David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Lee Tomlin’

A doomed campaign…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


Peterborough United’s hopes of a glorious league campaign – a campaign in which we were set to get promoted automatically – was doomed from 24th September 2013, at around four minutes to eight, as Ki Sung-Yeung delivered a shattering blow to Lee Tomlin’s ankle.

That’s not to say there haven’t been other factors which have led to Posh’s mid-season capitulation. But in my opinion it was that ‘fateful night’ which proved to be the catalyst.

Before that game, Tomlin had scored seven goals in 11 League One appearances and his partnership with record-signing Britt Assombalonga was flourishing. Meaning, whilst Posh were broadly scraping through games by the skin of their teeth, Darren Ferguson had a strike force capable of bailing the team out. Even if Posh were looking as defensively porous as a sheet of crêpe paper, whilst also seemingly becoming a team who were incapable of holding onto the ball, for more than five passes.

Lee Tomlin, no matter his faults was by far the best player in League One on his day.

Of course the problem was that day tended to be infrequent, due to his abysmal disciplinary record and even more appalling temper. The injury against Sunderland led to Tomlin being ruled out for around six weeks and after that lay-off, his patience with a club who had blocked his chances of Champions League football at the Nou Camp – so he could slog it out at Stevenage – had finally snapped. A mission of self-destruction, leading to numerous cautions and sending off, made Tomlin’s departure to Middlesbrough on transfer deadline day – whilst being a surprise, in its announcement – something any Posh fan knew was coming sooner or later, a reality.

His departure left a team who were dreadfully bereft of confidence, short of creativity as well.

Arguably the next in the line to fill the role of creator in this Posh team, is Danny Swanson. A player who since arriving at the club, has confused most fans, with his inability to pass, tackle and generally perform in the manner expected for a midfielder who arrived at the club with the tag of ‘the most technically gifted player’ an international manager had worked with. Sure, that manager may have been Scotland’s doomed Craig Levein – a man who attempted to play a 4-6-0 with some of the most technically inept footballers around – but Swanson arrived with high expectations. Expectations which the Scotsman has failed to meet, barring some fleeting glimpses of quality recently (notably Crewe, where he played more as a winger, not as a number 10).

Posh’s lack of creativity was probably best displayed last Tuesday against visiting Bristol City. Two early goals from once Posh target Sam Baldock and an early sending off for City’s Adam El-Abd for a clash with Assombalonga meant whilst Posh were 2-0 down – they had 70 minutes against 10 men. A goal from a corner, scored by centre-back or midfielder (who bloody knows at the moment) Michael Bostwick before half-time meant Posh went in, with voices around London Road chattering about a come-back.

However it was in these 45 minutes where Posh’s tremendous lack of creativity – a lack of almost any willingness to take a risk – was exposed. Posh’s midfield consisted at that point of Grant McCann, Michael Bostwick, on-loan Josh McQuoid and striker Nicky Ajose; a group of players who consistently over that 45 minute period stuttered and stumbled in their attempts to break down an incredibly stubborn Bristol City defence. When it looked like a defence splitting pass was available for any of the four – a pass which would have unleashed Assombalonga or new boy Conor Washington – they faltered and bottled it, playing the safe square ball across the penalty box, which allowed Bristol City to consistently park 10 men behind the ball and scupper Posh’s feeble advances.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the midfielders tasked with unlocking the Bristol defence weren’t helped by the incredible lack of movement and guile showed by Assombalonga and Washington. For the second half they seemed glued to the sides of Karleigh Osborne and Brendan Maloney – showing a frightening apprehension at the thought of coming dropping off either of the defenders to make a run towards the ball.

Posh may have peppered Frank Fielding’s goal with shots, but the eventual result was a dismal defeat for Darren Ferguson’s men. The result and performance led to a Tim Sherwood-esque blasting of the Peterborough United playing staff by Fergie Jnr.

Was it justified? Arguably yes. The Posh first half performance was atrocious, and for a team with ambitions of promotions via the play-offs the defending was utterly laughable.

The next three games against (sort-of) rivals MK Dons, Rotherham and Preston will be telling. Often it’s against the best teams in this league where Posh have performed best this season. But after such dismal defeat midweek, this Posh team will need to muster all of their character to get any semblance of a play-off promotion push back on track.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

Peterborough 2012-13 season review

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In the 89th minute of the final game of the season, the well laid plans of Darren Ferguson, Barry Fry and Darragh MacAnthony came crashing down, as a free-kick that should never have been was converted by Palace skipper, Mile Jedniak.

