City picked up another point at Sincil Bank on Saturday against promotion-challenging Peterborough United.
Michael Skubala named an unchanged side from our draw with Derby last weekend. Lukas Jensen started in goal, with a back four of Lasse Sorensen, Adam Jackson, Alex Mitchell and Sean Roughan. Ted Bishop once again started while Ethan Hamilton and Ethan Erhahon continued in midfield. Reeco Hackett made his second start since coming back from injury, while Freddie Draper and Joe Taylor continued as the attacking pair. The only change in the squad was Danny Mandroiu coming back in, following the end of his suspension – replacing the outgoing Ali Smith.
Peterborough started the game with plenty of the ball as expected, but we were doing well to keep Darren Ferguson’s side camped in their own half. Despite having all the possession, we had the first chance of the game. A long throw from Sorensen caused issues in the box, and after a few touches fell to Bishop inside the area. The former Ipswich man couldn’t keep his effort down though and fired high over the bar.
The visitors threatened with a few short corner routines but we were the ones threatening and looking the most likely to score. Peterborough looked to play out the back, and Sorensen stole the ball away from Harrison Burrows on the left. The Dane drove forward, beating his man but his effort hit the side netting.
Erhahon was the first City player to test Jed Steer. We stole the ball back on the edge of the area, with Erhahon at the heart of it along with Taylor. The Scotsman hit an effort from outside the area but it was a comfortable save for Steer in goal.
Peterborough looked dangerous, and it wasn’t a surprise. Ferguson’s side are the highest scoring team in the league, and have averaged 2 goals a game in the past 6 games. The visitors nearly took the lead following a nice flowing move down the right-hand side. Jadel Katongo played an intricate ball to David Ajiboye, setting him free down the wing ahead of Roughan. The former Sutton man played a teasing ball into Ricky Jade-Jones, whose effort smashed the crossbar.
As the first-half came to a close, it would’ve been Skubala, who was happier out of the two head coaches. We had put in a really good 45 minutes – we carried threat on the attack and also dealt with Peterborough defensively. Bishop was the pick of the bunch in the first-half for me, the midfielder looked dangerous and every time he got on the ball, he looked to move forward and create an opening. The first half was good, but we had to ensure we kept them performance levels up because Peterborough looked frightening in small glimpses – we had to limit that.
Ferguson sent his side early for the second half as he looked for a reaction from his team. They started the second-half on the front foot, Burrows forced a stunning diving save from Jensen just a few minutes after the break. The Dane parried the ball away with the rebound falling to Ajiboye, but he couldn’t make anything of the chance.
We looked to get ourselves into the game too, making it a real end-to-end contest in front of a bumper Sincil Bank crowd. Roughan played a smart ball in the channel to Draper. The Imps academy graduate used his body really well to hold off the Peterborough defender and then find a brilliant pass to put Hackett through on goal. The winger forced a save out of Steer but couldn’t quite get the opening goal.
Skubala then used the bench to try and find the winning goal. Mandroiu replaced Bishop, while Jack Moylan replaced Taylor, who endured a quiet afternoon despite plenty of handwork and endeavour. Bishop was one of our top performers up until he came off with the injury – hopefully it’s just a precautionary measure and we’ll see him back for Burton next weekend.
Mandroiu was straight into the action when he came on, and he could’ve put us into the lead. The Irishman split the Peterborough defence open with a lovely ball to Sorensen on the right. The Dane couldn’t quite get his shot away but the rebound fell to Mandroiu. His first shot was blocked, but the former Shamrock man had a golden opportunity as the ball fell to him again but he placed the ball wide of the post.
Draper could’ve put us ahead too. A long ball from Sorensen caused an uncharacteristic error from Ronnie Edwards and Josh Knight at the back for the visitors and allowed Draper to use his strength and power to get through on goal. The 19-year-old took on the shot slightly off balance and fired his effort just over the bar. Draper once again impressed me, in the last three weeks he’s played against some very experienced and highly rated defenders and dominated them. Saturday was no different, he used his body well and I can’t wait for him to start getting on the scoresheet because it’s certainly coming.
Peterborough had a few chances late in the game, but there was nothing that really challenged Jensen in goal. The visitors did get the ball in the net, but it was offside. We never looked like conceding, and that’s a massive positive. I thought Jackson was phenomenal yesterday once again. He’s a classic old school centre-half, but also has great ability on the ball. It’s nice to see him finally getting the recognition he deserves.
I feel like I’ve waxed lyrical about Mitchell ever since he came in on loan but once again he proved what an outstanding defender he is. A proper defender who puts his all into every single game. I’d go all out for him in the summer, if we’re serious about challenging higher up the league then keeping a partnership of Jackson and Mitchell is crucial, especially with the likes of Eyoma and O’Connor pushing for a spot in the team.
Roughan deserves a mention too. He’s had his ups and downs this year, but now he’s finally being played in his best position. I think this hybrid of having him playing as a left sided central defender without the ball and then allowing him to push up in possession suits him really well, and that’s been clear in the last three games. I think he’s performed better than both Eiran Cashin and Ronnie Edwards in the games against Derby and Peterborough. They are both rated as multi-million pound defenders and I think Roughan can be in that category too.
There are so many positives from Saturday. We’ve gone from a side with no attacking threat to a team with plenty of it. We’ve stopped conceding silly goals, especially from set pieces and we have plenty of players to hurt the opposition. The last two games have seen us come away with great results, but the next two matches are arguably bigger, they will be the real proof of how far we’ve come as a team.
On a final note, a new addition or two in the next few days will obviously be expected too, and if we can get a few bodies through the door then things will be looking even more positive as we approach Burton next weekend.