Mark Tyler must be some goalkeeping coach.
The Peterborough United legend has only been back at his favourite club for a few weeks and Ben Alnwick has suddenly turned into Peter Shilton, minus the dodgy perm.
All the positive, front-foot, entertaining football Posh delivered in the second-half would have been rendered irrelevant if Alnwick hadn’t been so athletic and decisive before the break. The end of goal droughts for Lee Angol (his first goal since November 24) and Harry Beautyman (his first since February 14, 2015) would have been mere footnotes at the end of an enthralling contest if it wasn’t for Ben’s brilliance.
These two teams are a footballing equivalent of Ali and Frazier, They bring the best out of each other and results are unpredictable until the final bell/whistle as they try and slug each other into submission. Coventry will probably have sulked and snarled all the way home after missing out on a return to the play-off zone despite playing football that dazzled and delighted, particularly in the opening 30 minutes.
A failure to find a finish to match their speed of thought and movement, their impressive tempo, and the quality of their passing cost them that opportunity. When they did find a way past Alnwick, Andrew Fox appeared from nowhere to clear Marc-Antione Fortune’s shot off the goal-line.
Posh fielded their only four available defenders against a Coventry team playing without their top scorer (Adam Armstrong) and their most creative midfielder (James Maddison) thanks to the unfathomable decision to hold international friendlies on Easter weekend.
The long absentee list bothered Posh the most in the opening half as Alnwick tipped Joe Cole’s shot over the bar, kicked Jacob Murphy’s fierce drive onto a post, grabbed another Murphy effort when the striker looked set to score and turned Fortune’s near post effort behind for a corner in an opening 20 minutes when Posh defended with all the organisation of the Keystone Kops, while treating marking and tracking runners as undesirable chores.
Add in Fox’s save, a free header from a corner missed by Andy Rose and a fine block by Jack Baldwin to deny Cole and you have a sense of how good Coventry were and how desperate Posh had quickly become.
But, in typical football fashion, failing to turn dominance into goals came back to haunt the visitors and it was Posh who reached half-time in front when Michael Bostwick neatly headed Maddison’s deep corner back across goal and into the corner of the net in the 45th minute.
To be fair Posh had improved in the final stages of the half, Moving Ricardo Santos to right-back and Baldwin to centre-back helped as did the arrival of a second striker in Shaquile Coulthurst (he replaced injury victim Erhun Oztumer) to support the willing Aaron Williams.
Maddison started to become an influence and several corners in quick succession eventually led to a goal, although the Sky match commentator summed Bostwick’s goal up nicely. “Some-one call the police, there’s been a robbery at London Road,” he quipped.
Bostwick’s goal however was a game-changer. Posh sensibly decided that attack was the best form of defence. They defended high up the pitch, denied Cole & co the space in which to play, and burst forward in numbers. something much easier to achieve after Angol was also sent on from the bench.
Angol scored on the hour mark, within five minutes of his arrival, with a stumbling sidefoot into the corner after an excellent set-up by Maddison, a player now with an impressive 11 goals and 13 assists to his name this season.
Coventry’s response was to immediately strike a post again through Murphy before scoring a sensational goal on the counter-attack following a Posh corner. Murphy showed Usain Bolt-like speed to out-pace a determined 70-yard chase by Angol before squaring for Cole to finish with precision. At the age of 34, Cole’s ability to surge forward in the 65th minute was impressive, but then the former England international was pretty dynamic all night.
Within minutes Coventry substitute Darius Henderson fell over when clean through and what a vital moment that turned out to be as 20 minutes from time Coulthirst’s shot was blocked by a defender, but the ball fell nicely for Beautyman who calmly side-footed the ball home.
That third goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors who clearly realised it wasn’t to be their night, although there was still time for Alnwick to confirm his man-of-the-match display with a couple of neat, late saves from Fortune and Sam Ricketts.
It’s now back-to-back wins for Posh to follow a traumatic run of one point in seven League One matches. This was a first League One win at home of 2016 and a club record sixth home league defeat in a row was averted.
If only Posh had managed to prise Tyler away from Luton in January....
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Jack Baldwin, Andrew Fox, Michael Bostwick, Ricardo Santos: Chris Forrester, Harry Beautyman (sub Simon Gillett, 77 mins), Erhun Oztumer (sub Shaquile Coulthirst, 46 mins), Jon Taylor (sub Lee Angol, 56 mins), Marcus Maddison, Aaron Williams. Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Adil Nabi, Callum Chettle, Tom Nichols.
Coventry: Reice Charles-Cooke, Sam Ricketts, Martin Lorentzson, Aaron Martin, Romain Vincelot, John Fleck, Jacob Murphy, Gael Bigirimana, Andy Rose (sub Jodi Jones, 46 mins), Marc-Antione Fortune (sub Tudgay, 75 mins), Joe Cole. Unused substitutes: Corey Addai, Stephen Hunt, Aaron Phillips, Ruben Lameiras.
Goals: Posh - Bostwick (44 mins), Angol (61 mins), Beautyman (69 mins).,
Coventry - Cole (65 mins)
Cautions: Posh - Fox (foul), Coulthirst (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Coventry - Ricketts (foul).
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 7
Attendance: 6.021 (886 Coventry)
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