Preview: Peterborough United

You could say that Wednesday night’s defeat away at Sheffield United was a cold, hard dose of reality, but that was one game versus a lifetime of waiting to see this club win something. If you’re going to let an individual defeat sour the experience of Sunday, football just might not be for you.

Possible Line-Up

That being said, failing to win this upcoming game against Peterborough and having relegation confirmed would be a major buzzkill less than a week after winning at Wembley. Although relegation is inevitable at this point, it would be nice to preserve the sense of pride about supporting this club that came from last Sunday for as long as possible. These remaining home games are a chance to win new fans over and tempt old ones back, we cannot allow apathy to set back in so easily.

The line-up against Sheffield United indicated just how many injuries we’re carrying in the squad at this point. It’s likely then that the team selection for this forthcoming game will be a case of who’s fit rather than picking a team specifically designed to beat the opposition. Just who will be available is unclear, but don’t be too surprised to see further starts for Marcus Tudgay and Kevin Foley – maybe we’ll even get to see Michael Folivi finally.

Last Time We Met

In an alternate reality, Peterborough don’t score in the final minute at London Road back on New Year’s Eve, Russell Slade gets his first win, that confidence boost gives us an edge over Slade’s first few games in charge, we remain competitive in the league, Slade leads us out at Wembley, and his name and face are etched into our memories in a positive way. But that didn’t happen and the 1-1 draw against Peterborough earlier in the season was a sign of things to come under Slade.

It’s worth pointing out though that our home record against Peterborough is not only good in recent years, but we always seem to pull off remarkable comebacks against them. The last two meetings at the Ricoh Arena have seen us be two goals behind in each game, only to win 3-2. It was the same scoreline back at Sixfields, only Peterborough were 1-0, then 2-1 up before succumbing to a Leon Clarke masterclass in the second-half.

How Are They Doing?

It’s been a frustrating season for Peterborough where things just haven’t quite clicked for them on a consistent basis. They have a squad jam-packed with exciting attacking players such as Marcus Maddison, Tom Nichols, Paul Taylor, Leo da Silva Lopes, Brad Inman, Martin Samuelsen and Gwion Edwards, but have only demonstrated their potential on intermittent occasions, which is why they’re currently in mid-table rather than in the play-off position they really should be.

Peterborough’s bloated squad is probably the reason why they haven’t achieved what they should have this season. When there were on the fringes of the play-offs in January, Grant McCann wanted the squad trimmed, instead, five first-choice players were signed and it took too long for McCann to integrate them into the side.

The strength in depth though has to be considered a major threat heading into this game. The rangy and mercurial winger Marcus Maddison stands out as Peterborough’s best players and probably one of the best in the division when he’s at his best. He has an absolutely thunderous left-foot and can strike long-range efforts at an angle from long distance from both dead ball situations and set-pieces.

Currently, it is a strike pairing of Tom Nichols and Junior Morias for the Posh. Nichols has had a decent season in front of goal, registering 10 as well as a fair few assists, but hasn’t quite been a reliable finisher. Morias has come in from non-league Boreham Wood and scored some absolutely stunning goals and is a fairly pacey player as well, so he’ll have to be watched carefully.

Possible Line-Up

In midfield, Peterborough have dynamic players in Chris Forrester and Leo da Silva Lopes who’ll play in the wide positions of a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Sitting at the base will be Anthony Grant, who is an absolute bastard, probably the best at what he does at this level of football. He’s a fairly tidy midfield player and a decent tackler, but it’s that he’s an expert in winning soft free-kicks, making nasty, niggly tackles that seem to go unnoticed by referees and wasting time – a nightmare to play against when you fall behind.

Peterborough’s defence is probably the weak area of the side, they have good players for this level in the form of Michael Bostwick, Jack Baldwin and Michael Smith, it’s just that their playing style can leave them open at the back. In goal, they have Tottenham youngster Luke McGee who has had a decent season, especially considering he was a bit of a panic signing at the end of the summer transfer window.

