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Blues Host Posh in First of Two Big Home Games
Friday, 22nd Jan 2021 13:50

Town host Peterborough United on Saturday in the first of two big back-to-back home games looking to finally end their wait for a victory over a side in League One’s upper reaches.

The eighth-placed Blues’ only win over anyone currently in the top nine of the division was over Crewe Alexandra prior to the nine-game unbeaten run which has elevated the Railwayman up to seventh.

Their games against the other teams above them, from the top, Hull City, Portsmouth, Doncaster and Charlton, as well as the away fixture at ninth-placed Sunderland, all having ended in defeat.

Last season Town similarly struggled against teams in the top half of the table, beating only Fleetwood and Gillingham, both 1-0 away, of the 10 sides who finished above them in the points-per-game settled division.

The Blues go into the Peterborough and Sunderland games having lost four of their last five at home, including the 3-0 loss to Hull and the 2-0 defeat to Charlton.

Given that context, the games against Posh, who Town are yet to face this season with the visit to London Road having been postponed just before Christmas due to a positive Covid-19 test at the Cambridgeshire club, and Black Cats appear to have great significance.

Assistant manager Stuart Taylor knows they’re potentially huge matches for the Blues against tough opposition.

“We want to win every game that we go and take part in. Two big games coming up,” he said.

“You look at Peterborough who have recruited extremely well in their previous transfer windows and that’s been rewarded by interest from bigger clubs coming in for their players. So they’ve done things well in that sense.

“A very attacking side, we know what we’re up against, we know how we have to go and deal with it, but again it’s how we impose ourselves on the opposition and we certainly know weaknesses in their side that we need to go and highlight.

“Sunderland again is going to be a little bit different. They’ve got a new manager in [Lee Johnson] who has a totally different playing style from the previous manager [Phil Parkinson].

“So it gives us a different angle from what we did when we went and played them up there.

“Two big games, two teams who should be going for promotion, so it’s nice to go and challenge against that and hopefully we can go and get the three points against each of them.”

Taylor says he anticipates Posh, currently fifth, being in the top-six shake-up come May.

“I definitely do, yes,” he reflected. “I think they are a very good side. I went to go and see them the other night again against Charlton and they went 1-0 down and they did very well to get themselves back in the game and go and win [2-1 at London Road].

“They’ve got very good attacking options and they’re a good side, there’s no doubt about that. But we have confidence in what we do and how we go about things, and we’ll go into the game confident.”

Taylor says Posh have impressive attacking options, among them Sammie Szmodics, who netted both goals against the Addicks having ended a 16-game dry spell with another brace in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the MK Dons, also at home.

“They’ve got quality forward players,” the Scot said. “They brought Szmodics in after a successful loan spell [from Bristol City] last year and they brought him back in permanently this season.

“They’ve recruited very well, there’s interest in [Siriki] Dembele from Crystal Palace. They just sold their striker from last season [Ivan Toney to Brentford for £5 million rising to £10 million], they’ve got another one in this season [Jonson Clarke-Harris from Bristol Rovers], so recruitment is very, very good there.

“But as much as they’ve got that quality, we’ve got quality in our side and it’s about being confident and being positive when we’re playing and knowing how to go and hurt them. They've obviously got their weaknesses which we’re going to go and highlight.”

Asked about that record against sides towards the top of the division, Taylor said: “We’d always like to go and win every single game, there’s not a game we’ve gone into where we’ve said we’ll sit and take a draw, just hold tight and see if we can hit them on the break, we’ve not done that before.

“We don’t go into the game any different, we go in with confidence, it’s how we impose ourselves on them and we’ve got two big games coming up, they are all big games.

“The game after that [Crewe away] is big as well so we deal with the next one in front of us which is tomorrow and it’s going to be a really difficult tie.”

Taylor insists that the Blues are very much in the promotion hunt but knows they need to push on in the games ahead.

“Of course we’re in the hunt, we’re only six points off second place, we’ve got games in hand.

“There’s a long, long way to go. As I say, we’ve more than half a season still to go.

