Peterborough United 2
Zakuani 52, Bostwick 90
Bradford City 0
Saturday 28 February, 2015
By Kieran Wilkinson (images by Thomas Gadd, see note below)
28 February 2015, 16:55, London Road: the crowd are singing his name again “Aaron Mclean! Goal Machine!” A brace by Mclean has seen off his former club Peterborough and propelled his new club into a healthy play-off position. Aaron’s love affair with the Bantams continues, his form and goals more than justifying his wage packet. Mission accomplished…
Oh, Aaron. It could have been all so different.
Unusual that much of the pre-match build-up had revolved around a player who wouldn’t be playing for either team. Even more unusual to potentially have a player coaching the club that he’s on loan at against the club who are still paying the lion’s share of his not inconsiderable wages. Still, Aaron did the honourable thing as far as this match was concerned and chose to take a back seat. Showing us the proper respect, I would say.
City’s starting line-up saw three changes to the team which lost to Swindon Town, midweek. Jason Kennedy came in for the suspended Gary Liddle; a fit-again Andrew Davies came in for Gary Mackenzie (Mackenzie not even making the bench) and a surprise start for Alan Sheehan over James Meredith.
It was pleasing to see both James Hanson and Filipe Morais warming up with the team pre-match, meaning that a welcome return for both is genuinely imminent. No doubt both will be raring to go for the Reading game.
City have never won at London Road and, despite some chances, it is fair to say that, overall, none of this match suggested that it would be fifteenth time lucky today.
The one (only?) positive thing that I could say about the first half was that it was better than Tuesday night’s non-display. Jon Stead was effectively played as a lone striker with Billy Clarke tucking in behind him. I am afraid that they didn’t reap many dividends from this.
In the first five or so minutes, City did provide some threat, with decent crosses from both Oliver Burke and Andy Halliday having to be deal with by former City trialist, Ben Alnwick, in the Peterborough goal. Peterborough certainly looked looked like a team which might struggle to cope with a good amount of attacking pressure.
Peterborough had the earliest clear cut chance with a header from a corner which Gabriell Zakuani should have buried.
City came close a few minutes later with a shot from Burke curling past the top left hand corner of the Peterborough goal.
City were let off the hook fairly soon after when a very poor clearance from Jordan Pickford (who didn’t have one of his best days as far as distribution goes) could only reach a Peterborough player in the centre circle but thankfully Vassell failed to capitalise on the opportunity presented to him.
The first half did somewhat fizzle out after a reasonably lively opening. City had a chance from a Sheehan shot and Peterborough also had their moments. Some Peterborough fans were calling for a penalty when Rory McArdle challenged a prostrate Luke James on the byline but the referee correctly gave a drop-ball.
In truth, the first half was a fairly poor match between two seemingly poor teams. Half time was livened up by the odd site of a number of stewards carrying a skip onto the pitch. Any concerns that this might have been a sneaky way to get Aaron Mclean to secretly provide tactical advice to the Peterborough team (a la Mourinho and the laundry basket) were soon dispelled when this transpired to be a “chip the ball into the skip” competition.
The second half was greeted by the embarrassing spectacle of Peterborough playing piped crowd noise to welcome the team back. Really?
However, it wasn’t too long before actual Peterborough fans were making real noise. Andrew Davies was harshly penalised for holding James on the right-hand side. Jon Taylor took the free-kick. Pickford came. Pickford saw. Pickford didn’t conquer. In the general melee, there was no Posh pause and Peterborough managed to put the ball in. The goal was credited to Zakuani but post-match reports suggested that it took a touch off Stephen Darby. Who got the final touch doesn’t matter though – one nil to the Posh.
City still laboured to create much up front. Stead and Clarke were struggling to get any change out of Peterborough’s tall defenders. Midfield were also poor, with Kennedy being far from an adequate replacement for Liddle. Kennedy almost won nothing in the air all afternoon and his backwards and sideways passing (I presume that he must have special boots which don’t allow forward passing) did little to help the cause. It is to be hoped that Chris Routis might be given a chance in this role on Tuesday night against Crawley.
The ineffectual Francois Zoko was brought on just after the hour mark for Oliver Burke, presumably the hope being that if Andy Gray could score here last year, Zoko could manage it this year. Burke had a reasonable (but not spectacular) game, starting off okay but, like the rest of the team, fading a little as the game went on.
Zoko created one moment of mild excitement, twisting and turning to run into the box, but (surprise, surprise) then lost the ball running into their defender.
A Davies header from a Mark Yeates cross was dealt with easily by Alnwick and Halliday volleyed over after Stead forced an error from the keeper. Better but you still sensed the day was going to end in frustration.
And so it transpired – Billy Knott was penalised for handball in the box (difficult to see from where we were sitting) and Peterborough made it 2-0.
City still had time for two chances which should really have been buried. Alnwick, under pressure from Stead, could only punch the ball into the path of Billy Clarke. Clarke summed up City’s afternoon by making a complete hash of the shot. Billy Knott fared little better a minute or two later, his shot at least reaching the keeper.
So, one point from the last nine? Given how close the league is, there is no need to be pressing the panic button yet (any post match “Parky must go” calls presumably from those who have been following us since the Chelsea game) but we have blown a glorious opportunity over the past few games to cement our play off position. Perhaps minds are on next Saturday’s game but the players do need to realise that come next week, the cup dream could be over and we surely don’t want to fade away in the league.
28 February 2015, 16:55, London Road: Aaron Mclean cannot help but smile as he leaves his place in the stand, being congratulated by those around him. Aaron’s love affair with Peterborough continues, his coaching having helped see off his current paymasters and propelled Peterborough to within one point of the Bantams. Yes, it could have been oh so different but Aaron will take this. Mission accomplished.
City: Pickford, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Sheehan, Burke (Zoko 66), Kennedy (Yeates 76), Knott, Halliday (McBurnie 90), Clarke, Stead
Not used: Williams, Meredith, Routis, Dolan, McBurnie
Categories: Match Reviews