A managerial honeymoon is over and so are the play-off hopes of Peterborough United unless they improve markedly on the form of their last two League One matches.
Dave Robertson deserves great credit for transforming a team whose confidence and morale had started dragging on the floor, and to be fair the combined might of Mourinho and Ferguson (Sir Alex obviously) might struggle to take a team with no natural goalscorer to promotion, even from a pretty mediocre League One.
But Robertson is bound to be judged harshly (by his chairman as well as the know-alls on social media) if his team repeat the sheer awfulness of their last two performances. They were unlucky to lose to an equally dismal Coventry side in their previous outing, but they were comprehensively outplayed and outfought by a Scunthorpe team who hadn’t won any of their previous nine matches.
The strugglers had also kept just two clean sheets in League One all season and that is the statistic that damns Posh the most from this Good Friday clash. Scunthorpe goalkeeper Luke Daniels made just two tricky saves in 100 minutes of play and they were both tip-overs after skipper-for-the-day Michael Bostwick let fly from 25 yards.
Posh have now failed to score in 13 League One matches which is an astonishing fall from grace from a team that scored a ton, literally, of goals at this level just four seasons ago.
One fears for this Posh team once they fall behind. The rigid 4-4-2 system which features hoofed clearance and long balls galore just doesn’t suit the strikers at Robertson’s disposal and it’s no longer the case of a manager working with signings made by others. He has introduced striker Luke Williams to the squad and he’s a player that looks totally unsuited to the current preferred style of play.
Williams looks like he wants to come deep for balls that can usually be seen flying over his head. Robertson’s other loan signings sat on the bench, unused until Gaby Zakuani’s head bang enabled Alan Sheehan to play the final 20 minutes or so.
By then Posh were 2-0 down and dropping into the realms of mid-table obscurity. Paddy Madden opened the scoring four minutes before the break pouncing on a loose ball after Zakuani’s terrific block had thwarted Gary McSheffery and the latter’s left-wing cross enabled Theo Robinson to score with a neat deflection in the 72nd minute. It was a scoreline that flattered Posh more than their hosts.
Robinson has scored two in two games since joining Scunthorpe on loan from Doncaster. Posh striker Luke James, an unused substitute here, has scored two goals in seven months.
All the other scoring opportunities fell to Scunthorpe, most of them in a final flurry when mediocre Dutchman Kevin van Veen and Paddy Madden (twice) could easily have added a third goal. Madden’s final effort was well saved by Posh ‘keeper Ben Alnwick as was a first-half drive from Robinson.
In Robertson’s defence his pre-match planning was disrupted by the withdrawal of skipper Jack Payne 70 minutes before kick off because of sickness and the absence of first-choice right-winger Jon Taylor. Even second-choice winger Marcus Maddison was missing because of illness which gave 18 year-old Harry Anderson the chance to transfer his reserve team form to the senior side.
Anderson played okay before the break, but struggled like the rest of the team in the second-half. It’s far easier to nurture young talent in sides playing well, but Anderson will get other opportunities, quite soon as Posh could well have little to play for if they don’t beat Walsall at the ABAx Stadium on Monday.
Robertson claimed afterwards that the game was lost in midfield which was harsh on Bostwick who again played better than most and even harsher on Harry Beautyman who has been an innocent bystander under the new manager and would not have expected to play.
Posh weren’t exactly great at both ends of the pitch either. Bostwick’s 70th-minute strike at goal was the first shot Posh managed in the second-half. Most set-pieces McSheffery sent into the Posh area caused problems.
Robertson has a lot of thinking to do. And not a lot of time in which to do it. He described the game against Walsall as a ‘massive match for me as well as the team.’
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Smith, Kgosi Ntlhe, Gaby Zakuani (sub Alan Sheehan, 79 mins), Ricardo Santos, Harry Beautyman (sub David Norris, 61 mins), Michael Bostwick, Harry Anderson, Joe Newell, Luke Williams, Conor Washington (sub Aaron Mclean, 61 mins). Unused substitutes: Dion-Henry Curtis, Luke James, James Pearson, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling
Scunthorpe: Luke Daniels, Niall Canavan (sub Andrew Boyce, 58 mins), Marcus Williams, Alex Davey, Jordan Clarke, John Lundstrom, Isaiah Osbourne, Gary McSheffrey (sub David Syers, 85 mins). Theo Robinson (sub Kyle Wootton, 90 + 4 mins), Kevin van Veen, Paddy Madden. Unused substitutes: Joe Anyon, George Evans, Hakeeb Adelakun, Conor Townsend.
Goals: Scunthorpe - Madden (41 mins), Robinson (73 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Newell (foul)., Smith (foul).
Scunthorpe - McSheffrey (deliberate handball).
Referee: Carl Berry 6.
Attendance: 4,216 (1,003 Posh).