“It’s going to be a season where teams are beating each other, there’s going to be a yo-yo where teams are up and down and you can jump three places with just winning one game.

“It’s an incredible season in that sense. We’re still in and about it, we’re still positive, we’re still confident and, yes, if you think we’re going to go and win every single game from now to the end of the season, I hope we do, but I don’t think any team is going to be able to go and do that this season with the way things are going.”

Town returned to winning ways at Burton last week when they won 1-0 with the clean sheet and defensive qualities shown the main highlights and Taylor wants more of the same on Saturday.

“One hundred per cent it needs to continue,” he said. “We spoke about it a lot, we were confident the players would give us that reaction and they did it last week.

“Again, it was never a pretty game, we never once turned around and said that it was, we asked for a professional performance, a solid performance and they gave us to it.

“We asked for the hard work ethic back and they gave us that as well. It was great to come away with three points, it was great to come away with the clean sheet and we look to build on that and continue that.”

Town boss Paul Lambert is likely to stick with Tomas Holy, who was recalled against the Brewers, in goal with the back four again probably, from the right, skipper Luke Chambers, Toto Nsiala, Mark McGuinness and Stephen Ward.

Lambert has options in his midfield with players having come back from injury and the loan additions of Luke Thomas and Josh Harrop in midweek.

Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes will probably continue in the midfield trio with Harrop perhaps replacing Teddy Bishop in the more advanced role. However, with another big game Tuesday, Lambert may opt to leave the Preston man on the bench and start him against Sunderland.

Up front, James Norwood probably won’t be risked from the start having felt a twinge in his hamstring last weekend, while Kayden Jackson is a doubt due to the thigh and hip injury which saw him miss training earlier in the week.

If the former Accrington man is fit, Lambert will have to choose between him and Aaron Drinan, who was very unfortunate not to net his first Town goal at Burton last week. Otherwise, the Irish youngster will get the nod.

In the wide roles, Luke Thomas would appear likely to make his debut on the right with Gwion Edwards on the left.

Peterborough, two places and four points ahead of the Blues, are in a confident frame of mind having gone seven games without a defeat in all competitions, five in the league, winning their last three, two in League One and one in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Manager Darren Ferguson wants their away form - won four, drawn two, lost five - to be improve to the level of their home form - won eight, drawn one, lost one.

“We’re in a good place right now,” manager Ferguson told the Peterborough Telegraph. “The players were buoyant in the dressing room after beating Charlton on Tuesday night and that’s a feeling they need to remember and to repeat.

“We have good momentum, we are in excellent form at home and the players’ standards have been high in matches and during training since the turn of the year, but we now need to take this promotion bid to the next level and that means we need to start winning away from home.

“This is not the time to ease up. This is the time to put our foot down and use the momentum we have.

“Obviously it’s a tough game for us tomorrow, but it’s a game to look forward to. Ipswich is a lovely club.

“It’s a great stadium and the pitch is good. They have an experienced manager, they have good players back from injury and they have signed a couple of good attacking players this week.

“We will be facing a stronger Ipswich side than the one we would have faced at our place in December so it will be a very hard fixture.

“I don’t change though. I know if we are at it we are a very tough side to beat in League One.”

Historically, Posh have the upper hand, winning six times (three in the league), five matches having ended in draws (four) and the Blues having been victorious on three occasions including last season’s on-penalties win in the Trophy (once in the league).

Town are without a victory in their last five against Peterborough, who have become something of a bogey side in recent years, and have won only one in the last 11, a 3-2 home success under Paul Jewell’s management in March 2012, the Blues’ only win against Peterborough at Portman Road.

In February last year, Town dropped to fourth in League One after a disastrous 4-1 home defeat to Posh.

The now-departed Toney netted a penalty on 23, Szmodics made it 2-0 10 minutes later after dispossessing keeper Will Norris, then in the second half Dembele and Szmodics again scored on 50 and 74 to secure Posh their first ever league win at Portman Road and their first in all competitions since January 1960.

Sub Norwood netted a 79th minute consolation from the penalty spot for the Blues.

