The Wrap: Peterborough United – 2-1

The gap to the play-offs has been closed to just one point as the Sky Blues produced a composed and effective away performance at top six rivals Peterborough United. Where there had been questions little over a week ago surrounding the mental fortitude of this side, Mark Robins’ charges demonstrated a killer touch to weather an initial Peterborough onslaught and then to hold onto the lead in an extended injury time period in which the home side netted a consolation against the run of play.

A Mark Robins Away Day Special

If you had to pick one Coventry City manager out of recent history to set a team up for an important away performance, it would be Mark Robins. His two spells at the club have been characterised by hard-working and effective yet exhilarating away days, and this was another case study in what Robins does best.

Much of the first-half was dominated by Peterborough United as their movement and pressing made life difficult for us – particularly on a very windy day when the prevailing breeze was against us in the opening stages of the game, making kicking long out of defence difficult. Lee Burge was the player of the first-half for us, if not the whole game, making a handful of crucial saves as Posh sliced through our defensive organisation.

The goal Peterborough threatened to score didn’t come, allowing us to grow into the game and enact the plan Mark Robins had set us up for. Amadou Bakayoko slotted home from Luke Thomas’ through-ball, shattering the momentum of the game and swinging it in our favour from then on in.

This wasn’t a performance simply of good fortune, the effort and organisation of the side limited Peterborough’s effectiveness and flow as the game wore on, seeing us gradually take control of proceedings. The second-half was close to away day nirvana , everything we did was slick and effective, from the speed with which we counter-attacked to the poise and composure in possession. Peterborough had been thoroughly worn-down and looked punch-drunk and thoroughly fed-up in the closing 45 minutes (that late consolation goal not permitting).

Our Best XI

On Tuesday night, we fortuitously found our way to victory over Fleetwood Town, that Mark Robins made four changes to that side said everything about the quality had been unavailable in our last game. In Jordan Willis and Dominic Hyam, we have possibly one of the best central defensive pairings in the division, in Liam Kelly an excellent midfield organiser and Bright Enobakhare, a genuine maverick attacking talent who could prove to be the difference we were missing in the first half of the campaign.

Jordan Willis and Dominic Hyam’s returns were most admirable considering that Willis was limping through the closing stages of a game just over a week ago and Hyam was involved in a 100 mph car-crash just a few days before that. With Willis the battling, warrior defender – with the pace in reserve to allow us to play 10-15 yards further up the pitch – and Hyam the calm and composed presence, the duo are a very effective defensive pairing, and can cover for their lack of height.

Liam Kelly’s presence in midfield gave the front four, and Tom Bayliss, the licence to do what they do best, run directly at the opposition. In the second-half especially, our counter-attacking play really clicked and there looks to be an excellent understanding of the kind of runs their fellow attackers will make and how to make the most each others’ qualities developing – Amadou Bakayoko in particular benefiting from the flow of those around him, utilising his manic work-rate in an effective manner as the lone striker.

Setting the tone for everything though was a superb all-round goalkeeping performance from Lee Burge. One save in particular, from Matt Godden from point-blank range in the first-half, underlined a dominating performance in goal from our number one. That was the Lee Burge that helped us to back-to-back Wembley wins, the Lee Burge that we would be sore to lose in the summer.

Fair Weather Posh

There are two sides to every win, the excellence of the victor, the failings of the defeated. As great an away performance as this was, Peterborough’s surrender of a dominant position was notably limp and meek, even from a Sky Blue-tinted perspective.

Peterborough handed their star man, Marcus Maddison, a free role, the forward’s movement made him nigh-on impossible to mark, his technique made him nigh-on impossible to stop once we could get close to him. Everything good about Peterborough came through Maddison, but when he was most needed for inspiration, he was nowhere to be seen.

The second-half from Peterborough was characterised by rash challenges, sloppy passes and a slew individual errors. On another day, they could have been down to 9 men and gave a penalty away – although the referee probably got those key decisions right – they certainly should have been three down after Bakayoko had a perfectly good goal disallowed, it could have been more.

On another day, things could have gone in Peterborough’s way, but football is so often about forcing it when things are going against you. This was a side clearly lacking in leaders and allowed things to play out against them. To our credit, we exploited an opportunity to punish a side for its laxity and mental weakness in a clinical fashion.

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