Where We Are
As we enter the final run of fixtures there seems to be a lackadaisical attitude seeping in over many of our playing squad. We lost to Milton Keynes last Saturday but I’m not sure that too many of the players were that bothered. They may have been somewhat unlucky not to take at least a point but it seemed like the attitude that anything taken from that game was a bonus, which is quite frankly a ridiculous attitude to have. That is especially so when the club needs one more win at the very least and many of the squad are now playing for their futures, either with the club or elsewhere.
You get the feeling that Steven Pressley will not be overly bothered with the loss of our third top-scorer for Saturday’s trip to Peterborough. Whilst the Belgian has had a sensational season at the club, his form in the second half of the season has mirrored that of the club’s, some flashes of brilliance but not enough to win games. The beneficiary from this piece of team news could be Dylan McGeouch who has put in a number of strong performances with the reserve team but clearly didn’t move on loan from Celtic to play second-string football.
Another member of our ‘development squad’ who has been in good form is Louis Garner who recently scored a brace against Birmingham reserves. Garner who has played his first-team football thus far on the right of midfield has recently been shifted into a central attacking role where he has flourished. Given the lack of goals from all the forwards we have who aren’t called Callum Wilson, you’d imagine that Garner may get a chance to impress from at least the bench in the final few games of the season.
It’s largely though the same team to choose from as it was last Saturday for Steven Pressley. It will be interesting to see whether Conor Thomas will be restored to the first-team following David Prutton’s poor showing against Milton Keynes. The other selection dilemma could be over the identity of the back four and whether to go with the attacking full-back pairing of Cyrus Christie and Blair Adams or to remain conservative with Willis and Clarke as full-backs or even for Pressley to revert to a back five and try and soak up pressure from our opposition.
Last Time We Met
In probably the most recent memorable display from the Sky Blues this season, Coventry beat Peterborough 4-2 at Sixfields on Boxing Day. After being completely out-played in the first-half, Coventry had managed to keep the score down to 2-1 to our opponents with Lee Tomlin scoring just seconds after Leon Clarke tucked away what would have been a thoroughly undeserved equaliser. City managed to up their game after the break with the team pressing forward and putting pressure on the Posh defence where previously they had sat back. Goals from Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa and Callum Wilson were all expertly taken as Coventry showed a much more clinical edge in front of goal than their opponents whose game was falling to pieces. The closing stages of the game were mired in controversy with Peterborough claiming a shot had crossed the line following a goal-line scramble, the referee disagreed with Callum Wilson surging through the Posh defence from the ensuing counter-attack which sealed the 3 points.
How Are They Doing?
Ever since the start of November Peterborough have been walking a tight-rope in an attempt to remain in the play-off places. Despite starting the season as one of the favourites to win the league, Peterborough have been completely inconsistent. Their only solace has been that the teams attempting to close the gap between them and the play-offs have been even worse. A win on Tuesday night over Gillingham has seen Peterborough open up a 6 point gap over 7th place and you’d imagine that it’s just about job done for Darren Ferguson’s side. Knowing Peterborough United this will either spur them on to completely destroy us or could allow them to take the foot off the pedal to keep the play-off chase interesting.
The pre-game talk has been all about a golden boot contest between Coventry’s Callum Wilson and Peterborough’s Britt Assombalonga. Peterborough’s Congolese striker has returned to form after a sticky patch in the middle of the season and has played a large part in their recent up-turn in form. The former Watford striker has scored 27 goals in all competitions for the Posh which far outstrips the contribution of any other player in the team. He’s their go-to man in attack and provides a threat with pace, skill and a penchant for scoring ludicrous goals from long-range.
Peterborough’s other key player from our last meeting was Lee Tomlin who ran the show for large portions of the match. However with the former Rushden striker now at Middlesbrough, the Posh’s other key pivot player is Grant McCann who sits at the base of their midfield diamond. Much like this blog’s namesake Sammy Clingan, the Northern Ireland international likes to keep it calm and simple. On his day he can dictate play and keep control of the midfield, however as we saw on Boxing Day he can be hassled and hurried into making mistakes, you’d imagine that Conor Thomas would be recalled into the team to repeat the job he did on McCann.
Elsewhere in the side Peterborough have one or two useful operators. Tommy Rowe, either a midfielder or left-back, was heavily linked with Championship sides last summer but the Posh somehow managed to keep hold of him. Rowe has scored 9 times this season despite spending some long spells out with injury. Nicky Ajose has returned to the club following a decent loan spell at Swindon, after being the forgotten man since signing from Manchester United in 2011 the nippy striker now has scored 7 in the space of a few months.
This is probably the clash between the two most unpredictable sides in the division. Peterborough’s performance levels vary drastically from game-to-game and sometimes within games. Whilst our own displays have dipped probably since beating Peterborough, we have shown the odd flash here and there to show that we can trouble the best sides in the division. For me this game rests on how our defence copes with the pressure that Peterborough will put on us. If we can keep it tight then I see no reason that we can’t nick a win here, however my confidence with the defence isn’t the highest despite a recent strong spell.
To be honest I have no idea how this game is going to pan out, both sides are capable of both greatness as well as sheer idiocy. I’ll go for a 2-1 loss for Coventry.