Two consecutive 2-2 draws saw Posh slip from the summit of League One over the past week; Yesterday, Posh faced their second consecutive relegated side as Barnsley came to London Road. Ecky Thump and Ee By Gum, James Bloodworth followed t’action.
On a soggy afternoon in PE2, Steve Evans made 3 changes to his starting lineup; Jamie Walker, Joe Ward and Marcus Maddison all came into the team as a tactical shift saw us try a third formation of the week: a 4-2-3-1. It was almost like we were trying to be too clever… Anyhow, there was little time for this tinkered side to get used to each other, as today’s visitors were dominant from kick off. Jamie Walker felt like he was fouled before George Moncur tested Aaron Chapman, Brad Potts strode through our defence and saw his shot saved, and excellent link up play could have been rounded off, had Ben Williams brought his shooting boots. The standout Tyke from the first half was Dimitri Cavare; the right back was MASSIVE, and advanced down the Posh left hand side at will, leaving Colin Daniel and Joe Ward for dead. It wasn’t like he was hard to spot, was he lads? It was at this point I told by dad: “We’re going to get totally bummed”. How I wish I was wrong…
In spite of the early domination, it was Posh who had a golden opportunity to take the lead. After a desperate punt to relieve pressure, Mark O’Hara flicked the ball towards Ivan Toney; the former Newcastle man nipped ahead of Ethan Pinnock and touched the ball past Welsh international goalkeeper Adam Davies. Toney was quite clearly taken out on a sodden London Road pitch, yet incredibly referee Darren Drysdale waved away the protests. Steve Evans and Paul Raynor were too busy exploding with anger to notice that Joe Ward had retrieved the loose ball; before he could unleash a shot however, he was ‘tripped’ by Cavare. Drysdale did, however, point to the spot in the most dramatic manner for the innocuous second challenge; officiating karma, if you will. Ivan Toney stepped up to take the penalty with the chance to score his first home Posh goal, but his low effort was far too close to the goalkeeper, who palmed the spot kick away. Barnsley’s eccentric German manager Daniel Stendel couldn’t contain his joy, which led to his Peterborough United counterpart to complain about this emotional outburst. And he had every right to; Evans is renowned for his calm and collected touchline persona.
The ball didn’t actually leave the field of play then until Aaron Chapman had to pick the ball out of his net. An excellent breakaway with some gorgeous passing culminated in an Alex Mowatt cross; Alex Woodyard let the ball hit his leg, and lax defending from his teammates allowed George Moncur to ghost into the area and smash his side into the lead. God-botherer Moncur’s first reaction was to sprint towards the main stand and goad the Posh supporters, who in 2016 were his own. It was a tad confusing that he felt this was a reasonable reaction; from memory, Moncur was well like and there were often calls for Grant McCann to start the midfielder. Perhaps there’s a bible verse that reads “thou shalt be a massive knob-head”? 1-0 Barnsley.
Kieffer Moore, some random bloke we tried to sign in January, was frustratingly good. Despite being 6’6 and built like a shithouse, his incredible mobility caused countless problems for the Posh defence, and he had a handful of chances to double the lead. We were shit. Like, really, really shit. The primary Peterborough United tactic was to whack the ball forwards at every given opportunity. The only ground passes that actually had some thought behind them were those back towards goalkeeper Aaron Chapman… Who of course whacked the ball forwards at every given opportunity. Invariably, the ball was won by the imperious Barnsley backline, and the onslaught continued.
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve not said anything about Jamie Walker kicking the ball. I’ve done this because, quite simply, he didn’t. Evans’ tactical shift had not only backfired, but the entire engine had fallen out and someone had let his tyres down. Thankfully, this catacticsphre was rectified on 25 minutes, when Matt Godden was introduced to the pitch along with the traditional 4-4-2. The added presence alongside Ivan Toney was welcome, as the hopeless, easily intercepted long balls forwards needed an additional target not to hit. Make no mistake, there were chances for the home side to get back into the contest: Godden and Toney both had free headers from set pieces, yet they both trickled harmlessly out of play. We were rubbish. Properly rubbish.
Keith Moon, or whatever his name is, finally stopped being the thorn in Posh’s side when the former Ipswich man was forced off after being clattered by Chapman as Barnsley once again looked to take themselves out of sight. Jacob Brown came on for the bollocksed Moore, and that should have made life a bit easier. It didn’t. The whole team got the fundamental aspects of defending wrong, as the ball was consistently allowed to bounce before a clearance or attempt to control was made; Ryan Tafazolli and Rhys Bennett consistently challenged for the same ball, Colin Daniel offered about as much defence at left back as an asthmatic toddler with a bad knee, and Aaron Chapman inexplicably rushed to retrieve a loose ball, decided against it, rushed back to his goal and allowed the cross to come in unopposed. The Posh coaching staff grew ever more frustrated.