Prediction

I’m in two minds about this game. I’m concerned that the number of injured players we’re carrying is going to make this a tired and disjointed performance against a team with a number of very talented attacking players. However, I’m hoping that the sense of goodwill following the win at Wembley will give the team the shot in the arm they require to get the win here to stave off relegation.

Given Peterborough’s inconsistent nature this season, I’m going to go for positivity heading into this game. I think we’ll win, and it will be a 2-1 scoreline.

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Preview: Peterborough United

Another game, another shellacking, this time it was to Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day, which now sends us into part two of Russell Slade’s pre-transfer window reconnaissance mission crossing our fingers that this somehow isn’t going to be yet another heavy defeat.

I would imagine that most Coventry City fans assumed that the appointment of a ‘proper’ manager to step into the breach wouldn’t be a silver bullet solution, and the 4-1 loss on Monday has proven that assumption to be true. There doesn’t seem to be a combination of our current set of players that could conceivably go on to beat the drop this season. It’s not just going to take a few decent signings and a confidence boost to save us this season, a complete re-think in every area of the pitch is the absolute minimum.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

For this upcoming game against Peterborough, Russell Slade can either choose to take a look at some of those players that were left out against Bristol Rovers, just in case there’s anything there worth working with, or he can stick with a similar formula as he looks to put in place the building blocks of our survival push. If we can’t take points from this game, something that can help Slade form a team unit as quickly as possible has to come out of this game.

As for the team selection, without any new injuries or suspensions, Slade is free to pick whatever team he feels is appropriate. This may be a chance to play the likes of Dion Kelly-Evans and Ryan Haynes instead of the soon-to-be departing loan players, but Slade doesn’t seem like a risk-taker to me and I can see most of the loan players who were involved on Boxing Day starting again here.

Last Time We Met

It was prior to our last meeting with Peterborough United that we were given the signal by Tony Mowbray that he had given up on any hope of making the play-offs. The signings of Jodi Jones and Vladimir Gadzhev were clearly with the following season, in League One, in mind, so we entered our Good Friday trip to London Road knowing pretty much that the jig was up for what was once such a promising campaign.

Despite dominating that first-half, with Gael Bigirimana and Marc-Antoine Fortuné both playing particularly well, Graham Westley’s Peterborough benefited from some woeful set-piece defending to take the lead before the stroke of half-time. We then went to pieces as Peterborough discovered an extra gear in the second-half and scored a second goal. Joe Cole pulled a goal back after a piercing counter-attack from a corner-kick. Darius Henderson could have levelled matters, before he realised he was Darius Henderson and gravity got in his way. Peterborough punished Henderson’s air-kick by scoring a third and final goal pretty much straight afterwards.

How Are They Doing?

Peterborough probably endured a worse collapse last season than we did. From playing some of the best football in the division and looking set to surge into automatic promotion contention, the sale of star striker Conor Washington and some bizarre tactical decisions from Graham Westley saw them completely lose momentum and slump down towards mid-table obscurity.

However, Peterborough chairman decided to entrust the managerial rookie Grant McCann, who had enjoyed a brief but entertaining caretaker spell before Westley’s arrival last season, with the full-time manager’s role this season. As it as ever thus at London Road, Peterborough have scored lots of goals this season but have struggled for consistency, only, they’ve been slightly less inconsistent this time around then the past few seasons.

Peterborough possess an impressive array of attacking talents, with the rangy winger/number 10 Marcus Maddison playing the role of conductor, with eight assists to his name and maintaining a lethal shot from set-pieces. The performances of striker Tom Nichols and winger Gwion Edwards have caught the eye too. Nichols is starting to live up to his promise, having been signed as Conor Washington’s replacement last season and struggling for form. Welsh winger Edwards is Peterborough’s leading scorer with seven goals and is a bundle of energy and skill, with the occasional eye for the spectacular.