In December 2019, Barry Cotter celebrated his 21st birthday by netting the decisive penalty as the Blues beat Peterborough 6-5 from the spot after a 1-1 draw at London Road in the second round of the Trophy.

Idris El Mizouni’s first senior goal saw Town into the lead in the 23rd minute but Ricky-Jade Jones levelled for Peterborough 10 minutes later.

Town and Posh had faced one another in League One at London Road four months earlier when skipper Chambers headed an injury-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Norwood gave the Blues the lead in the fourth minute but Posh levelled through Toney, then went in front via Eisa.

Norwood saw a penalty saved and Town looked set for defeat until Chambers’s last-gasp leveller.

Blues winger Edwards joined Town from Posh for £700,000 in the summer of 2018. In two years at London Road the Welshman made 62 starts and 12 sub appearances, scoring 16 times.

Town striker Jackson underwent a medical at London Road in the summer of 2018, Posh having agreed a fee with Accrington before the frontman ultimately opted to join the Blues.

Town’s academy head of player and coaching development Bryan Klug was a player with Peterborough between 1984 and 1985.

The Blues spoke to Posh keeper Christy Pym prior to signing Holy in the summer of 2019, with the former England U20 international subsequently moving to London Road from hometown club Exeter.

Saturday’s referee is Antony Coggins from Bicester, who has shown 38 yellow cards and two red in 13 games so far this season.

Coggins’s last Town game was the 1-0 home victory over Gillingham in October in which he booked Bishop, Dozzell and one visitor.

Prior to that he was the man in the middle for the 1-0 defeat at Rotherham in January last year in which he booked Woolfenden, Huws and one Miller.

He was also in charge of the 2-1 home victory over AFC Wimbledon in August of the previous year in which he cautioned Janoi Donacien and three of the visitors.

Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Ward, Kenlock, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Dozzell, Downes, Nolan, Harrop, Judge, Huws, Bishop, Lankester, Thomas, Bennetts, Sears, Edwards, Norwood, Jackson, Drinan.

Photo: Matchday Images

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warksonwater added 14:22 - Jan 22
Come on lads, go get 'em. Let that 4-1 humiliation be a spur to go out and put that right. These winless runs (against Posh and other top teams) have got to end sometime. Six points from the next two will see us back in the top six and even in contention for automatic, that's how tight things are (though personally I'd be content with four points!)

Roo added 14:41 - Jan 22
With Norwood, Jackson doubtful and the less effective Hawkins injured we desperately need a couple of strikers in as Drinan is just not good enough. Hopefully we “may” have some supply with the two new lads and returning players. Offset the salary by getting shot of a couple of midfielders.... the season is riding on it as failure to address will I am afraid lead to abject failure.

TJS added 15:12 - Jan 22
No more excuses - 4 points MINIMUM

dirtydingusmagee added 15:13 - Jan 22
a tonkin coming up and more lame ducks having a rest .

MrJase_79 added 15:17 - Jan 22
I hope more than anything we get results, but calling it now, tomorrow we lose 0-3 and against Sunderland I reckon we lose 0-1.

oldelsworthyfan added 15:32 - Jan 22
Looks as if we should play Luke as a striker as none of the rest are fit enough!

MonkeyAlan added 15:40 - Jan 22
Where is Lambert? Evans has a muppet, so Lambert has to have one to? 4-0 thumping at the very least tomorrow. Our players just arnt interested. They take their money and run to the treatment table. Something is badly wrong at this club.

chepstowblue added 15:47 - Jan 22
I'd be astonished if we get four pts. Hell I'd be astonished if we get one point. The disturbing way that we sit off teams,fail to get a tackle in or stop crosses leads me think that its damage limitation tomorrow. Sunderland maybe gives us an opportunity to get a point. They certainly arent scary. But to take advantage of that we need to be something other than appalling, and that happens all too infrequently!

ringwoodblue added 15:49 - Jan 22
With no fit strikers except Drinan there is no threat up front so our goals are going to have to come from midfield again. Let’s hope the two new lads get the nod with Edwards, Bish and Doz.

