Half-Term Report

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Half-Term Report

Post by JohnC »

The Half-Term returns are in.
2020-21: P23 W 13 D 4 L 6 F 36 A 21 GD 15 Pts 43 PPG 1.87 Posn 3rd
2019-20: P23 W 10 D 6 L 7 F 43 A 32 GD 11 Pts 36 PPG 1.56 Posn 6th
2018-19: P23 W 11 D 8 L 4 F 41 A 29 GD 12 Pts 39 PPG 1.69 Posn 5th

More wins, fewer draws, fewer goals conceded: a guarantee of improvement, and a blueprint for success. Given that Toney and Eisa had provided twenty-eight goals at this point last season, a lower total of goals scored is unsurprising. Only four teams have scored more than we have, and only three teams have conceded fewer – fairly consistent with our third-place position.
It’s the first time for nearly two years that one has been able to point to a significant, across-the-board improvement. The most significant indicator is the reduction in goals conceded.

A slight concern is the comparison with our first quarter:
First P11 W8 D1 L 2 F 21 A 9 GD 12 Pts 25 PPG 2.27
Second P12 W5 D3 L4 F 15 A 12 GD 3 Pts 18 PPG 1.5

To be fair, maintaining that first-quarter pace over the whole season would have been difficult.
For the first eight games of the second quarter, we’d been averaging a point a game – relegation form.

The League Table
If all games in hand were won (up to the twenty-three game point), we’d be fourth, ahead of Hull, behind Doncaster and Accrington, yet looking down on Portsmouth, Sunderland and Ipswich. Lincoln, Doncaster, Accrington….none of these is showing signs of leaving the party early – shades of Fleetwood, Wycombe and Oxford last season.

Home and Away
There doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason to account for our strong home form over the past thirteen months: we’ve been winning with and without crowds, on good playing surfaces as well as the current quagmire.
Of the current top ten, we only have to visit two (Doncaster and Charlton) later in the season; conversely, we will play host to seven of those other nine teams.

The Breaks of the Game
So far, these have been going our way. It’s hard to think of an undeserved loss; the nearest claimant would be the defeat at Sunderland, where the questionable penalty only cost us a point.
Games where we might have been flattered by victory include those against Fleetwood, Hull and Ipswich. MK Dons were aggrieved that JC-H’s goal in the drawn away fixture was allowed to stand.
Opponents have contributed two goals to our cause (though I thought that JC-H should have been credited with the goal at Lincoln), helping to secure the draw at Lincoln and the win at Ipswich. The Dembele winner at Hull was as close as you can get to an own goal; this, together with the Lincoln penalty miss and the Ipswich own goal, helped us to garner seven points from three challenging away fixtures with the help of a huge deflection, a missed penalty and an own goal. We should expect to have to indulge in some frustrated gnashing of teeth at some point.

So far, so good. The Ward injection didn’t do much to secure his availability. On the other hand, the enforced break probably helped Thompson’s hamstring to heal. We’ve yet to see what we may have been missing from Jones.

Thirty-five disciplinary points leaves us seventh in the disciplinary table; about as good as we could reasonably expect, although without Thompson’s contributions, we’d probably be top. The three quick-fire red cards towards the end of 2018-19, and the suspensions for Toney and Dembele last season proved costly – perhaps decisive -- in our recent quests for a top-six position. So far, that hasn’t been the case this season. The L1 ever-present Kent and Beevers only have three yellow cards apiece this season; given the positions they play, that’s close to exemplary. By contrast, it was annoying to see Thompson pick up another avoidable booking against Bristol Rovers: he has seven yellow and one red card in seventeen appearances this season. JC-H has only been booked once.

Penalties haven’t proved too damaging to our cause: we’ve converted, directly or indirectly, four of the five we’ve been awarded, and the one missed at Ipswich didn’t cost us any points. JC-H has converted three and missed two penalty opportunities; I wonder if we have an alternative taker lined up. Lincoln’s miss is in the running for the ‘Turning Point of the Season’ award: if it goes in, we’re probably twelve points adrift of them, and not feeling very gruntled.
Two of the three penalties we’ve conceded (against Sunderland ,Lincoln and Charlton) have been converted, and I can’t recall us conceding an own goal – a welcome improvement on last season.

