SWANNY'S MATCH VERDICT: Coventry 1, Peterborough United 0; Posh players to go from the beach to the transfer list
Oh to be a fly on the wall at the ABAX Stadium today (April 9) when the big three Peterborough United cheeses formulate plans for the 2017-18 League One season.
If the Posh players realised their immediate futures would be discussed less than 24 hours after tackling the worst team in League One, their performance suggested they either want out of the club, or they have water-tight contracts which even save them from the wrath of an angry chairman.
Darragh MacAnthony was back in the UK to watch a pitiful display against Coventry at the Ricoh Arena. His jetlag didn’t stop him delivering a couple of irritated tweets which basically suggested players currently on the beach will soon be on the transfer list.
A similar question re holidays from the media post-match drew a disgruntled reply from manager Grant McCann who clearly thought a lack of effort had little to do with a punishingly poor display which ended in a deserved defeat.
McCann might just be protecting his players in public. Whether or not he says the same to MacAnthony and director of football Barry Fry in private today is another matter. Based, not solely, on the evidence of yesterday, Posh have some serious re-building work to do and they won’t raise a whole load of cash by holding a summer firesale of current squad members. One suspects talent is the real issue at the club rather than effort levels.
It’s a test for a rookie manager and for a chairman whose true worth is not completely appreciated by all those who pay to watch the sort of rubbish served up at the Ricoh.
“We controlled large parts of the game,” Coventry boss Mark Robins said. “They had a couple of chances, but they didn’t really hurt us.”
There was little arguing with that, even from McCann, who admitted disappointment and frustration at failing to deliver a top six finish in his first season as a manager. The boss cares about the club and he needs to find more footballers with similar passion in the summer. A couple with his playing ability would also be handy.
Coventry would have been relegated with a defeat here. There was enough evidence before Craig Mackail-Smith drove a penalty straight at home keeper Lee Burge 10 minutes before the break that confirmation of League Two football would be delayed by at least a week.
Coventry’s players put a shift in, backed by fans who managed quite brilliantly the not inconsiderable task of supporting the men on the pitch while condemning those who seem determined to run a proud club down the divisions. They’ve had plenty of pratice I guess.
Stuart Beavon struck a post with a terrific overhead kick in the first-half and Posh survived a couple of scrambles from corners before Ruben Lameiras fired Coventry ahead seven minutes into the second-half.
Posh did go onto strike a post through a Junior Morias thunderbolt and Martin Samuelsen, who had won the penalty with a mazy dribble into the penalty area, headed Michael Smith’s precise right wing cross past a post when well placed. Morias hit the target with his late headed chance following a cross by substitute Paul Taylor, but Burge saved comfortably.
However those moments shouldn’t suggest Posh rallied impressively and were unlucky to grab a point. They didn’t and they weren’t. With the exception of stand-in skipper Smith and a pair of battling centre-backs, they showed very little urgency.
McCann finally lost patience with skipper Chris Forrester and top scorer Tom Nichols, and consigned them to the bench for the start, but he retained the midfield diamond formation despite recent evidence to suggest 4-4-2 with Marcus Maddison on the wing might be the way forward.
To be fair Maddison was poor in whichever position he showed up. Maybe players rather than formations are the real problem at Posh? They don’t even have a reliable penalty taker which until a rule is introduced to let managers have a go from the spot, might be the case for some time to come.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith, Andrew Hughes, Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Jerome Binnom-Williams (sub Paul Taylor, 72 mins), Anthony Grant (sub Chris Forrester, 65 mins), Martin Samuelsen, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Marcus Maddison, Craig Mackail-Smith (sub Tom Nichols, 65 mins), Junior Morias.
Unused substitutes: Ryan Tafazolli, Brad Inman, Andrew Hughes, Mark Tyler.
Coventry: Lee Burge Kevin Foley, Nathan Clarke, Jordan Turnbull, Ryan Haynes, George Thomas, Gael Bigirimana, Ben Stevenson (sub Callum Reilly, 70 mins), Kyel Reid (sub Jodi Jones, 46 mins), Ruben Lameiras, Stuart Beavon.
Unused substitutes: Reice Charles-Cook, Chris Stokes, Dion Kelly-Evans, Marcus Tudgay, Michael Folivi.
Goal: Coventry - Lameiras (52 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Baldwin (foul).
Coventry - Thomas (dissent).
Referee: Gavin Ward 7
Attendance: 10,551 (849 Posh).