The troubled but mercurial talent of forward Paul Taylor returned to Peterborough this summer and is playing more like the man sold to Ipswich for £1.5m than the one who spent the entirety of last season without a football club. The returns to fitness of last season’s top-scorer Lee Angol and former Crewe midfielder Brad Inman have further bolstered Peterborough’s ranks with goalscorers.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

Others to watch out for include the metronomic Chris Forrester in midfield, a lanky Irishman with a wonderful range of passing whose playing style is reminiscent of Ben Stevenson. Leo da Silva Lopes on the left of midfield has been watched by Premier League clubs for much of the season and is a ludicrously gifted dribbler of the ball who also possesses great energy and can get stuck-in defensively on occasion.

Interestingly, despite their struggles for consistency with so many talented attacking players, their defence has been one of the better units in the division. Spurs loanee Luke McGee in goal has been remarkably solid for someone signed in a relative panic on transfer deadline day when Ben Alnwick unexpectedly announced his intention to leave the club. Jack Baldwin and Ryan Tafazolli are two very promising up-and-coming young centre-backs. While there’s always Michael Bostwick who provides some presence to the defensive unit, either as a defender or defensive midfielder.

Prediction

Given that we’ve been thrashed over the past month by teams that aren’t particularly free-scoring, it’s hard to see how we’re going to do any better against a side with goalscorers all over the pitch. Having had more time to work with the squad than he did for the Bristol Rovers game, hopefully Russell Slade will have instilled a modicum of defensive solidity, but he’s still working with a back four of inexperienced full-backs and the two Jordans, there’s only so much he can do.

So to sum up this 1000-word preview more concisely, we’re going to lose 4-0.

May 2017 bring in change on as many fronts as possible.

Preview: Peterborough United

When Sky picked out this game for live coverage back in January, this looked set to be a contest between two of the bigger clubs in this division duking it out for automatic promotion. Now though, it’s a game between the two teams 20th and 21st in the form table over the past six games. With eight players between the two teams called up for international duty too, it’s fair to say that Sky have picked a game for their subscribers in danger of being a damp squib.

A point in our last game against Swindon was okay I suppose but the performance did highlight just how far we’ve dropped over the past few months. Whereas before we would have relished taking on one of the division’s form sides at the Ricoh Arena, we set ourselves up to nick something rather than put them to the sword.

In fairness to Mowbray, all of our bright attacking players are out of form leaving us short of that explosive quality to eviscerate teams. We could probably have done with adding one or two more exciting attacking players to the squad to freshen things up but the plan it seems is to sneak our way back into the play-offs with more performances similar to the Swindon game to follow.

This game is all about managing the impact of losing Jack Stephens, Adam Armstrong and James Maddison to international duty. The loss of Stephens is perhaps the biggest blow because it looked like we had found a back four that worked against Swindon and we’re now looking at playing either Romain Vincelot or Stephen Hunt in defence to get us through this game. Although he’s struggled of late Armstrong is the only out-and-out goalscorer we have in the squad. Maddison hasn’t been starting lately but does leave us short of an impact sub.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

In attack, it’s likely that the main change from the Swindon game will be Jacob Murphy in for Adam Armstrong. Murphy showed with a brace against Colchester back in November that he can play just behind Fortuné effectively although the dip in form and confidence could well limit his effectiveness. With Cole and Rose in our other attacking positions, Murphy is our biggest goal threat in open play which makes his performance one of the most important.

Following an impressive win for the under-21s on Monday night, there is a chance for a few of those involved to stake a claim for a more regular place in the side. Jodi Jones drew the headlines with two goals and an assist, he could well be the injection of flair this team has needed. Gael Bigirimana also had a strong performance and could start this game should Vincelot drop into defence. Ruben Lameiras and George Thomas could also find themselves involved too with a longer shots for involvement including Jack Finch, Dion Kelly-Evans or Cian Harries.

Last Time We Met

Having once again failed to beat Swindon, it’s nice to know that sometimes these weird bogey team things happen the other way. Out of our last six meetings with Peterborough, we’ve beaten them five times and on three occasions comeback dramatically having been thoroughly outplayed in the first-half.

