Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

How good was that? - The Mighty vs Peterborough Utd

Shirtless Jerry in a past life. 

When we were a bit shit (most recently about 2 weeks ago...) I'd told myself this season didn't matter. I'd told myself it was a building process and that any fool could see that putting together a side that would seriously challenge the top of the table would take two years. You can't (so my thought process went) dismantle a reasonably competent team and expect to rebuild it in one go. Perhaps, I was wrong... maybe blind optimism was the way to go because, on the back of some superb football in the last 135 minutes, tonight we can put ourselves right amongst it. We can go into the playoff spots with games still in hand. We can put ourselves in as good position at this time of year as we've been in since the ill fated 95/96 season, in control of our own destiny, with only our own results to worry about. 

There's injuries galore and we'll cover how Critch has dealt with that in a moment - first, lets take a peek at the whiteboard inside the managers coach's office at the modular building* at Squire's Gate

*bigger, newer portakabin than the old portakabin that mustn't be referred to as a portakabin because that wouldn't sound as cool and fancy as 'modular building' 

Fig 1: A tactical masterclass that can't fail as long as Big Gaz remembers the nudey playing cards

You've become accustomed to a higher class of graphic with MCLF and the picture below won't disappoint

Fig 2: The squad, as expressed by grey circles

The squad is stretched so thinly that spinning the selection roulette wheel is pointless.Rumours that Sullay is going round whistling a jazzy show tune of his own composition called 'Everything's Better With Elliot By Your Side' can neither be confirmed nor denied but we do know for a fact that Gabriel comes in at right back whilst Turton plays at centre back. I'm slightly anxious at that. In fact, I'm feeling distinctly queezy at the thought. In midfield, I did wonder if Ethan Robson might get a chance, but it's probably logical that Ward comes inside and Demi returns to the right hand side, a place I really thought he couldn't play, but where he performed really well against Burton. 

I'm hoping that players like him, Sullay, Embleton and Jerry make it unnecessary to defend that much as we're on what must be about the 7th choice centre back pairing against what is one of the most free scoring teams in the division. Attack is defence... 

Fig 3: An on the pitch tactical masterclass that can't fail (provided the pre match masterclass hasn't failed because Big Gaz forgot the nudey playing cards)

What else is their to say? Wish we were there, what a night it would be, weird year, blah, blah, blah. You know the score. This is a big one... 


Sullay picks it up, drives down the line, loses it, then challenges hard, wins the ball, heads straight for goal but squares it to Jerry just as a challenge looks about to strike him. If truth be told, it's a very quick thinking pass, but maybe hit a touch hard, Jerry controls though, and from 20 yards, strikes it with the precision of a butcher jointing a piece of meat with a razor sharp cleaver, skimming low into the corner past the despairing dive of the keeper. I'm off the couch, running into the other room, dancing and screaming, met by looks of bemusement from those in the house unaware of the import of what has just happened. That doesn't happen at the ground. 

Then an absolute piece of comedy. We belt it long, Demi chases it and the keeper runs out the box and catches the ball. He just catches it and steps back inside the box as if innocently acting normal will fool everyone. It doesn't. Garbutt drives the free kick low and hard but it's blocked easily enough. 

Posh haven't had much, one long ball that Maxwell cuts out really well and an awkward moment where Demi leaves a clearance to Dougall who leaves the clearance to Demi but fortunately Grant Ward is on hand to belt it away. 

Mitchell tumbles inside the D chasing a ball over the top from Thorniley. Sullay stands over it and I really fancy his chances, he's just exuding purpose in this opening. Mitchell takes it instead and puts it miles over. Then Sullay lays off to Dougall, who sprays a long pass. Yates picks it up, finds the overlapping Garbutt who gives it him back. It's a beautiful move, but despite Jerry wriggling and writhing and working a shooting chance, the finish is ugly and wide. 