We need at least 4 points from the next two games if we are not to lose touch with the top 6.

therein61 added 16:15 - Jan 22
No mention of big clubs he's played for(which he hasn't) otherwise it's a Lambert script, i hope the new guys with their forward intentions get a look in but they have probably had those ridiculous thoughts drummed out them already, for heavens sake so called management/coaching team just take the game to the opposition for a flippin change(which they won't expect) if we lose at least we've had a go at putting a smile on our long suffering faces!!

Skip73 added 16:35 - Jan 22
How can there be only one fit striker at the club AGAIN. A complete shambles from top to bottom.

BettyBlue added 16:56 - Jan 22
Wonder when Lambert will show his face again?

Could be a long wait with tough games ahead....

heathen66 added 17:01 - Jan 22
Why is Simpson not in the squad if we have injuries with strikers.
I have been impressed with him when I have seen him play.
He is young, raw and enthusiastic !!!

rfretwell added 17:22 - Jan 22
and guess what Heathen66 he injured last time I heard about him. Any progress reports on Simpson anyone?

Bert added 17:56 - Jan 22
Until the news about Norwood and Jackson I was feeling a bit more positive with two decent loan signings and ones with attitude. So much for those who say nobody wants to come here. Anyway, it will be a rollercoaster of emotions tomorrow. We can demand goals but without strikers it is going to be tough. Let’s hope we can arrest this decline. I notice that MonkeyAllan hates Lambert when he speaks but derides the fact that Taylor steps in and actually speaks quite well. No pleasing people who lack balance. COYB.

Chris_Knights added 18:42 - Jan 22
Sorry Town fans but we will lose both games, be outplayed in both and finish the season way aside the play offs..... I’m not gonna criticise any positive town fan and I really wish I could be.... but our track record against the top teams in the division is pitiful

Top teams in the division ??? I remember the days we ruled Europe and now we’re struggling to be in the top three in East Anglia!!! When in the name of God will this end ??

norfolkbluey added 19:25 - Jan 22
How as a club can we have fallen so far down to be worried about other clubs in this league.
Play the two new players tomorrow up front. They've been on the training ground this week so get them on asap. Don't wait until we are two down and scraping to reduce the loss. Positive thinking COYB

istanblue added 21:35 - Jan 22
Guarantee we won't win either of them.

RobsonWark added 22:17 - Jan 22
Stuart Taylor says “A very attacking side, we know what we’re up against, we know how we have to go and deal with it, but again it’s how we impose ourselves on the opposition and we certainly know weaknesses in their side that we need to go and highlight."

We have NO chance! Every team in this league knows our weakness is our RIGHT BACK!!

RobsonWark added 22:26 - Jan 22
Skip73 added 16:35 - Jan 22
"How can there be only one fit striker at the club AGAIN. A complete shambles from top to bottom."

You should know better than to ask silly questions like that. Don't you know that our players can't cope with more than one game a month - that's why Lambert makes so many changes. They need there recovery time. Can you imaging any of them playing in the 1981 team. They would be taking Sir Bobby to court and prosecuting him for asking them to play every week let alone twice a week!!! The poor souls they need their rests and their pay checks.

shakytown added 22:52 - Jan 22
The reason we only have 1 fit striker in the club is our completely incompetent managers awful tactics. When you play only one up front against 4 6 foot puls defenders its obvious whats going to happen. Leave now please Lambert if you have even one shred off integrity in you.

WonTheCupin78 added 23:53 - Jan 22
Why isn't Folami being recalled given our present striker predicament?

itk92 added 23:53 - Jan 22
Drinans up front on his own tomorrow and watch us get picked apart pressing there full backs.


itk92 added 00:19 - Jan 23
Oh yeah and Harrop has covid

Vanisleblue2 added 01:31 - Jan 23
We’ve got most of our squad back so we’ll be in a really good place.
Next day: our three experienced strikers are all injured.
Get rid of all of the players that can’t play more than 10 games a season.
It’s pathetic

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