Saturday 14 October, Gillingham arrived in town on the back of a terrible run and were promptly gifted three points by a Posh side looking to push on. Gillingham then go on a great run with an outside chance of the playoffs. Fast forward almost five months, and Posh, also on a poor recent run needed similar charity to kick start any hope of a late run into the top six. They didn’t get it, consequently handing the hosts an undeserved point.
Posh have now only one in eight and only the most optimistic supporter can think that we will be in the shake up come May. However, unlike recent games, Grant McCann’s men were the better side and dominated much of the second half without really creating many clear cut chances.
Posh sprung a surprise, making four changes. Marcus Maddison missed the trip with injury, while Andrew Hughes, Chris Forrester and George Cooper dropped to the bench. In a change to last week’s formation, Posh reverted to the 3-4-1-2 which served them so well at the start of the season with Joe Ward, Michael Doughty and Danny Lloyd slotting in.
Unlike last week where Posh never really got started, Jack Marriott made sure that we imposed ourselves early on the game with a low shot straight at Gillingham’s 9 ft 8 keeper, who also reacted well to the impressive Michael Doughty’s stinging follow up.
Posh and Gills traded blows in the early stages and Anthony Grant picked up his customary yellow card for a poor challenge on Gillingham’s Simon Parker – a man who scored more points on an episode of Come Dine with Me than he has career goals. The bookies suspended betting on Posh finishing the game with 11 as the fouls rained in from the aforementioned Grant.
On 22 minutes and for the third time in three games, Posh had a goal chalked off for offside after the lively Lloyd nipped in to slot past the keeper. They even had the opportunity to go in ahead at the break but Marriott squandered yet another presentable one-on-one opportunity. Jonathan Bond spent the majority of the first half standing in the cold and wet like the several hundred Posh fans behind the goal.
Starting the second half in a similar vein to the first, Posh were on the front foot and Omar Bogle and Marriott put efforts wide and high respectively as they pushed to open the scoring.
However it was the removal of Bogle and the introduction of Junior Morias (in his proper fucking position as opposed to the bizarre midfield role he has oft been asked to play recently) that breathed life into the visitors. Just after the hour, and 60 seconds after his introduction, Liam Shepherd whipped in a decent cross from the right that was swept in on the volley by Lloyd. It was no more than Posh deserved and they were looking at their first win for almost a month.
Gillingham huffed and puffed but rarely threatened Bond’s goal until Parker headed straight at the keeper when he really should have scored. The hosts appealed in vein as they felt the resulting rebound had crossed the line.
With 15 minutes left McCann made changes in order to see the game out. Hughes replaced Ward and two minutes from the end of the 90, Forrester came on for Lloyd. By this point, the rain was sheeting down and Posh faced a deluge of their own, as Gillingham piled forward. The returning Jack Baldwin who had so far avoided his usual calamity, held the Gills’ Tom Eaves after he had failed to shepherd the ball out, but the ref waved away the loud appeals. It looked as though we had got away with it. Not so.
Five minutes injury time were signalled and we were five minutes from a morale-boosting win after another disappointing January. Predictably though, Posh threw away maximum points again by two examples of piss poor game management. On a rapid break, Marriott, who hadn’t looked like scoring but had contributed well all afternoon, ran towards the Gillingham box with Morias open alongside him. With the 500-odd Posh urging him to “fucking pass” Marriott selfishly dragged his shot hopelessly wide. From the resulting goal kick, the Gills keeper Thomas Holy punted it long. Eventually the ball fell to the impressive and ever reliable Steven Taylor who only had to put his foot through the ball to win the game. Inexplicably, he tried to cushion it to one of his fellow defenders, and centre-back Max Ehmer, turned makeshift forward thundered home through Bond.
For the second time in a matter of months Posh handed Gillingham another result and possibly ended all hopes of their own playoff charge.
McCann afterwards claimed a good performance and while it’s hard to argue too much, Posh have now dropped nine points in the last 10 minutes of games. The good thing is we’re told he and the players are learning, but we’ve seen little evidence of that and we are consistently making the same mistakes. Gillingham 1-1 Posh.