The entire season turned on this single incident with Posh moving from safety to the final relegation spot. For those who hold Posh so close to their hearts it was the bitterest pill to swallow, yet another poor refereeing decision was to condemn their team to League One football next season. Despair and disbelief flooded the Twittersphere as those fans poured out their hearts and souls online.

True, Posh had once again given them the ride of their lives, they had watched their team from the lows of August and September when they had failed to collect a point in their first seven games, to the relative high of seeing them come within two minutes of pulling off what would truly have been the greatest escape of them all; in the process they had seen their team score more goals than promoted Hull City. Once again, following the Posh was not for the faint hearted, perhaps next season their London Road ground should be posted with warning signs urging those of a nervous disposition or with a heart condition to turn away.

A torrid end to the 2011-2012 season secured the club’s Championship status but saw Posh finish the season in abject form and with key members of the squad, including that season’s captain, Grant McCann, on the precipice of leaving London Road. However, Ferguson Jnr. recruited well in the summer, in all the key positions; ensuring that the club had a core of players that he and the supporters believed were capable of securing Championship status once again.

All was not as well as it seemed, as Posh were found tactically wanting in the first seven games of the season and left cut adrift at the foot of the table. Hope seemed in pretty low reserves even after Posh picked up their first win of the season, away at high flying Hull City, following a tactical switch and a tremendous counter-attacking performance from Emile Sinclair and George Boyd.

Even with the team wallowing in last place Ferguson Jnr. ensured fans that ‘he knew what to do’ and was ‘confident of survival’, and while few truly believed, there was always hope. The abject form of the initial period of the season was left behind and results slowly picked up. There was no one reason for this upturn but one key factor was the return of injured left wing-back Tommy Rowe, whose Bale-esque displays won points on their own at various stages of the season.

The arrival of Dwight Gayle midway through November added goals whilst the ‘Peterborough Four’ incident blew over seeing Barnett, Sinclair and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing at least temporarily leaves the club. The former non-league striker’s form beggared belief at times after his arrival, and the confirmation of his transfer from Dagenham and Redbridge was hugely symbolic in the quest for survival. The diminutive hitman’s flourishing partnership with Lee Tomlin was a breath of fresh air, with Gayle’s perfect hat-trick against former Premier League winners, Blackburn Rovers, providing a memorable moment for all in a blue shirt.

The tail end of the season was when Posh really found their momentum though, and while their 172 game record of no matches without a nil-nil draw was broken, a 12 game unbeaten run gave hope where many had long since stopped believing. Entering the final stretch the atrocious start to the season was a distant though painful memory and Posh had Championship survival within their own grasp, even if the survival permutations required a super computer to calculate.

Posh went into a decisive game with Sheffield Wednesday knowing that a win would ensure that come the last day of the season they would be the masters of their own destiny . An ugly game of hoofball from the visitors meant Posh’s passing play was often disrupted, and it took a moment of brilliance from free-kick specialist and man for the big occasion, Grant McCann to see Posh emerge with the three points and the all important ability to forge their own destiny come 4th May.

The day itself is now history, another appalling refereeing gaff condemned Posh to filling the last relegation berth and with a draw then good enough to secure the survival of both Huddersfield and Barnsley, the Yorkshire compatriots then stood motionless in anticipation of their final whistle, the sound which served as the death knell to Posh’s two year stint in the Championship. As Posh sunk back into League One Darren Ferguson’s post-match interview did little to allay fears of a Posh firesale and while the London Road faithful may be hopeful of holding onto the key assets at the club, the likes of Gayle, Tomlin, Rowe and Bostwick seem unlikely to be lining up in a Posh shirt next season come August 4th.

Relegation alone is enough to give rise to a fan’s despair, but the stark reality is that this youthful Posh team could have kicked on next season and perhaps moved away from the yo-yo status it had hitherto occupied. Yet now, the team who performed so admirably and fought so bravely in the second half of the season looks destined to be torn apart.

