At 2:59 on 1st December 2018, I was terrified. I was convinced I was dead, and had entered some perverse purgatory which consisted purely of watching Peterborough United play Bradford City in the freezing cold until THE END OF TIME. Alas, by a footballing quirk, I was indeed alive, and Posh were legitimately playing Bradford for the second time in a fortnight, this time in The FA Cup. Surely, SURELY, it couldn’t be as bad as the 1-1 draw in the league
Posh were unchanged having recorded only their fourth home league victory on Tuesday night, and you couldn’t blame them. Two weeks ago, Bradford started like the team pushing for promotion against relegation threatened Posh but there was to be no such confusion today; The Bantams were scrappy and struggled to deal with Posh’s fluid attacking moves. Paul Caddis was forced into a cynical foul on Siriki Dembele within the first 5 minutes as the home team put some good moves together. Because I’m a lazy journalist (citation needed), I tried to recycle the hastily made notes on Bradford from two weeks ago, but the TOTAL SHITS went and scuppered that by naming Karl Henry in their starting lineup. A quick google suggests the former Wolves and QPR card magnet signed for the Yorkshire outfit last week, and he made sure everyone knew he was playing by completely shithousing his way into Marcus Maddison. Henry was yellow carded and Bradford looked to be treading a disciplinary tight-rope.
Joe Ward is looking to make the right back position his own following an underwhelming Posh career to date by Jason Naismith. He certainly was going some way to do just that, linking up with Marcus Maddison excellently and putting in a handful of crosses which just evaded Ivan Toney and Matt Godden. Despite the early dominance, Bradford had a good chance to take the lead: a well work free kick wasn’t defended by Posh, and centre back Kelvin Mellor had a free header, which he powered straight at Chapman. If Mellor couldn’t seriously test Chapman from that situation, he’d never score. Am I right lads?
Ryan Tafazolli has been uncharacteristically shaky in recent months; Nowadays, his game mainly consists of thumping balls out of play when he had time to control it and play an actual pass. Nonetheless, we held firm, and one of Tafazolli’s long balls found Ivan Toney. The ex-Newcastle striker played a headed one-two with Matt Godden, and it would have been a lovely goal straight out of the Steve Evans playbook… had Toney not thumped a shot directly at Richard O’Donnell. Toney’s frustration didn’t last long; Marcus Maddison spearheaded a Posh counter attack, and picked out a sublime cross field pass which meant Toney was in acres of space. He made no mistake in making it 1-0, although Maddison deserves the lion’s share of the credit.
Posh were playing with confidence and style. Dembele and Maddison were both causing problems for T’Bantams’ defenders, and Louis Reed was outstanding; the Sheffield United youth product covered every blade of grass, but picked out some delicious passes from deep. Toney was involved minutes later, with a determined pressing run to close down O’Donnell. The goalkeeper couldn’t beat the Posh forward, and the ball fell to Matt Godden with the goal at his mercy. Instead of taking a touch to set himself up, he attempted the virtually impossible volley forwards, which drifted high and wide. Was that THE chance to make it 2-0?
No, it wasn’t. As half time approached, Matt Godden leapt well to flick the ball to Ivan Toney. Posh’s goalscorer somehow kept the ball under his spell and fed the lightning quick Dembele. The young Scot found himself one on one with the ‘keeper, and kept his cool to slide a shot into the bottom corner with his weaker foot. Half time: Posh 2-0 Bradford, and we deserved it. I know it’s hard to belive, but Peterborough United actually looked really, really good at London Road.
Curiously, Steve Evans swapped the wings his wide men were playing on during the interval, even though Maddison and Dembele were two standout players, linking up well with their fullbacks. Needless to say, the tinkering was reversed ten minutes into the half, as Maddison was instructed to return to the right wing and Dembele back to the left. Siriki Dembele looked to be through on goal early on in the second period, but the officials bizarrely deemed the ex-Grimsby winger to have fouled Kelvin Mellor. Referee Trevor Kettle had a funny old game, with some very weak challenges penalised and industrial ones let go, which almost pushed Steve Evans to *ahem* boiling point.
Bradford pressed hard to find their way back into the match, but simply didn’t have enough quality. Eoin Doyle tested Chapman with a driven shot, and apart from a few corners and long throw ins, created very little. In contrast, Marcus Maddison chipped in a threatening cross, Louis Reed volleyed over and Siriki Dembele delayed a shot for a second too long having embarked on a barnstorming run. Trevor Kettle once again courted controversy when he penalised Marcus Maddison for a ‘foul’, which was in fact an excellent dummy and turn on the halfway line which would have seen him clean through. Even worse, Ivan Toney looked to have been fouled inside the penalty area by left back Adam Chicksen, although Kettle felt that Toney tripped over his own feet. This raised the age old question of: ‘Which kicked Ivan Toney first: The Chicksen or his leg?’
And then, it all went wrong. Jason Cummings replaced Godden, and minutes later the slowest man in football Jason Naismith entered the fray in place of… Siriki Dembele. The latter substitution was a tad confusing, given that a reasonably solid back four was disrupted to allow Naismith in. It was clear that Posh felt this match was won and complacency began to creep in, as the defence dropped deeper and deeper. Mind you, there wasn’t much any defence in the world could have done when Kelvin Mellor absolutely twatted a shot into the top corner from more than 25 yards; it was a stunning goal, and I highly doubt the centre back will ever score a better one.
You just knew that it was a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ the second Bradford goal came. Posh dropped even deeper, Bradford pushed harder. We turned to shit. Steve Evans tried to counter the impending disaster by throwing on Mark O’Hara for the excellent Louis Reed, whilst we had two superfluous forwards still on the pitch. We looked desperate and increasingly clueless. And then, the inevitable happened; Luca McConville wasn’t closed down by Naismith or Maddison and fired a shot towards goal. It took a wicked deflection, and flew past Aaron Chapman. 2-2. For fuck’s sake.
If anyone was going to steal a guaranteed place in the third round, it was going to be Bradford. Fortunately, after a bombardment of long throw ins and set pieces, Trevor Kettle blew his whistle for full time. Posh will now have to travel to Valley Parade in 10 days, and the fuckers deserve such a trip after such a cowardly end to the match. 60 minutes of excellent football means absolutely nothing when the final 10 are so destructive. Steve Evans was brought in to stop this kind of nonsense. So far, he hasn’t, and alarms bells ought to be ringing. His negative tactics and abysmal approach to game management were huge factors in Posh stealing a draw from the jaws of victory.
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