Feast or Famine
Dembele and Szmodics have both scored five L1 goals, but each has scored in only three games. Dembele doesn’t have a L1 goal in his last twelve appearances. Szmodics went sixteen L1 games without a goal. Only one of their ten goals – Dembele’s hugely deflected winner at Hull – has come away from home. In seventeen L1 games, neither Dembele nor Szmodics has scored. The sporadic nature of their goal-scoring has placed quite a burden on JC-H: so far he’s risen to the challenge. His thirteen goals at the half-way point compare favourably with Toney’s fifteen goals at the same stage last season. Eisa had thirteen L1 goals at this point.

Set-Pieces (at both ends)
Some people (the manager included) may be fretting unnecessarily over perceived shortcomings in these areas. We’ve managed a couple of goals from corners, and JC-H has shown he can be a threat at free kicks. I’d like to see a few more short corners played to Dembele.
It might not be a bad idea to put a defender on the back post at corners – scarcely an innovative idea, but one to which we seem averse. It might also be time to stop sending Beevers up for corners and similar set-pieces: in sixty-three appearances for us in all competitions, he’s yet to score; I’d rather save his legs and have him in position to help deal with any quick counter-attacks. Kent and Thompson have scored from corners.

Nathan Thompson
Thompson’s League One disciplinary record with us shows twelve yellow and two red cards in thirty-two appearances. With Brown and Hamilton not always convincing alongside Taylor, and with the availability of Mason and Edwards in defence, Thompson might find some productive playing time in midfield.

Character, Discipline, Determination, Professionalism
These are terms which have been applied to Posh teams too rarely in recent years, but they spring to mind more readily at present. ‘Game management’ seems to be a strong point: only at Sunderland, at MK and against Blackpool could we be accused of having let points slip away avoidably in the closing stages of games. Three penalties and no own goals conceded suggest a defensive solidity and confidence which was sadly lacking last season.

Unfounded Speculation
Unless he’s broken beyond repair, Eisa, the paragon of striking excellence whom management welcomed so effusively on his signing, may be called upon to make a significant contribution before season’s end. He matched Toney goal-for-goal in the first half of last season, so he’s proved that he can be productive at this level playing alongside another principal striker. Like JC-H this season, Eisa didn’t score in his first three L1 games last season. This season, he has ten L1 appearances, averaging eighteen minutes per game, and has yet to score. What’s the plan if/when the JC-H goal supply dwindles?

Joe Ward – if he manages to achieve the required level of fitness – will have an important role to play – especially if Eisa is pressed into service. His crossing ability on what passes for home turf should prove productive.

Brown will find himself a tactical substitute more often than a starter.

JC-H will see fewer minutes, either by design or through injury. He’s been heroic so far: on the field, a model professional. This quarter, he’s played all bar forty-two minutes: an average of eighty-eight minutes per game. He was substituted due to injury once, in the 78th minute. That means he’s been ‘rested’, twice, for a grand total of thirty minutes. In the first quarter of the season he played all bar 16 minutes. In total this season, JC-H has played in all twenty-three games, logging an average of eighty-seven minutes per game. He has one yellow card.
Only four of J-C-H’s thirteen goals have come in the second half of games, and he’s only scored once in the last twenty minutes (a 71st minute free kick at AFC Wimbledon). That’s not to say that he can’t pose a threat in the later stages of a game, as Charlton can testify, but maybe someone can connect these dots:
A striker who’s played almost every minute of every game;
Said striker’s late-game disappearance in goal-scoring terms;
A debilitating home playing surface;
Unprecedented fixture congestion;
The availability on the bench of a club record signing striker.

Scoring Goals
While our defence has looked increasingly resolute, I begin to wonder about our goal-scoring potential. Seven goals (one of them an own goal) in our last five games isn’t overwhelming.

In a Nutshell
Strong down the middle (Pym, Beevers, Kent, Taylor, JC-H), flaky around the edges.
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Post by bristleposh »

Having played against a second division sides reserves with three million pound strikers on the pitch as well as RJJ (looks like another YaYa, Kgosi, Ricardo- That’s not meant to be a racist comment, it just seems we tend to hype these young kids who turn out to be not as good as they’re made out to be), yet we still haven’t managed a goal in open play. That’s four games in a row where we have not broken down teams to score goals ourselves. My point about the playoffs is that if we are going to get in the playoffs (I very much doubt we’d win them at the moment) the EFL needs to stop the league before this Saturday on a PPG system otherwise we’ll miss out once again.
I don't judge people on race, religion, gender,
ability or size, I judge them on whether or not
they're a prat!
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