Having sat in the main stand at London Road with those who have supported the Posh for many decades I can only imagine the pain that they are feeling, my own Posh journey began just short of two decades ago when, aged one, my dad took me to see Posh play at home to Wolves, we lost 1-0, to a 90th minute Cyrille Regis goal in a season that also saw us relegated from the second tier of English football. If that experience tells us anything then as with the last few years we must see it as a chance to rebuild, to regroup and to challenge for the League One title. No matter which players we hold onto, DMAC, Ferguson and Fry have the best interests of the club at heart and the expected departures in the summer, whilst heart-breaking, are a necessary evil.

2013-14 is the year for players like Newell, Ntlhe, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Swanson and perhaps Shaquille McDonald to flourish and show why they are at the club. This season may ultimately have ended in failure, but to dwell on that would be a mistake, for it was glorious failure, and whilst not quite on the scale of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the club enters 2013-14 with one of the best lines of form of any team in any division. There is plenty to be optimistic about, this is just a setback and as Posh have shown over the years the club can recover and reclaim its place in the Championship.

See you at Stevenage.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

Gayle Force Winds

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

It’s been a while hasn’t it? So much so, little old Posh find themselves in the Championship for a second successive season. Perhaps the reason for the lack of Posh updates from me is because it was such a ruddy exciting time last season that it was all just too much to adequately put into words. But to be fair, it was mainly for the fact these days I find myself living in Yorkshire, far from the safety of my beloved London Road.

Being a Posh fan is hard at the best of times, particularly after the start we had to this season. Try, however, being a lone Posh fan in the heart of Sheffield. It’s a very lonely existence let me tell you. It’s not like being a Manchester United fan for example where you can watch the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young on a (somewhat illegal) Iranian website streaming all their games. At least those fans have some form of connection with their team.

Posh rarely find themselves in front of the Sky cameras. Even when we are, do you genuinely think anyone else is willing to trudge down to the pub on an early Saturday evening in the middle of November to see Posh take on the mighty Blackburn Rovers? The answer is no. So much of my time watching Posh is done on my own, in a pub, while drinking vast quantities of alcohol. In later life, a doctor will probably tell me this is where the drink problem began.

But enough about football fuelled alcoholism, what about the season Posh have had so far. To be truthful, it’s nothing surprising. We’re the smallest club in the league and we’ve struggled for the vast majority of the season so far. But then something happened, Lee Tomlin started playing well. Some of you probably know young Tomlin as ‘the fat one’ or ‘the one that told a police officer to get a proper job and offered to buy him a BMW’ or perhaps more simply a rather rude word beginning with ‘C’ and, to be honest, that’s how he’s known universally amongst Posh fans.

I really am not sure what clicked inside Lee Tomlin’s head but, after so many seasons of distinct averageness and scrapes with the law, he realised he had a bit of talent. He could not have picked a better time to decide all this either. Posh are lumbering at the foot of the table in the fine company of Barnsley, Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday. Ahead of the infamous festive period, a decent run was exactly what was needed and to bolster a lacklustre team, Ferguson brought in 22 year old Dwight Gayle from Dagenham & Redbridge.

Gayle had previously been on loan at Conference North side Bishops Stortford and managed to score 42 goals in a single season. Ferguson has always been about plucking youngsters from the lower divisions and if it worked with Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith surely it could work again? Gayle was partnered up front with the newly reformed Lee Tomlin and the two clicked exactly when Posh needed them most – during that dreaded festive period.

12 points out of 15 meant Posh suddenly found themselves outside the relegation zone. What’s more, Posh weren’t simply grinding out wins in an ugly fashion; they were beating teams in a classy manner. On the 1st December, Posh lost 4-1 to a rather bland Blackpool side but just two short weeks later, Posh rather convincingly had beaten Cardiff City at home. Let’s not forget that at the time Cardiff City had the best home record in Europe. Wins against Bolton, Wolves and Barnsley wrapped up a rather jolly festive period (the only loss being against Bristol City) and gives a rejuvenated Posh side a fighting chance to beat the drop.

What should be expected in 2013? Survival now seems like a reachable target but it relies on Dwight Gayle and Lee Tomlin staying fit. They have been the difference in recent weeks and their absence in today’s FA Cup game against Norwich really showed. Nobody else stepped up to the mark and finishing in the final third was non-existent. It’s worrying to think that if both these players are out for a considerable period, then Posh’s survival hopes could be flushed away just like that.

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger