So, a new era begins at London Road, a club virtually unrecognisable from the one that bored some fans to tears a fortnight earlier. Posh’s new co-owners followed the action from Canada as Marmite manager Steve Evans took the reins for the first time. I would describe his lineup in terms of the changes made from Posh’s last outing, although it feels like it’s been so long that Steve Morrow and Darren Caskey were probably starting, so I’ll outline the talking points: 4-4-2, with a (on paper, very flimsy) midfield of Leo Da Da Silva Lopes and Chris Forrester, while Omar Bogle was favoured over Junior Morias up front, in what some considered a must win match against Charlton.
In the opening 20 minutes, virtually nothing happened. Charlton probably had the edge, with speedy wingers Tarique Fosu and Sullay Kaikai exploiting the Posh fullbacks, as the home midfield was set up surprisingly narrow. Statistically, a new manager bounce has a massive effect on a defence and a negligible one on the attacking play, and there was no exception to the rule here; Steven Taylor and Jack Baldwin looked strong, while the direct method of play going forward just wasn’t working. In lieu of action on the pitch, the eye was drawn to the touchline, where potentially the most unpopular of foursome of all time of Evans, Paul Raynor, Karl Robinson and Lee Bowyer (of punching his own team mate fame) made up the respective coaching teams. It’s worth noting Evans appeared to have put on two halves of different suits this morning. A blue and Grey combo is a look reserved for middled aged coach drivers, not football managers Evvo.
Anyhow, back to the match. Omar Bogle’s performance was the obvious talking point from the opening 45. Despite hitting the post and using his strength well, the positive points were tempered by some wayward shooting and his refusal to chase after a through ball after assuming (wrongly) he was offside. However, it was probably the best performance the Cardiff loanee has put in so far in a Posh shirt. After Bogle, the next biggest talking point was the performance of referee Brett Huxtable. An erratic performance where plenty of physical challenges weren’t punished (and vice versa) incensed Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor, who has the look of a lesbian headmistress of an all-girls school about him.
Posh did marginally improve as the first half drew to a close. A Chris Forrester shot bounced around the Charlton defence, but fortunately for The Addicks, ended up in the arms of Ben Amos. As injury time loomed, Maddison-who was earlier denied a free kick when running at full speed-was brought down and a dubious foul was awarded by Huxtable. Despite Posh’s number 11 putting in a poor delivery, Joe Ward fed off the scraps. The former Woking man displayed neat footwork and then an excellent cross to the far post, for Andrew Hughes to fire in his third goal of the season. 1-0 Posh. We were perhaps lucky to end with 11 men on the pitch, as Jack Baldwin sliced Kaikai in half during injury time.
Despite a marked improvement by the home side in the second half, Charlton also perked up. A flurry of corners weren’t dealt with effectively by Posh, as Karl Robinson’s men turned the screw. As Posh finally looked to clear the danger, Liam Shephard inexplicably shoved a Charlton attacker inside the area. Peculiarly, the clear penalty was not awarded for a considerable period, and when the referee finally pointed to the spot, Evans was on the verge of spontaneous combustion in the face of fourth official Ian Dudley. Thankfully, the talisman of Northern Ireland’s heroic Euro 2016 run Josh Magennis put the spot kick so wide that it practically went out for a throw in. Despite Huxtable’s decision having no consequences, Evans and Raynor were still furious with the officials, prompting a final warning for Evans. 3 minutes later, fury turned to delight for Posh’s new manager. The impressive Joe Ward ran 50 yards, and played an intelligent ball to Maddison, who went down softly just inside the area. Penalty Posh. Marcus Maddison takes. 2-0.
Charlton really should have got themselves back into the contest. On top of the missed penalty, Ben Reeves’ deflected shot drifted wide of the post, and Tarique Fosu hilariously put a header wide from 5 yards out, to the frustration of whinging twat Karl Robinson. Finally, the visitors did half the deficit: Michael Zyro glanced a powerful cross into the far corner and Posh’s old frailties were coming to the fore again. Evans’ 20 years in management countered this however, as he withdrew Omar Bogle to add an extra midfielder in the form of Michael Doughty, and more legs with Danny Lloyd. This allowed the impressive Lopes to be pushed forward into a more advanced position, where he caused even more problems for Charlton.
Posh appeared to be content with the 1 goal cushion as they began to sit deep. Danny Lloyd had other ideas, as he (somehow) kept the ball in play and crossed to Jack Marriott, who capitalised on a tardy Valiants’ defence and fired a low shot past Amos. Jermaine Anderson was introduced late on in place of Lopes, with the former Arsenal man displaying some neat touches and athletic runs to increase his contribution to this campaign by infinite amounts.
Jack Baldwin was lucky to escape a second yellow late on after a late lunge 20 yards from goal, and despite Charlton pressure, Posh held firm. As Posh broke for the umpteenth time, Marcus Maddison was clattered on the touchline by Naby Sarr. Evans was furious, and as he was too focused on abusing the linesman, referee and Sarr, he ignored the advantage being played. Jermaine Anderson stretched his legs and whipped in a delicious cross that was met with a stooping header by Jack Marriott. 27 goals for Marriott this season. 4-1 to Posh. Sarr was booked for his cynical foul on Maddison, which coupled with the excellent advantage Huxtable played and Posh’s scoreline, Evans was bizarrely not happy and on the verge of cardiac arrest.
The closing moments were punctuated with a few dark arts Evans has had the sense to introduce. Maddison ‘failed’ to pick up a bouncing ball that had gone out of play, every player who was substituted found themselves 70 yards from the dug-out, and Liam Shephard’s ‘poor throw’ that never entered the field of play ate away a precious few seconds. The referee’s whistle brought proceedings to a close, meaning Evans started on a high, and Karl Robinson’s torrid personal record at London Road read: Played 7, lost 6 (he did win the other match, but it was in the LDV Checkatrade Paint pot so it doesn’t count). The scoreline flattered Posh- a 3-2 victory would have been more accurate perhaps-but it doesn’t really matter. An important 3 points, essentially a +6 change in goal difference and the avoidance of their manager exploding meant it was a good afternoon for Posh.
This is going to be one rollercoaster of an era.