Our most recent meeting with them must have played out as a nightmare for Posh fans. Peterborough looked to be a different sport to us in the first-half at the Ricoh back in October. Dominating possession, we couldn’t even get close to them as they tapped-tapped-tapped their way around us. A 2-0 lead at half-time was thoroughly deserved and there didn’t look to be anyway back for us.

The turnaround was partially down to Peterborough manager Graham Westley’s decision to get his team to time-waste and feign injury rather than go for the jugular and also the sheer determination of our beaded warriors Romain Vincelot and Jim O’Brien to haul us back into the contest. It was Vincelot who bundled home a set-piece 10 minutes after the break before Jacob Murphy blitzed past three Peterborough defenders to put it on a plate for Armstrong to equalise. The winner from Armstrong was pure class as he took out two defenders with one touch before curling the ball into the far corner to cue delirium.

How Are They Doing?

I don’t think enough can be said about just how good Peterborough were for 45 minutes against us back in October, they were by far the best team I’ve seen play against us at this level. They had that snake charmer-like quality of hoarding possession, lulling you into a stupor with a thousand sideways passes before knocking a perfectly-weight diagonal pass to knock you off balance and working the ball effortlessly into the back of the net before you realised just what had happened. If there was any team that I saw going on to win this division at a canter, it was Peterborough.

That inability to see out the win against us was an early sign of just why they have fallen off so badly over the past few months. For a while after that game, they kept that metronomic domination of games and could completely dismantle teams. The loss of Conor Washington, a striker who was made to look brilliant through the sheer number of chances Peterborough created, was a big loss as it has transpired but the negative tactics and constant tweaking from manager Graham Westley completely disrupted that momentum too.

On the loss of Washington, Peterborough decided to take the scattergun approach to replacing Washington, bringing in four new strikers to replace the loss of one. Understandably, the disruption caused by attempting to integrate so many new players hasn’t been in any way helpful. The most promising of the four is a player who’s scored in his last two appearances and started the season with Nuneaton Town, Aaron Williams. Similar to Washington, Williams was regarded by Nuneaton fans as an energetic but fairly wasteful forward.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

Behind the forward line there is plenty of quality but it appears that Westley’s random selection policy which often involves playing players completely out of position has proven detrimental. Marcus Maddison is a languid winger with excellent delivery and a lethal long-range shot and has been played from time-to-time at full-back. The simply magic Erhun Oztumer, scorer of a stunningly nonchalant long-ranger at the Ricoh, has been dropped at random by Westley for no reason at all.

Chris Forrester in central midfield can run games with his passing, Jon Taylor on the wing has bundles of energy and is a real goal threat, Michael Bostwick at the back is one of the most committed defenders in the division. There is so much talent in this side but they’ve been poorly managed to be sitting where they are in the league.

Prediction

The poor form of both of these teams makes this game hard to predict. Although both sides may be feeling that they’re turning a corner, if the evidence of our last performance against Swindon is anything to go by, the process of corner turning may well be too late to salvage anything from this season.

Worryingly, Peterborough have been scoring goals even in their poor run of form whereas they’ve dried up for us and we’re without our top scorer and a key defender. Though I think that Peterborough are slight favourites for this game, I can’t help feeling that we can pull something out of the bag here. I’m predicting a 1-0 victory for the Sky Blues.

Preview: Peterborough United

Another home game lost in farcical circumstances with another performance lacking in intensity for 90 minutes. The way this team veers from complete comfort to complete disarray has been the theme of the season and if we do go down, it will be because of that carelessness that was once again on show at the Ricoh Arena last week.

The important thing though is to not dwell on the disappointment of missing out on what would have been a third consecutive win and one that would have taken the pressure off some big remaining fixtures. Too often we have seen mistakes lead to goals conceded, goals conceded leading to defeats and defeats leading to more defeats. There isn’t time to prattle around feeling sorry for ourselves, it’s pick yourself up and go an again time.

Given the way the relegation battle has completely folded in on itself like an accordion over the past two weeks, this tough away trip to Peterborough falls into the category of at least ‘must not lose’. It’s also not inconceivable that we’ll need all three points just to maintain inertia in the race for survival. If it didn’t before, every game is important right now.

