As the Easter footballing schedule got underway on Friday, the Sky Sports cameras were present at London Road to cast an eye over Peterborough United versus Coventry City. The Sky Blues’ supporters travelled in number to back Tony Mowbray’s men and they were hoping for a crucial set of three points.
Despite a blistering display in the first half, The Sky Blues couldn’t find a way past Ben Alnwick who was sensational in the home goal. It proved to be a case of flattering to deceive again though for the travelling side. Their loyal band of supporters were left seething at the full-time whistle as Peterborough ran out 3-1 victors.
With both sets of supporters generating an impressive atmosphere the game got underway. The opening exchanges proved to be well congested as the players looked to get to grips with the tie, but the visitors soon began to look incredibly dangerous going forward. It was Joe Cole who had the first sight of goal with 9 minutes played after a superb pass from Gael Bigirimana found Marc-Antione Fortune on the right wing. The striker then pulled the ball back to the ex-England man but he was denied by a fingertip save from Ben Alnwick.
Just 2 minutes later and Coventry were on the charge once more, this time Bigirimana slipped a perfectly weighted through ball to Jacob Murphy. The on-loan winger then took the pass into his stride before seeing a snapshot from 20 yards tipped smartly onto the post by Peterborough’s keeper. On the next attack, City won a corner and Cole’s delivery to the centre of the area found Andy Rose but he failed to direct his header.
As the away outfit continued to crank up the pressure on the home goal, Murphy saw another one-on-one opportunity open up with 17 minutes on the clock. His poor first touch fortunately fell back to his feet but his strike was disappointing as it struck Alnwick’s midriff. The onslaught carried on and some heroic Peterborough defending thwarted Fortune on 20 mins as his low driven strike was hooked off the line with the keeper beaten.
Sam Ricketts was the next to let fly just past the half hour after he ghosted into the area, but yet again the keeper pulled out an acrobatic save to divert the ball over the bar. He then clawed another strike away from danger just seconds later as John Fleck fed Fortune who drove an effort towards the near post. With 34 minutes played, some great build-up involving Murphy and Rose allowed the latter to drill in a low cross but Cole’s goal bound strike was blocked by a sliding defender.
The latter stages of the first half saw Posh settle down and control the football for the first time in the match. Some laboured Coventry passing in their own defensive third then handed Erhun Otzumer a chance but Bigirimana made a superb challenge to stop the midfielder getting a shot away. Just before the interval, Peterborough did somehow manage to take the lead to the despair of Coventry’s fans. Marcus Maddison projected a delivery towards the back post from a corner and Michael Bostwick met the ball with an accurate header that found the far corner.
With his side trailing at the break, Mowbray opted to introduce new signing Jodi Jones into the fray at the expense of Rose. The youngster made a lively start to his Coventry career as he latched onto a Bigirimana pass forward on 51 minutes. After plucking the ball out of the air with great technique, he saw a vicious strike that was destined for the far corner blocked via a Pererborough head.
Some end-to-end exchanges then soon followed on 53 minutes as Fleck forced Alnwick into another diving save before Chris Forrester called Reice Charles-Cook into action. This moment seemed to spark the home crowd into life and they were celebrating again on 61 minutes as they doubled their advantage. A hopeful ball was clipped into the right channel and a cross was driven into the Coventry area for substitute Lee Angol to guide a finish into the bottom corner.
After falling further behind, The Sky Blues almost reduced the deficit immediately as Murphy rocketed a fierce effort onto the frame of the goal. With 65 minutes on the clock, the away fans were handed some hope as Cole was on hand to claw a goal back. The Sky Blues initially cleared a corner which found Murphy and he produced a surging run down the left wing that left the home defence exposed. He then squared the ball across the face and Cole stroked it home to deny Alnwick a clean sheet.
In the space of a few minutes, Coventry’s route back into the game was blocked following a tumble from Darius Henderson who looked to be in on goal. The hosts then probed up the other end on 69 minutes they put the game to bed with their third of the night. It was another cross that dissected The Sky Blues’ defence and despite Romain Vincelot’s attempt at a clearance, Harry Beautyman latched onto a loose ball to seal victory for Posh.
Following Westley’s side opening up a two-goal lead, they looked to see out the game by controlling possession of the football. Meanwhile, City looked dejected and although they attempted to find a way back into the fixture once more, they failed to open up any more clear chances. Fleck had an optimistic strike from range saved on 83 minutes before Ricketts went close just before the final whistle, but it wasn’t enough to trouble Peterborough who held on to claim victory.
I have never left a football match so enfuraited and thoroughly gutted in my life. After arguably our best half of football this season in the opening 45 (without the goals of course), our inability to find large net proved incredibly costly. That coupled with the shambolic defending from our makeshift back four saw us capitulate. We were embarrassing at the back – it simply wasn’t good enough.
Going forward we looked incredibly menacing in the first half and I’m sure everybody that was watching the game was baffled as to how we weren’t leading. Sometimes luck isn’t on your side and we met a goalkeeper in inspired form, but as I said to my friend in the stands, promotion sides would have kept it tight at the other end. We didn’t and we gifted the home side victory. That elusive play-off position continues to slide away from City’s grasp and the task is certainly difficult from this point on.
Despite peppering the home goal we somehow failed to pull ourselves into a commanding position. We registered 22 efforts throughout the affair and 13 of those were on target. Undoubtedly, we will rue those missed chances and rightly so, but the second half performance was way below par. Of course, the game should have been wrapped up by half-time, but football doesn’t tend to play out in the way that it should.
We can take positives from the number of chances we created – albeit against a notoriously frail Peterborough defence – and Jacob Murphy showed us once more that he looks more threatening in a central position. Joe Cole was exemption so too as he orchestrated most of our attacks through the middle of the park, but it just wasn’t to be unfortunately. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves though, this result alone hasn’t killed us, a succession of poor results has.
If I sit here with my optimistic head on, if we create chances at such a rate from now until the end of the season then we should pick up a few points. However, I think it’s too much to ask now and we seem to have thrown away what looked to be such a successful season. Our form over the last 20 games is far from promotion calibre, and it will take a miracle now if we are to challenge in my opinion. We should have been cemented into the top six by now, but instead we are in a downward spiral.
As some people say, we have made progress from last season, but can we afford not to go up this time around? This was the best chance to return to the Championship we have had since dropping to League One, and it seems as if we’ve almost blown it. I’ll still attend every game from now until the end of the season but my hope is being scraped away. If the players can somehow put together a string of wins then we are still in with a shout, but we certainly haven’t done ourselves any favours. I still bloody love this club though! Let’s pray for something special.
Reice Charles-Cook – 6
Sam Ricketts – 5
Aaron Martin – 6
Martin Lorentzson – 6
Romain Vincelot – 5
John Fleck – 6
Gael Bigirimana – 5
Andy Rose – 6
Joe Cole – 7
Jacob Murphy – 7
Marc-Antione Fortune – 6
Jodi Jones – 6
Darius Henderson – 5
Marcus Tudgay – N/A
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Ricketts (C), Martin, Vincelot, Lorentzson, Fleck, Bigirimana (Henderson 60), Rose (Jones 46), Cole, Murphy, Fortune (Tudgay 75).
Unused Substitutes: Addai, Hunt, Phillips, Lameiras.
Peterborough United: Alnwick, Baldwin, Taylor (Angol 60), Bostwick (C), Oztumer (Coulthirst 39), Maddison, Santos, Beautyman (Gillett 76), Fox, Forrester, Williams.
Unused Substitutes: Tyler, Gillett, Nichols, Chettle, Nabi.