Posh Spice - A look forward/back to Peterborough v Leicester City
By NNFox
Friday 09 Apr 2010 09:42:00
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Saturday 28th March 2009.

Leicester City’s team coach has been as far north as Hartlepool and as far south as Brighton in the preceding six months but today it travels just 40 miles due east along the A47 to Peterborough. The journey is made with some trepidation. Two and a half weeks earlier, City’s 23-match unbeaten run came to an end on the Wirral and in-form Posh are closing hard on the league leaders. What previously looked an unassailable gap would be down to just four points with defeat at London Road and City are still yet to face Leeds United.

There is a degree of bad feeling between the two sides going into the game, due in part to a comment made by Barry Fry early in the season citing the reputation of City supporters as the reason for a lunchtime kickoff. Fry is just one of three talking heads in the corridors of power at the club, each one seemingly desperate to make their voice heard.

For manager Darren Ferguson, it is probably fair to say it is a trait that runs in the family. The third, chairman Darragh McAnthony, comes across as a ruthless man who has gained financially from extreme self-confidence. The trio make Milan Mandaric look like a shy and retiring wallflower in comparison and they inevitably manage to stoke up the atmosphere prior to the game.

City take over 4,000 fans and, in doing so, account for nearly one-third of the crowd. Huddled in the vast terrace behind City’s temporary number one Tony Warner’s goal during the first half, nerves are frayed. Two key players are missing for the visitors, with Andy King on international duty and the suspended Steve Howard also unavailable. City look slightly blunt without Howard to lead the attack. In the swirling wind and rain, a Jack Hobbs header only makes it as far as the edge of the box and Charlie Lee sweeps past two City men to find the net in front of the away end just moments before the break. Posh add a second through right winger Chris Whelpdale ten minutes from the end and the home fans are having a party. They are convinced they will leapfrog City and cap a second successive promotion with a league title. They are wrong.

With the benefit of hindsight, this was perhaps the game which convinced Nigel Pearson that Patrick Kisnorbo and Max Gradel were below the standard required for the division above. Both started, City struggled and both now find themselves at a Leeds side again struggling to gain promotion from the third tier. My foremost memory of that game is the walk back to the car afterwards, featuring an uninvited flurry of bitterly cold hailstones. The whole day was a let-down from start to finish. We eagerly awaited the late-season terracing but the performance, result and weather combined to put paid to any sort of atmosphere.

Thankfully, Edgar Street lived up to the expectations that we had built of London Road and the travelling City fans enjoyed a day to remember there instead. That win at Hereford formed part of an unforgettable Easter weekend during which Posh took one point and City stole six. The league title was virtually wrapped up and Posh had to settle for second place.

Things are clearly very different now, just over a year on from the last trip to Peterborough, ahead of our return this weekend. January’s poor form seemed to spark a bout of worried City observers remarking that Pearson had weakened the team that won League One. A glance at the side that took on Posh that day suggests otherwise:

Warner, Gilbert, Kisnorbo, Hobbs, Mattock, Gradel, Berner (Hayles 62), Oakley, Dyer (Adams 72), Fryatt, Dickov.

Subs not used: Stockdale, Morrison, Brown.

That side, even allowing for the absence of King and Howard, would not be in our current position in the Championship table. Posh, on the other hand, genuinely look poorer on paper than they were this time last year. The departures of George Boyd and Paul Coutts have left their midfield looking weak and last weekend former City striker Iain Hume sealed their return to whence they came. So it comes to pass that City will again effectively face League One Peterborough United on Saturday.

Nigel Pearson never speaks publicly of revenge, even when comfortably dispatching a rival side that demolished City just months earlier. Inside, he may be keener than most to avenge that horror show at London Road last year and keep City on course to emulate Posh’s successive promotions.


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