Mowbray has now had a week uninterrupted to work with the squad, surely a good thing?

Mowbray has now had a week uninterrupted to work with the squad, surely a good thing?

Still, a week’s rest gives the first pause in Tony Mowbray’s reign gives the new manager time to really work with the squad and implement his methods. We have seen glimpses of what Mowbray should eventually bring to this football – bright, attractive, attacking football. Currently though, the natural tendency is towards cautiousness, panic and fear. It remains to be seen whether there’s enough time for Mowbray to institute his methods to keep this team up but if we do stay up, at least it will be on our own terms rather than the turgid affair last season descended into.

With no new loan signings being added to the team, the key players for the rest of the season look to be the experienced heads of Reda Johnson, Marcus Tudgay and, possibly, Andy Webster. With the first two still injured and the latter the third choice centre-back, this away game at Peterborough will be a test of the mental fortitude of players that have often been found wanting in that department this season.

Jim O’Brien looked a much more effective playing a Ji-Sung Park-style, scrappy attacking midfielder role against Doncaster last week and if we can keep him in that area of the pitch for 90 minutes, we give ourselves a better chance of winning. With Barton and Nouble as our wide players, that defence that made so many shocking errors last week will have to step up whilst hoping that the players ahead of them can do the business this time.

Possible Line-Up: (4-2-3-1) Burge; Willis, Pennington, Martin, Stokes; Ward, Fleck; Barton, O’Brien, Nouble; Samuel

Last Time We Met

How much earlier would Steven Pressley had been sacked had he lost our last meeting against Peterborough? Seven league games winless, 2-0 down at half-time and no longer with the excuse of being without his two most influential players in Reda Johnson and Frank Nouble. If there was fair justification for Pressley to lose his job before the game, his position would have been near untenable had the final whistle blew on the 45th minute.

However second-half goals from Ryan Haynes, Jim O’Brien and the unstoppable, on that day, Frank Nouble helped force a remarkable comeback that had seemed to have come from absolutely nowhere. As the Peterborough defenders bounced, dumbfounded off Nouble for the coup de grace third goal to clinch a vital win, it had seemed that the Sky Blues were finally clicking back into gear to mount an assault back up the table.

How Are They Doing?

That defeat came at around the beginning of the end for Darren Ferguson’s second spell at Peterborough United. The Posh are yet to appoint a new permanent manager but have instead allowed youth-team boss Dave Robertson to audition for the role and he has won five from his first six games in charge. Extraordinarily for Peterborough, Robertson’s success has been built on rock solid, basic defending which has seen his team concede a miserly three goals in just under a month.

Marcus Maddison scored an extraordinary free-kick in the last meeting between these two sides.

Marcus Maddison scored an extraordinary free-kick in the last meeting between these two sides.

Peterborough’s attacking players have largely failed to live up to the flair usually expected at London Road. The strikers Conor Washington and Luke James have largely been misfiring, although have showed signs of improvement along with the rest of the team of late. The main danger man will be Marcus Maddison, a languid winger who can compensate for his selfish tendencies with stunning long-range goals both in open plays and directly from set-pieces. Given our recent struggles with direct free-kicks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name on the scoresheet.

With first-choice centre-backs Gabriel Zakuani and Ricardo Santos unavailable for this fixture, Christian Burgess and Shaun Brisley will have to step up. Burgess, once a signing at Middlesbrough by Tony Mowbray, is an elegant, but somewhat error prone, ball-playing centre-back. Brisley is more run-of-the-mill centre-back who has struggled to nail down a starting spot in nearly three seasons with the club. In goal, Ben Alnwick has been one of Peterborough’s best players this season and regularly produces points-winning performances.

Peterborough have also added three players on loan deadline day with Bradford left-back Alan Sheehan, Leicester right-back James (son of Nigel) Pearson and recent Sky Blues loanee Luke Williams. Given the amount of goals that we have once again conceded to ex-players, I would be surprised of bookies were even taking bets on Williams scoring. Just to make sure that they do score against us, Sheehan is another threatening set-piece taker.

