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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Peterborough playoff push looks unlikely

Grant McCann sacked after Wimbledon draw

Peterborough striker Jack Marriott scored twice in the win over Charlton
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Sky Bet League One

Peterborough 1 AFC Wimbledon 1
Maddison 79        Taylor 75

There is good news and bad news for Peterborough fans or those who have backed them to gain promotion this season.

First the good. They are only six points off sixth-placed Plymouth in Sky Bet League One having played two matches fewer.

The bad news is that on this evidence Posh don't appear good enough to get into the post-season mix and Grant McCann was sacked on Sunday.

The opening 45 minutes against AFC Wimbledon were horrendous, just a complete mess. For all that Peterborough improved after the break a draw felt a fair result even though the hosts won the shots-on-target count 8-2.

There was a disconnect between manager McCann and supporters - the quiet atmosphere was testament to the apathy towards the team - while confidence is clearly low within the side with few players wanting to take responsibility on the ball.

Peterborough, who have now gone seven games without a win, played with fear in the first half and looked like a side who did not know where their next victory was coming from.

No part of the team was functioning particularly well with McCann's formation difficult to work out. It was something resembling 4-1-2-3 with Anthony Grant in front of the defence, but was fellow midfielder Leo Da Silva Lopes supposed to be playing as a number ten or deeper?

He didn't seem to know and nor did I, while playmaker Chris Forrester was unable to get on the ball as Peterborough eventually went long to isolated striker Jack Marriott.

Was it Lopes's job to support Marriott or should the wingers Marcus Maddison and Danny Lloyd have played more narrowly? They were too wide in the system and all over the pitch it was individuals rather than a collective.

No player summed that up better than Maddison. Sometimes frustrating and sometimes magical, leftie Maddison was the only one in the first half who looked likely to break down Wimbledon with his jinking dribbles but his play almost feels separate from the team effort. 

McCann cut a frustrated figure on the touchline. Spitting, snarling and cursing every wasted pass, at one stage he looked up to the heavens for divine intervention but the answer to some of his problems were behind him on the bench rather than in the sky.

The boss would later call the first half "unacceptable" but he made the correct half-time substitutions with Omar Bogle replacing Grant (Steven Taylor also came on for the injured Ryan Tafazolli) and ditched his starting formation for a simple 4-4-2.

It worked with Posh looking the more likely winners after the break.

Danny Lloyd should have scored from a Maddison cross and the rebound fell to Forrester, whose looping header was cleared off the line, while Lopes hit a swerving shot just wide.

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However, against the run of play, Posh failed to deal with a long punt forward and Lyle Taylor put Wimbledon in front only for the hosts to quickly draw level with the move of the match.

Forrester started it with some lovely football, Marriott dropped deep to receive the pass and slipped in Maddison with a perfect through-ball and the winger made no mistake.

Posh pushed and Bogle forced a decent save from Wombles keeper George Long but they were unable to find a winner, increasing the pressure on Peterborough heading into Tuesday's visit of Walsall.

A new manager may make a difference but on this game alone others look better suited to finishing in the top six.

The opposition

Wimbledon are 18th but are only two points clear of the drop zone in a congested table and it is difficult to be confident about which four sides will be relegated.

However, Neal Ardley's men are organised enough to stay out of trouble. They were compact in a 4-2-3-1 formation and every player knew their job, which was not the case with Peterborough.

Central midfielders Liam Trotter and Jimmy Abdou give them a solid foundation, clever playmaker Harry Forrester pulls the strings and there is threat on the counter with Taylor, Andy Barcham and Joe Pigott.

Centre-back Adedeji Oshilaja appears to be the target at every set-piece so he could be one for the goalscoring shortlist. He has notched only once this season but that came from a corner earlier this month against Northampton.

Peterborough 4-1-2-3: Bond; Shephard (Morais 76), Tafazolli (Taylor 46), Baldwin, Freestone; Grant (Bogle 46); Forrester, Lopes; Lloyd, Marriott, Maddison. 

AFC Wimbledon 4-2-3-1: Long; Francomb, Oshilaja, Fuller, Meades; Abdou, Trotter; Taylor, Forester, Barcham (Kaja 72); Pigott (Parrett 72).

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No part of the team was functioning particularly well with McCann's formation difficult to work out
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