Merde. At half-time we really didn’t care that this was a dire spectacle being played out in awful conditions on a rutted surface with more mud than grass. Winning 1-0 you just wanted more of the same, ie no chances and little football. Instead we gifted them an equaliser and that really turned things, then compounded the error with a further mistake to go behind. And then it was Peterborough’s turn to run down the clock, which they managed quite comfortably as we were by then unclear how to stop scrapping and start playing football.
One look at the conditions was enough to confirm that this game would tell us next to nothing about our development, what combinations to start with etc. Suffice to say this was a night for Pratley and Pearce to be brought straight back, the former replacing the suspended Morgan, the latter enabling Gunter to return to right-back in a basic 4-4-2, with Bogle and Washington starting up front. The surprise on the bench was Harness named as the substitute keeper, Maynard-Brewer not available.
The first 10 minutes or so were pretty even, featuring a decent Maatsen strike over the bar, then we were ahead. A free-kick played in saw Pearce muscle his way past his marker, who obliged by taking a handful of his shirt. Only question for me was whether Pearce had committed the first foul, if not no doubt about the penalty. Washington stepped up and put it low past their keeper.
That enabled us to focus on not getting caught out, keep the game tight and scrappy, and win the individual battles. Pretty it wasn’t, competitive is certainly was, especially as the referee seemed to be trying to make allowances for the conditions. Some times he got it right, some times not (Pratley, no stranger to the odd foul or two, was taken out twice by bad and potentially dangerous challenges but no card was shown, while others ended up with a card for next to nothing). At the same time, with Millar and Smyth looking dangerous down the flanks and Bogle and Washington threatening, there was the possibility of adding to the lead.
There were free-kicks given away, one or two dangerous balls in from Peterborough and a moment late on when Smyth was first caught out of position but then recovered well to shepherd their guy away from goal. But the bottom line was we reached the break with Amos not having had a serious shot to save. More of the same in the second half would do.
Indeed, it was Peterborough who felt obliged to make the changes early in the second half as they looked to up the tempo. There was danger and a suspicion of Pearce holding a guy down to prevent him going clear, but nothing was given. And the game was to turn in a minute just after the hour. From a set piece the ball went to the far post, Pearce nodded back, and Gunter was in space inside their area. It wasn’t easy to beat a keeper and defender on the line with a ball with no pace on it and he headed over. While we were thinking about that one the ball was hit long, allowed to bounce, and suddenly Pearce and Oshilaja were both going for it. Almost inevitably their guy gets a touch past them both and the second forward is through on goal. He made no mistake.
That was the cue for our first changes, with the front two replaced by Aneke and Schwartz, then not long after Shinnie making a welcome return to the action, replacing Forster-Caskey. We were creating the odd decent position without really looking dangerous, but even then the thought was OK keep it going, we’ve made a mistake and let them back in but we’re still generally in control. Instead we were to slip up again, with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock. Shinnie apparently lost his footing (I thought he was fouled) and the ball was taken off him, played forward quickly and their guy was again in the clear. For the second time of asking he made no mistake.
That really was it as we never looked like getting back on level terms. Williams and Gilbey came on for Smyth and Millar but if anything we were more now to fall further behind, with their guy given his third opportunity, this time Amos saving well. Peterborough were able to see it out by a mix of time-wasting and doing the things that we were doing in the first half.
This one’s going to leave a bitter taste for some time to come. We’d done a job on them in the first half and for the first hour or so we were generally in control of a dreadful game. And then we made mistakes, which to be fair they capitalised on well. And we found no way back into the game as the changes made left us less cohesive, even if they were understandably given the leg-sapping conditions and the concerted effort put in. On balance of play, chances etc we deserved to take something from the game, but we weren’t robbed and in the final period of the game we were second-best.
Amos – 7/10. One good save, other work, no chance with the goals.
Gunter – 7/10. Put in a shift in an ugly game.
Pearce – 6/10. Think the blame for their first goal has to be shared equally between him and Oshilaja, was perhaps fortunate not to be penalised (with cards) for some desperate attempts to stop their guys, but did win the penalty.
Oshilaja – 6/10. Plenty of good stuff but still the goal plus a rash challenge that gave away a free kick on the edge of our area.
Maatsen – 6/10. A fellow Addick said after seeing a replay of their second goal that he gave up on chasing the guy. Have to look at that again. Otherwise good work again with Millar going forward.
Smyth – 6/10. Tough conditions for someone to play it on the ground but was a threat throughout, just a pity that he made one or two wrong choices when in good positions.
Forster-Caskey – 7/10. Competed hard in a game which gave no marks for pretty football.
Pratley – 7/10. To say that he was competitive would be an understatement. But highly instrumental in keeping Peterborough subdued for much of the game. If we were to have a man of the match I’d give it to him.
Millar – 7/10. Looked capable of being a match-winner, some excellent runs and kept possession well.
Washington – 7/10. Pretty effective, played well, more involved than in some other games.
Bogle – 6/10. Caused them problems without getting on the end of anything.
Aneke – 5/10. If you give the mark for impact on the game it’s fair for tonight, struggled to get into the game.
Schwartz – 5/10. The same really. Expect more from both of them going forward.
Shinnie – 5/10. Unfortunate as regards their second goal but it happened.
Williams – 5/10. Unable to make an impact in the final 15 minutes, hard time to come on as Peterborough were by then just spoiling.
Gilbey – 5/10. Much the same.