Hopefully some the opposite of two wrongs making a right will be in place here by the way that Peterborough have added players specifically designed to target our weaknesses.

Possible Line-Up: (4-2-3-1) Alnwick; Smith, Burgess, Brisley, Sheehan; Payne, Bostwick; Taylor, Maddison, Newell; James.

Prediction

On paper, a contest between a play-off chasing team in their best form of the season against a relegation battling side in largely indifferent form should be no contest. Where the game will be won and lost though will be on our ability to score goals versus Peterborough’s ability to keep them out. If we can take an early lead, as well as add to it, Peterborough’s struggles in front of goal could see this game go against the form book.

Still, you would imagine that Peterborough will be fired up for this home game as, unlike us, they can rely on a positive home atmosphere and the results that follow. I just have a strange feeling that we might cause something of an upset here though, 2-1 win for the Sky Blues.

Preview: Peterborough United

The losing run shows no sign of abating and if Tuesday night’s game with Oldham is any indication, we are some distance from the end of this run. What a time it is then to playing Peterborough, famous for scoring loads of goals and currently second in the division.

We've badly been missing Reda Johnson's passion.

We’ve badly been missing Reda Johnson’s passion.

It is crucial then that the duo of Reda Johnson and Frank Nouble can find themselves somewhere in the vicinity of the stadium for this fixture. This team appears to lack any semblance of character or fight without the two in the team. Powder-puff, ponderous, and increasingly, pathetic as a team unit without our captain and best striker. Whilst the loss of an inspirational captain and a physically powerful striker would be a blow to any team in this division, it has been surprising just how much it has affected this team.

So all will be well when Reda and Frank are back, that’s the theory at least. It’s kind of comforting to think that we can put a large part of our recent poor form down to the loss of two key players. Provided both are fit enough to play on Saturday, we will learn whether it has been a total coincidence or not that we have been desperately woeful as a result of injuries rather than just simply being crap.

The only player to emerge from that shellacking against Oldham with any credit is the youngster James Maddison. Whilst his goal from a free-kick appeared to be incredibly fortuitous, a weak effort taking a sizeable deflection off the wall, he might just be the most talented footballer ever produced by the club’s academy. We need to be careful not expect too much from him, too soon, however injuries and the poor form of others have handed him an opportunity to nail down a starting place at an incredibly young age. Maybe he just is that type of young player who is not phased by first-team football.

Should Nouble and Johnson attain full fitness in time for the Peterborough game, it will be pretty much a full squad for Pressley to choose from. It will then be a case of finding the formula that will provides defensive solidity whilst providing a threat in attack, thus far under Pressley the two seem to be mutually exclusive ideas. With sections of our fan-base losing patience with Pressley, it would take a lot of pressure away from his job if he were to avoid defeat, even better if we can beat Peterborough. Like many I desperately want Pressley to overcome this poor run of form as his vision is unique amongst Coventry City managers, hopefully this game can kick-start the sputtering Sky Blue engine.

Possible Line-Up (5-3-2): Allsop; Phillips, Willis, Webster, Hines, Haynes; O’Brien, Barton, Thomas; Maddison, Miller.

Last Time We Met

Last season’s ‘home’ meeting with Peterborough was an unforgettable game and probably the last great performance of the Leon Clarke-Callum Wilson-era. After being thoroughly out-played in the first-half, the Sky Blues were only a Shaun Jeffers goal behind heading into half-time. Posh keeper Bobby Olejnik then passed the ball to Leon Clarke who scored with a tap-in, 1-1.That joy was short-lived as the unstoppable Lee Tomlin danced through the Coventry City defence to give Peterborough a deserved 2-1 lead going into the break.

What happened next was completely impossible to predict given the dominance which Peterborough displayed in the opening 45 minutes. Leon Clarke played with a purpose rarely seen amongst those who have pulled on a Sky Blue jersey. First, he scored from a fumble from Olejnik not too long after half-time. He should have completed a hat-trick a couple of minutes later but was ruled offside. With the game reaching a close, Clarke played a slide-rule pass to Franck Moussa who made it 3-2.

