We were 1-0 down when the ball fell deliciously past the last defender’s shoulder giving Jamie Yates an angled one on one with two defenders in close pursuit. For a split second it looked a goal as he shot cleverly across the keeper who somehow made marginal contact with the ball, which rolled cruelly past the far post.
It was so close it brought me to my knees. On such pivotal moments matches are determined. Two minutes later we were 2-0 down when the frightening pace of McLean swept him beyond our defence and he struck a low hard shot just inside Warrington’s near post. How Peterborough celebrated!
The frustration for me was that just prior to their second goal we played what I call “stupid football”. 1-0 down with 12 minutes to play and we had possession in a promising position on the right flank – the opportunity was there for Joseph and Ross to deliver a ball into the box. Instead they pussyfoot around and lose possession. Needless to say this contributed to the passage of play leading to their second goal.
Unfortunately, this was one of a number of crucial situations when we displayed a lack of football intelligence and inexperience on a night when we stuck gamely to the task of chasing the game from the 22nd minute.
This was a close game. We worked hard all night but were never really allowed to settle into a rhythm. Peterborough have pace and energy in abundance. They hunted the ball down in packs and it was not unusual to see 3 of them scrapping with one of our midfielders for the ball. They were brilliant at breaking up our play and attacking with pace on the counterattack. Their movement off the ball up front was as good as any in this league.
Having said this, until McLean’s 81st minute strike they had very few goal scoring opportunities. Defensively, Peterborough did the basics very well indeed. They were very good at belting the ball well clear of danger whenever we got close to their box.
Although we worked hard it seems to me that some of our players have suffered a dip in form. Mark Joseph had a particularly difficult first half during which it appeared at times that he probably had the wrong studs on. Steven Brogan continues to frustrate. He gives us moments of brilliance with his surging runs forward and moments of anguish with some of his clearances. He has a tendency on occasions to strike round the outside of the ball instead of striking through the centre of the ball. The result is that instead of striking the ball down the touchline too many of his clearances go infield and become 50/50 situations. He needs to work on his distribution.
Incidentally, when is a multi ball match no longer a multi ball match? – When Peterborough are 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go and their stewards unashamedly walk the length and breadth of the pitch collecting every ball but one. I think it ridiculous that this should happen under the nose of the officials. Time and again during the last 20 minutes we had to wait for the ball to be retrieved before play could continue. A pretty cute way of breaking up our rhythm!
Just after the 4-minute board went up Taylor arrived at the near post to convert a quality cross from Ross. 2-1 down and suddenly Peterborough were nervous. We worked ourselves into a promising position on the left flank. We had bodies in the box. “Get the ball in the box,” we screamed.
But then came that footballing intelligence. Or lack of it. We had two or three opportunities to deliver but didn’t. When we finally crossed Steven Brogan hit the ball so deep beyond the far post that we not only lost the initiative but precious seconds. To give Steven his due he was calmness itself in rescuing us in two difficult goalmouth situations. One deft little header back to Warrington was brilliant.
Peterborough’s third goal was pure farce but I think we must forgive it. Peterborough ran the clock down against the corner flag. We got the ball back and in our desperation threw it to Peterborough who gratefully accepted the gift and Mackail Smith swept the ball home.
Despite our disappointment the majority of Miller’s fans stayed and applauded the team at the end and they returned the compliment. The team have given us so much pleasure on our travels this season that they deserve recognition for their long and outstanding run without defeat.
As I reflected on the game on the arduous journey back along the A1 I felt that the distinguishing asset between the two teams was pace. I think Peterborough have more of it than any team I have seen in this league. I expect them to challenge very hard for automatic promotion.