Fan’s View 2019/20 – No.4 – Peterborough Home

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, August 11th, 2019  

ENGLISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1

OXFORD UNITED 1 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0

For the first home game last season a few of us gathered in the city centre, had a drink or two, then walked along the river to Sandford then across to the stadium. As we did it again I suppose you could say we’ve now established a tradition of sorts. The wind and intermittent rain wasn’t going to put us off.

Tree down, blocked path

As ever the company was good but sadly have to report there was a fair amount of disappointment in the quality of the beer both before and after the main event. More than once parts of pints were abandoned. Come on Oxford hostelries many of you need to up your game particularly considering prices charged and when compared with many other cities.

Truthfully though this is all rather irrelevant when the central point of the day out is the football. Having seen us remain unbeaten, gain a deserved win over a highly fancied side and yet to concede a goal from open play, I cannot believe the level of optimism I’m now experiencing given my feelings before the season commenced at the Stadium of Light. I do though need to put it on record that I’m in no way going to get carried away.

The Posh have some quality players in their ranks. Ivan Toney is a striker any club at this level would want, George Boyd has bags of experience and Marcus Maddison dictated this fixture in the previous campaign.

Once again we looked incredibly well organised and worked tirelessly throughout. We played simple effective passing football, moving the ball quickly and effectively with various options always being available. We didn’t try anything stupidly flashy which can result in lost possession and when Tariqe Fosu went on a little run it was the right thing to do.

It was all so satisfying to watch.

The only goal of the game came early in an affair that had very few chances but nevertheless showcased the high standards required to be competitive in the third tier of English football. No other country in the world can have such strength in depth.

We’d worked the ball around nicely before Chris Cadden set off down the wing where he pushed a pass through to James Henry teasing first time clipped cross was delivered in such a way as to be problematic for all the blue shirted defenders. Responsibility for dealing with it fell to Alex Woodyard but running back towards his own goal and the ball, he could only flick it away with little power to a waiting Cameron Brannagan. He demonstrated perfect technique, hitting a volley through Niall Mason’s legs from 15 yards low and hard past keeper Christy Pym into the back of the net.

In that first period we took the initiative very early on and through to the break never relinquished it. With the advantage ours we certainly didn’t need to force matters but still had a very good opportunity to go two up. Brannagan fed Ben Woodburn to his left but the Liverpool youngster either struck his shot all wrong or opted to use the wrong foot. It all looked a bit of a mess especially when compared with the way the man who had given him possession had dealt with the ball when a chance had fallen to him.

In the second half there’s no doubt that the visitors upped their efforts and energy wise matched us which was something they had not done previously.  This made no difference to our defensive solidarity though and the only time they came anywhere near equalising was with an excellently fired Maddison effort from considerable distance. It was prevented from going in the top corner by Simon Eastwood who flew through the air to pull off one of the best saves you’ll see all season. Although he had good sight it still needs keeping out.

It was us who came closer to getting the second goal of the game. Midway through this half Jamie Mackie broke on the right, waited and laid a pass to Henry whose shot bent away from Pym who wasn’t able to get anywhere near it. The crossbar saved the Posh but that should have been a very temporary respite as the ball dropped to Woodburn for a tap in. He put it over. There were plenty of disbelieving heads in hands behind the goal.

He didn’t hide though and about ten minutes later smashed an effort from outside the box that Pym could only keep out with his chest.

That we’d not got a second when we really should have brought with it that familiar dread of “we might well pay for this” but we saw out the match in fine professional fashion to end the day in 7th position in the nowhere near yet fully formed league table.

There’s much that can be said again about individual performances which will be a repeat of last week. Rob Dickie was again a giant and Mous is playing far too well to make way, in the league at least, for big money signing Elliot Moore. We really are not missing Curtis Nelson, who is yet to get on the pitch in the league for Cardiff.

Both full-backs got forward yet never seemed to get caught out at the back which says a lot about the level of fitness which is now demanded at the club.

Brannagan and Alex Gorrin did exactly the same again and I thought we were slightly weakened when the former, already on a yellow card was wisely taken off on the hour mark as referee Michael Salisbury had a very firm eye on him. Salisbury had waved red twice a week before so better to be safe than sorry. His officiating was way superior to that which we witnessed at Sunderland and he had a pretty good game.

Henry’s form dipped at the back end of last season due to family issues but he’s back at it now and when he plays well the team invariably do too.

Mackie again lasted all 90 plus minutes. His work rate and what he brings to the team cannot be over stated. Those 33 year old legs must know help is at hand now we’ve brought another forward to the club but I doubt a 22 year old can do what our Jamie does.

I know nothing about Dan Agyei other than his record: 20 league starts, 26 appearances as a substitute and eight goals. He had a few minutes in the Premier League at the back end of the 2016/17 season coming on for Burnley in the 88th, 83rd and 75th minutes against Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United.

I look forward to seeing what he brings to the team. We’re told it is pace and pace can hurt.

Things are looking up and we’ve got the recovering Shandon Baptiste and Mark Sykes (is he injured?) who weren’t on the bench with the possibility of one more forward coming in.

Some within our fan base criticise without hesitation and Karl Robinson has come in for some vicious abusive stick but given where we are now, and I acknowledge that things can go back the other way rather quickly, I hope they give him plenty of praise for what we appear to be building.

Massive credit to the players too for their efforts thus far.

And the owners too? Surprised I’ve asked this question? I’m still none the wiser about what they are doing behind the scenes to make us a sustainable football club that at some point in the future will no longer be (legally) shafted by FK but having come away from the AGM didn’t feel any worse than when I arrived.

The training complex, a tour of which was provided, is really impressive although at this point in time is not owned by OUFC. The story of our lives? And we were again reminded of the auditor’s comments that “the financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis, based upon the continued support of the company’s ultimate controlling party”.

So for that we should be kind of thankful and thankful too that we’re not Bury or Bolton.

Keeping an eye on things

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