The game ended in controversial circumstances as Peterborough claimed they had scored from a goal-line scramble, the referee decided not. Whilst the Posh were protesting, John Fleck played an excellent pass into space for Callum Wilson who was completely free of any defenders. Like he so often did, Wilson finished from the eventual one-on-one to make it 4-2 and a memorable Boxing Day had by all of those lucky enough to witness it.

In stark contrast, the following game was less dramatic. Early goal scored by Peterborough, header from a corner from one of the shortest players on the pitch, Sky Blues low on confidence, game over.

How Are They Doing?

Peterborough were gloriously erratic last season. winning 23, losing 18 and drawing just 5 times in the league. They did though win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, thanks in part to one of Josh McQuoid’s two goals for the club. Despite reaching the play-offs, the season was regarded as a failure by many Peterborough fans.

This season has been an attempt to introduce some more consistency at London Road, although that always seems to be the task there. A solid start sees Darren Ferguson’s side in second place but three defeats in the past seven games shows that they are still fallible.

The loss of Britt Assombalonga to Nottingham Forest was a blow, the former Watford youngster was a goal machine at this level with an explosive burst of pace and trickery. In true Peterborough fashion, a couple of former non-league players have risen to the task of replacing Assombalonga’s goals. Joint top-scorers this season are Kyle Vassell (no relation to Darius) and Conor Washington. Vassell arrived from Bishop’s Stortford last season and struggled to make any impact  in his first half-season with the club, this year though he has been a revelation after reaching Football League standard fitness levels. Washington was another who arrived half-way through last season, his four league goals last season were a decent return but the former Newport man has already surpassed that number this time round.

Don't. Back. Off. Marcus Maddison.

Don’t. Back. Off. Marcus Maddison.

The star-man this season has been ex-Gateshead winger Marcus Maddison. A year ago he was on the fringes of the team at Gateshead before the arrival of Gary Mills as manager. Mills turned Maddison into one of the best players in the Conference last season as an Arjen Robben style winger who likes to cut inside and shoot. He can though be incredibly selfish as a footballer but his ability from free-kicks and long-range is simply peerless in the third-tier.

Heading into this game Peterborough were set to be missing two key defenders in Michael Bostwick and Jack Baldwin through suspension. The club have successfully appealed Bostwick’s sending off so the centre-back, who is also very talented in midfield, will be Peterborough’s ball-playing defender at the Ricoh Arena. Another centre-back to watch from Peterborough is Christian Burgess. A classy presence at the back, Burgess was a stand-out player for Hartlepool United last season in League Two and has made the step up to League One with ease, someone to keep an eye on in seasons to come.

A final word on a player who is yet to make a mark at London Road this season, Erhun Oztumer. Another in a long line of ex-non-league players in Peterborough’s squad, Oztumer is interesting in that he is 5 ft 3 and scored 28 goals for Dulwich Hamlet last season in the 7th tier from midfield. You wonder whether a player so short would be able to make such an impact in League One but he has used from the bench in recent weeks and can be an electric presence if he can get close to replicating his form with Dulwich (for more read here).

Possible Line-Up: (3-4-3) Alnwick; Burgess, Bostwick, Santos; Smith, Anderson, Payne, Newell; Maddison, Washington, Taylor.

Prediction

We’re getting to the stage now where we are in such bad form that we could just produce a freak performance and surprise everyone, including ourselves. By their very nature it’s hard to predict when those performances will happen. It could come in time for this game against Peterborough, it might be weeks or months away. If we do upset Peterborough it will be because a number of things have changed, most likely one of those will be called Frank Nouble and another Reda Johnson. Whilst Peterborough under Darren Ferguson are hard to predict, they will relish playing a Coventry City side currently with little presence in attack or defence.

My prediction for this game is very much with my sensible hat on. A 2-1 defeat for the Sky Blues.