill that was made far tougher by torrential rain and an uneven playing surface) in the knowledge that even scant possession would probably lead to further chances against a defence that was struggling even before left-back Callum Elder limped off after 15 minutes with a foot injury.

Elder has also become a key attacking player in a Posh midfield diamond system, one that included on-loan West Ham midfielder Martin Samuelsen from the start for the first time, so his absence was a big blow all-round, although substitute Andrew Fox did his best to make good use of the space in wide areas.

Westley admitted his side lacked the tempo, intelligence and wit to break open a Pool defence that completely smothered the threat of in-form Posh top scorer Conor Washington. Jon Taylor saw one 25-yard strike well-tipped over the bar by home ‘keeper Dean Lyness as Posh pressed hard to get back into the game, but the home side always looked likely to create the more obvious openings.

One-time Posh player David Norris side-footed over the bar following a fine run and cross from Blackpool right back Hayden White before goal number two arrived after one simple pass enabled Cullen to bear down on goal. Santos managed to make a tackle, but saw the ball fall kindly to Brad Potts who went round Alnwick before shooting into an empty net just after the half hour mark.

Pool could have had further goals before the break as one awful pass from Bostwick and a horribly slow reaction from Santos was pounced upon by Cullen who shot straight at Alnwick rather than make the most of a four-on-two situation. Alnwick was also quickly off his line to deny Lee as Posh struggled to stay in touch.

The Posh response was a Lee Angol shot on the turn that drifted wide, to the annoyance of Erhun Oztumer who was better placed to take the shot, and a fizzing Michael Smith strike that slipped through the hands of Lyness, but drifted wide of the goal.

That was the last action of the first-half and Posh, despite near total domination of the ball for the vast majority of the second-half rarely came that close to scoring again. Marcus Maddison was introduced for Angol at half-time as Posh tried to get width into their attacking play, but for once there was little fluency to the passing and all attempts to break into the home penalty area were rebuffed by strong, well-organised opponents.

That meant Lyness was troubled only by late long-range shots from Taylor, Maddison and Oztumer. A decent corner from Oztumer was flicked on by Chris Forrester at the near post, but the reaction of his team-mates was non-existent.

There is a school of thought that this pretty Posh team will struggle when conditions are tough and heavy. They will if they defend as dozily as this - Santos had a particularly rough 90 minutes - while failing to find a single incisive foward pass in 90 minutes.

But Posh will spend Christmas Day in a creditable sixth place in the table gaving suffered just one defeat in their last six League One matches. Few would have seen that coming after the first six matches.

Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Smith, Callum Elder (sub Andrew Fox, 16 mins), Michael Bostwick, Ricardo Santos, Chris Forrester, Martin Samuelsen (sub Souleymane Coulibaly, 67 mins), Erhun Oztumer, Jon Taylor, Conor Washington, Lee Angol (sub Marcus Maddison, 46 mins). Unused substitutes: Dion-Curtis Henry, Jack Baldwin, Miles Addison, Harry Beautyman.

Blackpool: Dean Lyness, Hayden White, Tom Aldred, Clark Robertson, David Ferguson, Will Aimson, David Norris, Brad Potts, Jim McAlister, Elliot Lee (sub Martin Paterson. 61 mins, sub Emmerson Boyce, 90 mins), Mark Cullen (sub Andy Little, 61 mins). Unused substitutes: Kyle Letheren, John Herron, Jarrett Rivers, Bright Osayi-Samuel.

Goals: Blackpool - Cullen (2 mins), Potts (32 mins).

Cautions: Posh - Alnwick (delaying the re-start), Forrester (foul), Santos (foul),

Blackpool - Aimson (foul), Norris (foul).

Referee: Rob Lewis 6

Attendance: 6,204 (awaiting Posh figure).