Peterborough Utd 1-2 Swindon Town: A little bit of a different animal from last season
Swindon Town now move to within one point of leaders Bristol City following a third win in succession, this time at London Road, Peterborough. Writes Scott Keith.
Moving on in life can be an important skill – a time to let go of the past and the things that can make you angry and hold you back. Sometimes even those that bring you joy must be put to one side. One team involved in a highly combustible West Country derby seven days ago managed that no problem. The other lost to Preston.
Mark Cooper’s plans to start the team that so memorably saw off Bristol City were ruined by what turned out to be a shoulder injury to Michael Smith. It left Andy Williams and Jon Obika together up front, with both strikers on target in this largely impressive away win.
Town settled into their passing groove quickly, pushing Raphael Rossi Branco and Jordan Turnbull as far forward and wide as they dare, but they had one early scare which required a smart interception, as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, lively in the first half, but anonymous in the second, aimed a low cross at returning Posh cult hero Aaron McLean.
Ben Gladwin had Town’s first real chance, his long range shot hitting the right hand post as keeper Ben Alnwick reacted like some oddly beached sea creature. He would get better, but he’d see his side concede plenty of possession. Swindon have solved the problem evident in the Rochdale defeat of what to do when teams backed off and marked man for man when Wes Foderingham had the ball at his feet. That consisted of getting Branco even further forward and the Town keeper hitting him with diagonal balls that would have brought a broad grin to Egil Olsen’s face.
Obika caught the eye early, as he kept the ball moving with his back to goal with neat one or two touch play. After Foderingham had needed to make a full stretch dive to tip Mendez-Laing’s shot round the post and there were a couple of customary Branco scary moments, Swindon cut open the Posh defence as they’d threatened to do, with Obika having miscued earlier in a good position.
Harry Toffolo, now looking the most comfortable of wing backs, pulled the ball back into the box, and it was met with one of those increasingly regular placed finishes by Andy Williams, who stroked the ball in from around 10 yards off the inside of the post. Williams hobbled off to the corner flag to celebrate Eto’o style, perhaps acknowledging his veteran age of 28.
Nathan Byrne produced some play that appeared to have most of the Posh back line mesmerised with his continual movement and step overs. He also had one shot tipped away by the keeper and a second blocked.
So it was 1-0 at half-time with a feeling of control, and a good measure of possession.
Within 90 seconds of the re-start, it was 2-0. Ben Gladwin’s right wing free kick was curled into the box with vicious pace and intent, and it didn’t require too much work from Obika to head the ball in, as the delivery was so good. This felt like one of the forward’s more complete performances of his second spell.
From then, in what seemed like a conscious change, but from Mark Cooper’s comments apparently wasn’t, Town seemed to go into game control mode. They slowed things down, brought on Luongo and Kasim, and were intent on keeping the ball and running down the clock. It all got a bit scrappy, and even the Posh, berated by their own Chairman later on Twitter for over-conservative tactics, created some meaningful moments.
Michael Bostwick’s cross-shot deflected wildly off Jordan Turnbull and mercifully past the post. Then Joe Newell was involved as the Posh made a rare foray round the back of the Town defence. His pull back was just missed by Foderingham, who tried to block it with an outstretched foot, and substitute forward Conor Washington kindly thumped the ball onto the crossbar from eight yards out.
Finally, just when the game looked seen out, Newell ploughed through the middle of a Town midfield and backline that assumed job was done, and scored with a low shot from the edge of the box.
The final seconds did pass without further incident, and while the Posh did push in the last 15 minutes, it more felt like Swindon’s gift that truly their own efforts. While they did have attacking intent, the departures of Britt Assombalonga, Lee Tomlin and captain Tommy Rowe over the past year have made them a little bit of a different animal from last season.
There are signs that Swindon are too, but for much better reasons.