Just when it looked like the run of draws was over, we somehow managed to extend it one game further with a late capitulation against Swindon. Not being at the game, it’s hard to ascertain just how concerned we should be about the late collapse. Staying positive for now, let’s just put it down as just one of those things that happen in even a successful season.
It would be pretty sweet to justify that positivity with back-to-back wins in back-to-back home games. With the three teams above us in danger of pulling away and those below closing in, failure to seize momentum could see us losing touch in the promotion race. Tony Mowbray’s usually managed to pull out results when the doubts had been mounting during his time here, a return to winning ways against Peterborough would be timely.
It’s going to be an interesting to see how Reice Charles-Cook reacts to finally conceding a goal in the league. Swindon’s first goal was a piece of individual brilliance and their second was a penalty, which Charles-Cook can hardly be faulted for conceding. Losing that air of impenetrability could possibly affect his confidence and without Reda Johnson in the side, the rest of the defence may be feeling less certain.
As ever, the main question heading into a Coventry City game at the moment is, how are we going to line up in attack? Tony Mowbray is still experimenting with his various options, now a quarter of the way into the season.
Joe Cole should be much closer to full fitness having had two games last week and a whole week to recover, it was hardly ideal that he had to come off against Swindon at half-time, even if we did score twice without him. With Cole likely to start, it’s unlikely that someone like Fortuné and Tudgay will start too as a hold-up striker. Cole will want pace and penetration ahead of him rather than someone playing with their back to goal.
Just who those players will be is the selection issue for Mowbray heading into this game. Jim O’Brien has performed ably since returning to the team and his industry is important to have amongst our more ephemeral performers up front. Ryan Kent remains a source of frustration, so much talent, so little end product, and could be a contender for the drop. With Jacob Murphy now our specialist substitute, if there is a change to be made it would likely be Lameiras for Kent but the latter may still be preferred for his ability to run in behind.
Last Time We Met
We pulled out two unlikely wins over Peterborough United last season. The first coming almost exactly at this time 12 months ago where Steven Pressley’s demoralised Coventry City side fell two goals behind and looked well-beaten. Inspired by the returning Frank Nouble and Reda Johnson though, the Sky Blues rallied in the second-half to win the game 3-2, leaving the entire Peterborough team utterly shellshocked at just what had happened.
At the end of March this year, Tony Mowbray’s Coventry City side travelled to London Road more in hope than expectation at getting result against a Peterborough side in decent form. In a game that the hosts probably edged, Blair Turgott made his one and only notable contribution for Coventry City in stealing in for the game’s only goal. A defence inspired by a rock-solid Aaron Martin and arguably Lee Burge’s best performance in goal held on for a valuable three points.
How Are They Doing?
Peterborough are always billed as promotion contenders at this level thanks to the performances of players such as Craig Mackail-Smith, Britt Assombalonga and Lee Tomlin still fresh in the memory of many observers. Since returning to this level three seasons ago, Peterborough have been on the decline with the players stepping into the shoes of the aforementioned proving to be pale imitations. Things were made worse this calendar year following Darren Ferguson’s overdue sacking and the decision to replace him with youth-team coach Dave Robertson who was clearly not up for the job.
The farce looked set to continue after the frankly bizarre decision to replace Robertson with Graham Westley a month ago. Whilst Westley is perhaps a harshly maligned manager at this level, his reputation for cynical, low-quality, defensive football seemed to jar with Peterborough’s reputation as being one of the most open and entertaining teams in English football. Westley promised that he would keep to the club’s traditions and thus far has been true to his word.
The goals are flying in at all angles and from both ends at Peterborough currently, that they are the division’s highest scorers and only have a goal difference of +6 should give you a decent impression of what’s going on at Peterborough. In very un-Graham Westley manner, the key player at this moment in time at London Road is the 5 foot 3 playmaker Erhun Oztumer (aka ‘The Turkish Messi’), who has clicked into life with a multitude of goals and assists since Westley’s appointment.
The goals have been shared out fairly equally throughout the team at Peterborough, which is down to the lack of a true central, goalscoring striker in the team. The likes of Lee Angol, Conor Washington and Souleymane Coulibaly are all decent forward options to have but none have reputations as lethal finishers.
With Peterborough’s defence being rather predictably far from water-tight, the other players to keep an eye on are in midfield. Jon Taylor, a direct and energetic winger, always looks a threat whenever I’ve seen him play against us. In a different way, Michael Bostwick has been an impressive player with his sheer presence on the pitch and is a threat with his long-range shooting. Finally, Irish import Chris Forrester has had a promising start to life at London Road, recently being compared to Michael Carrick by his manager in the press.
This may be a side managed by Graham Westley that we’re facing, but the idea that we’re facing a cynical, defensive, stodgy team likely to start timewasting from kick-off like a typical Graham Westley team would do, would be a wrong assumption to make. The danger heading into this game is not that we’ll have so much of the ball that we’ll be caught on the counter having failed to breakdown an organised defence but that the opposition will be able to outscore our dangerous looking but profligate attack. The key to winning this game will be how our defence can contain Peterborough’s attack and how incisive we can then be on the counter-attack.
Peterborough are likely to leave gaps at the back and when teams have been more open against us, we have done a lot better than the ones looking to contain us. I’m not sure though that we are clinical enough to go toe-to-toe in an all-out slug-fest against Peterborough should the game pan out that way. I am confident of a win though, 2-1 to the Sky Blues.