Tuesday night hero Marcus Maddison was out of sorts today (as anyone who follows his social media channels will know, he’s been whinging on all week about having a cold, the poor little soul). He was seldom involved, and his first meaningful contribution was to concede a completely unnecessary free kick on the right hand corner of his own penalty area. What followed was, quite frankly, nothing short of sublime. The set piece was rolled into the path of Brad Potts, whose strike was so sweet that Gregg Wallace off Masterchef would turn it down. The ball flew past Chapman, and it was the second goal that the hosts richly deserved. Half time came, and we desperately needed the respite.
Presumably we needed the interval to introduce all the players to each other. And presumably, it didn’t work. Both teams continued as they were in the opening half: Barnsley’s play was fluid, whilst the only fluid on display from Posh was a piss poor performance (Credit for that line: My Dad, Paul Bloodworth). Cavare should have made it 3-0 within minutes of kick off, but he fired a fine pass by Moncur over the bar. Curiously, despite the 20 minute break moments beforehand, Steve Evans decided the 49th minute would be a sensible time to have a Graham Westley-esque meddle, and introduced a 5-3-2, with Joe Ward joined at wingback by substitute Darren Lyon. The
latter was making his Posh debut, with the majority of his supporters not having a clue who he was. The young Scot replaced Colin Daniel, and he surely must have been an upgrade on the hapless Daniel.
Quite simply, he wasn’t. Lyon’s first involvement saw him dally in possession, lose the ball and watch as Brad Potts put away his second goal and Barnsley’s third inside an hour. I would quite happily have left the ground at this stage, but given I’d promised to write this report I felt like I probably ought to stay and watch the mutilation continue. It soon went from bad to worse for the home side, as a late lunge by Tavare forced Marcus Maddison from the pitch. Louis Reed ambled on to replace the stricken Geordie, as a miserable afternoon continued. Lyon continued to be painfully bad at right wingback, as he displayed all the hallmarks of the newest inductee of the illustrious “One Game for Posh” club (President: Ashley Vickers, Secretary: James Ghaichem). Adam Davies was in danger of becoming a spectator, and unless he had completed the simple catch from a Mark O’Hara, he may have had to have paid the entrance fee. Barnsley fans were rightly confident that victory was in the bag, as the “OLÉ’s” and taunts aimed at “FAT SCOTTISH BASTARD” Steve Evans were rolled out. Posh nearly got an undeserved consolation through Matthew Godden’s header, but that was well blocked on the line. It just wasn’t our day.
The Barnsley procession continued. Central midfielder Kenny Dougall-a man with a name so quintessentially Scottish yet suitably anonymous he sounds like we should have signed him this summer-totally dictated play, finding pockets of space in our stretched defence. I’m under no illusions; had Barnsley wanted to, they could have scored 7 or 8. The visitors looked to run the clock down by introducing a man whose surname is that of the most popular cat food in Yorkshire: Mamadou Thiam. The Senegalese winger had barely got into position when George Moncur picked up the ball on the edge of the Posh penalty area, danced past our hapless defence and picked out Jacob Brown in injury time, who made it 4-0. And with that, I did something which I hate doing and treat as a last resort: I left the ground early. Paul Raynor might have wrestled the assistant referee whilst topless at full time; Steve Evans could have headbutted Daniel Stendel, or a Peterborough United player could have trapped the football and then played a pass; any of these incredible things may have occurred, but alas, I would have been on Town Bridge when they did.
We were comprehensively outclassed. Barnsley put in the best visiting display at London Road this calendar year- I include Premier League side Leicester City in that- and I highly doubt anyone will take that crown from them. That being said, it doesn’t excuse the complete abomination of a performance from Posh. Our industrial style of play just couldn’t cut it against their slick, free flowing football. Whilst they had a fluent attacking system that saw players swap positions at will, the eleven useless tossers in blue were struggling to master their own. Steve Evans’ tactics were wrong, and the individual displays were not much better. Joe Ward was awarded the sponsors’ man of the match, and whilst he didn’t do a whole lot wrong, there wasn’t a whole lot right about his game either. We were outplayed, out tactic-ed, outthought and outfought. It was an unforgivable display in our heaviest home defeat since January 2017.
So, if you couldn’t quite gather, James wasn’t best pleased with that display. The weather was shit, the footballer was shitter. Posh have picked up 2 points from a possible 12 at home; you don’t need anyone to tell you that that is pretty crap. We still sit very nicely in the league table, but the cracks are starting to appear. Have your say on Saturday’s action, the season in general or any other topic on the biggest Posh forum on the World Wide Web.