We cut Peterborough open again, Thorniley intercepts really well and we work it beautifully, quick first time passing up the pitch, Embleton running hard at the edge of the box, looking for all the world like he's going to fizz a shot in, but instead sliding a pass for Sullay, he's in on goal, but as he goes for the strike, his feet go from under him. Sullay beats the turf. Life isn't fair sometimes. 

Posh have started poorly but there's a lurking feeling that they can't stay this poor for the rest of the game. You also have to wonder if we can keep up the rate of pressing. We're causing them no end of problems, keeping them penned in and causing mistakes. Sullay has his legs taken on the edge of the box leading to a booking. The free kick leads to a long range effort from Demi that somehow goes straight through loads of bodies and is taken comfortably, but a deflection would have caused mayhem. 

Finally, Posh show. A little chipped free kick, a nod down from their massive number 5 and a shot in loads of space on the turn by Szmodics that for a second seems to be heading for the top corner but actually flashes wide. If he'd have realised the space he had, they'd probably have been level by now. A minute later, they come down the left and a low ball isn't cut out, falling eventually to Dembele who hits a crisp effort that's charged down brilliantly by Turton, throwing himself in the way with perfect timing. 

We work a few half openings. Sullay and Dougall work it well out of a tight space and find Yates, Sullay bursts forward beyond him but is eased out of the path of Yates' through ball. There's a nice switch of play by Embleton to start a good move that doesn't quite see the right pass at the end, then an equally nice crossfield ball from Thorniley that the terrier-like Mitchell wins in the air, then races clear from his own header, he ghosts through but his pull back is too cute and the chance is lost. Similar frustration on the other flank as Sullay leaves his man for dead with piece of skill to die for, a little shimmy from the absolute top draw, shifting his weight, slowing then exploding past the defender on the other foot. On into the box he goes but his cross strikes a defender and the moment is gone. 

Posh have a corner that creates all kind of horrors. Maxwell gets blocked as he comes for the ball, Dougall half clears, Embleton picks it up and aims to complete the clearance but instead, stands on the ball and falls over, leaving it to be chipped back in where at last someone (maybe Ward) leathers it clear... 

Then just before half time, it all goes wrong. Thorniley makes a hash of a long ball, seemingly getting caught between heading and kicking and doing neither effectively. The ball just hits him and rolls off him. Posh take possession, working it wide left then finding a cross right across the box where Ward finishes quite superbly, taking it on the bounce, pivoting and slamming it an inch inside of Maxwell's far post. A very good finish, but a sickening goal.  


It's an absolutely horrible goal to concede, deep in injury time and stemming from a mistake by a player who had had an otherwise excellent game. We've played really well but our fragility is apparent. We can't afford anyone's heads to go as we just don't have the replacements and we certainly can't afford another injury, something that looked worryingly possible when Yates limped about a bit for a minute or so after getting all tangled up with his man. 

Posh haven't so much grown into this game as got a bit less shit as the match went on and the fear is, we'll fade as they get stronger. I watched Yates for a minute or so in the first half. I don't understand how he can run like he does, week after week after week, but still he does. That's been the secret of our recent success - we've put 4 halves together in a row where we've created chances and been the better side (this one definitely included) but it's come from pressing, harrying, energy and non stop fight and with Antwi, Holmes and Apter, plus the Viking and Robson who've barely played in months on the bench, we really lack the sort of like for like injections of energy you'd think we need. 

Fuck it, stop worrying - come on Pool, lets go again. 


I'm still feeling sorry for Jordan Thorniley as the half resumes and the first thing we see is him getting drenched by the sprinklers. Pool start well, high pressing, not bringing a clear chance but plenty of Posh mistakes and pressure around the edge of the box. The reward comes when Embleton slides a lovely through ball from halfway inside their half, putting Yates into space. His shot is blocked, looping away for a corner. Garbutt puts it in, the keeper comes but it break, the keeper races out looking to smother it but Thorniley is sharp, getting their first, nicking it away from the now stranded goalie and cracking it at goal where it strikes an arm and elicits a whistle from the ref. Jerry shoves the ball up his shirt and waits for the protests to clear. He puts it down and executes the penalty as calmly as a bloke walking back to the bar to leave his empty pint glass. Low, to the keepers left. The lad is a sniper. 

