By Chris Dowsett
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It's been a little while now since I've written but today seems apt to start again. Similarly, this is what Peterborough United have done in the last 10 days. Following the pathetic 3-0 home defeat to Millwall, Posh have decided to ditch their more conservative style of play and replace it with the free-flowing attacking verve that excited our way to promotion last season and provided us with an excellent start to this season. Without that, we'd be very much looking down the barrel at this point. The last two games have given glimpses of what this side is very capable of, the next step is to perform at the very top of our game for an entire 90 minutes and take chances when on top.
Against Blackpool, Posh powered into a 2-0 lead but even then were guilty of missing chances when in control of the game. The Tangerines equalised with a quarter of an hour left and in previous weeks, we would have folded. However, the message seems to have got through, do what we do best and attack with pace. As a result, Posh made it 3-1 with a welcome return to the scoresheet for George Boyd, and in-turn picked up a very important three points.
The biggest test of resolve was going to be yesterday's fixture and the relatively short trip to Suffolk. Could we put in a similar performance against an Ipswich, who despite an impressive run of decent form, have underachieved this season. No doubt with the 7-1 defeat in August fresh in their minds, Paul Jewell's side would be keen to exact revenge. And so it turned out with the home side scraping a 3-2 win, but this game should have been remembered for the one where Posh should have won, and for only the 4th time this season, taken maximum points back to London Road. We didn't but there were plenty of positives.
Darren Ferguson showed consistency in selection, in naming the same team that cruised against Blackpool a week earlier. This gave the perfect opportunity for Shaun Brisley to gain more experience at Championship level and help bolster his partnership with Gaby Zakuani. Deciding to keep Tommy Rowe at left-back instead of the left side of the diamond immediately gave us more width and more potency going forward, and the former Stockport man didn't disappoint with an almost faultless display in his unfavoured position. Lee Tomlin's retention in the starting line-up was deserved and contrary of other people's opinions, the much maligned player again put in an excellent display. Finally, Ferguson gave Tyrone Barnett and Paul Taylor another opportunity to gel in the forward areas, as they look to become a solid front two.
The positive effects of consistency where immediately evident; Rowe providing much needed width, Tomlin's ability to control proceedings from midfield, a central defensive partnership that were acutely aware of each other's games and a striking pair that with more work could be lethal.
Posh should have been two ahead in the early stages with Barnett poking wide when it looked easier to score and Boyd failing to connect with a header from 5 yards out after a superbly whipped cross from Rowe. However, it was a similar story for Peterborough United, as they failed to make their early pressure count and it was the hosts who took the lead after Ipswich captain Grant Leadbitter lashed home a half volley after Barnett's poor headed clearance.
Posh stopped playing for the best part of the 20 minutes while they tried to work out how they were not in front, but after 34 minutes, Barnett ran onto a superb pass from Boyd and attempted to lift the ball over the onrushing Ipswich keeper. He failed as Alex McCarthy got his body in the way but the ball bounced back onto Barnett's shin and the ball dribbled into the back of the net.
The game proved to be a great advert for fast paced, exciting football for the remaining part of the first half and the majority of the second, however moments of quality were too often overshadowed by poor passing and decision making from both sides. However, the game really kicked into life with just 13 minutes left as both sides realised the importance of three points. It was the home side who edged in front after Posh once again failed to defend a set-piece and Daryl Murphy headed in after Paul Jones had initially made a fine save. It took Posh just six minutes to draw level though as Emile Sinclair controlled a Boyd cross and poked home to what appeared to give the visitors a much deserved point. It was Ipswich who had the last say, however, as Aaron Cresswell's hopeful drive hit Zakuani and flew into the net. Posh were hard done by, but poor defending rarely goes unpunished at this level and the Tractor Boys made us pay three times.
Posh played very well for the most part yesterday against a ragged Ipswich side but were the victims of their own downfall once again. The management have to drill it into the players that they have to score when on top, as far too often this season we have failed to capitalise when being the better side. The other problem that must be addressed is the defending of set-pieces. With at least four players who are decent in the air in the ranks yesterday, the conceding of three was unforgivable.
With ten games left, onwards and upwards is where we must head. The positives are there, it's just a case of learning from mistakes, and with Reading, Barnsley and West Ham all on the agenda in the near future, there is no better time to prove that Peterborough United deserve to be a Championship side for a good few years yet.
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