Posh review 2014, part 3: Looking for the ‘Wow’ factor

Peterborough United's Marcus Maddison scores direct from a free-kick. Photo: Joe Dent/www.theposh.com
Peterborough United's Marcus Maddison scores direct from a free-kick. Photo: Joe Dent/www.theposh.com
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Alan Swann’s Peterborough United review of 2014, part 3: September to December -

September: The Posh hold on the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy lasted just over 150 days as Leyton Orient won a first round tie 3-2 at London Road.

The tie became the first of three times Posh would lose live on television before the end of 2014.

Posh started the month in style as Maddison delivered the first sign of his brilliance in a 3-1 win over Port Vale and finished it with a scrappy 1-0 home win over Fleetwood in a game so boring one suspected Aidy Boothroyd had coached both teams in the build-up.

But in between Posh managed to hand Yeovil their first home win since March to the delight of Glovers’ boss Gary Johnson, the man discarded to make way for the return of Ferguson.

Posh also lost at Gillingham after late August signing Christian Burgess gave away a late penalty.

Burgess was reportedly the brainiest man to sign for Posh as he was short-listed for a national award for a dissertation on a World War One subject. Mind you David Farrell was once considered the cleverest man at London Road just for completing the Sun crossword.

Posh finished the month in second place, but worryingly League One teams appeared to have come up with a simple tactic to stop Maddison strutting his stuff. They kept fouling him.

Barnett left for Oxford on a 93-day loan. He would be working for Michael Appleton, a manager who keeps finding new ways to devalue his own worth.

October: Posh moved from the sublime to the ridiculous in October. They were excellent in winning 4-1 at Crawley and pretty decent when seeing off Barnsley 2-1 at London Road when Maddison’s ability to bend it like Beckham at a set-piece was again to the fore.

But, like a circus clownmobile, the wheels fell off spectacularly to the amusement of pretty much no-one. Posh managed to lose 1-0 at bottom-of-the-table Crewe thanks in part to a terrible display of refereeing from Homer, sorry Jeremy, Simpson whose decision to send off Michael Bostwick was so poor even Arsene Wenger spotted it.

Posh then threw away a 2-0 half-time lead at a dismal Coventry outfit inside 15 second-half minutes to lose 3-2. Posh finished the month in fifth place and, as they had already seen 14 first-team squad members miss matches because of injury, it surely wasn’t that bad an effort.

November: Posh started the month losing at home to Scunthorpe at London Road with James and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing up front and finished it losing 3-0 at home to League One leaders Bristol City at the ABAX Stadium with ‘the Mac Attack’ up front.

Posh also lost at home to Swindon to make it five League One defeats in a row. They finished the month in seventh place, one spot outside the play-offs.

Scunny won 2-1 at London Road (as it still was then) on November 1 to ruin Posh’s 2,500th Football League match. That result meant Posh had now lost a competitive match this season to every team currently in League One’s bottom six.

You had to feel sorry for locally-based company ABAX as the day they announced they had secured naming rights for the London Road was also the day that Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Mclean were re-united at London Road.

The stadium re-branding was strangely greeted with disdain by some who felt that Posh had sold their soul.

The return of ‘The Mac Attack’ was also dismissed by some as a publicity stunt. If that’s what it was it was a very successful one even if results on the field continued to be poor. Harry Beautyman, a midfielder, was also recruited from Welling United to the delight of PT headline writers.

Centre-back Burgess was the Posh hero of the month for scoring twice against Carlisle in the first round of the FA Cup, the second ensured fans and, more importantly the press, were saved from a cold Tuesday night in Cumbria.

December: A year saved by a Wembley victory and a trophy in the boardroom cabinet finished appropriately enough with a goalless draw against Doncaster at the ABAX Stadium.

Posh haven’t scored a home goal since changing the stadium name, but the fact that a 0-0 draw against a team sitting below them in the League One table was greeted with relative good cheer showed how far expectations had dropped.

Posh snapped a run of no wins in seven matches by sneaking a 2-1 win at Orient, a victory secured by Oztumer’s superb free-kick. It didn’t lead to anything good though. Posh didn’t win again and finished the year in 10th place, but remarkably just two points from a play-off spot.

Posh were also dumped out of the FA Cup at Colchester and Ferguson admitted he was fighting to save a job he ‘loved’.

The fans turned on him during a dismal Boxing Day defeat at Chesterfield, but chairman MacAnthony stood strong in support of his man.

See more:

- Part 1, January to April: Red faces and red cards to start the new year before Wembley triumph

- Part 2, May - August: Play-off defeat was ‘O’ so poor; Assombalonga goes for £5.5m