It's not one way traffic though. We make a few mistakes. Sullay is caught in possession forcing Ward to concede a free kick that we defend well. Dougall dithers on the ball and is robbed but Posh can't work Maxwell, over complicating it instead of taking a chance to get an effort in. 

Then, it gets even better, Embleton and Mitchell combine superbly to create a corner on the right. It's taken short and as Posh don't close down at all, Garbutt has an easy job to work himself into a shooting position. Being in position and taking advantage of it are two different things though and the curling shot from the right is perfect, just glancing off a defenders head before nestling into the top corner, the deflection giving the keeper no chance. Magnificent. 

The game continues as before, Pool putting in an unbelievable shift to contain Peterborough. They knock it about a bit, but are limited to speculative crosses that Maxwell handles beautifully. We keep playing and clearly possession is everything, knocking it about, trying to assert as much control as we can. Still shirtless Jerry hurtles around. He's not human. He's like something from a sci-fi film about a man who gets bionic powers after an encounter with some kind of glowing goo. 

Posh manage a scuffed effort as Clarke-Harris chests down a free kick but can't strike it cleanly. Sullay nearly thread Yates in at the other end, his ball bisecting 3 players but cut out by a 4th. Posh now have 4 subs on and we're still on our starting (and just about only) 11. We're making a few mistakes, we're frankly (and understandably) looking tired, but there's really very little choice about what we do about it. Jerry chases a lost cause. This lad deserves an MBE, the keys to the tower, a place in the hall of fame. I fucking love him. 

Embleton might not quite be at that level yet, but he's done really well again. He's just so key to linking things. He's got the mind of a flair player, but the body of someone who can mix it in league one. He gets a big arm round his shoulder from Critch when replaced by Ethan Robson. 

Then, two shouts for a penalty for Posh, the second one in particular looks a tad suspicious when Turton stops defending to protest his innocence and only resumes playing when he realises the referee hasn't penalised him for either a push or the ball hitting his arm, both of which look possible. I don't know either way, but Turton's reaction did look a bit suspect to me... Garbutt gets clattered then has a massive radge, not at the player who has crunched into him, but at Maxwell for giving him the ball. I suppose if you are as fragile as fragile (but fucking brilliant) Luke is, you don't want to get crunched if you don't need to. Garbutt is soon calm, but Darren Ferguson has been in full on rage mode all half and his mood is not improved by a Posh goal being ruled offside. 

Pool are pushing up, Posh are trying to hit the heart of the box but not really exerting the sort of pressure you'd expect from a side of their apparent quality.  

A flick on from Clarke Harris, puts Isa through, but he shanks it into the stand. A cross from wide, Clarke Harris levers Thorniley out of it and nods down, but it's comfortably wide... Somehow we get 6 minutes of injury time. They boom it up field, we fanny about with it in a way that must annoy the fuck out of the opposition and eventually the whistle goes. 


Again. What a game. What a performance. To play like that is tremendous, but to play like that on the absolute bones of the arse of the squad is beyond tremendous. Again, it's been such a team effort. Shirtless Jerry will rightly get the plaudits for two goals but no one has played badly. I was terrified of Turton at centre half, especially given the size and ability of their forward line but he's barely put a foot wrong. Grant Ward I thought was outstanding, purring in midfield but getting his foot in when needed and just gliding miles and miles. What else can I say? The lot of them were fantastic. 

I really didn't think we had it in us to be this good. We've put five halves of superb football together in a row now. Inventive, effective, good to watch, full of effort, endeavour and frankly, brave performances from players who are second string squad men or playing out of position. 

Before the game, I was telling myself that if we get done, not to be too harsh, that things aren't easy, that there are excuses, or reasons why we might not be at our best but this team wasn't interested in that all. That was fucking superb.


Keep going and who knows where we'll end up. Sunderland to play twice. You never know... 


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