Tim Stoodley looks ahead to the New Years Eve fixture with Coventry City.
Peterborough United look to close out 2016 on a high as they face Coventry City in the final Sky Bet League One fixture of the year at the ABAX Stadium on Saturday (3pm). Posh are hoping to see out an unbeaten December if they can secure at least a point against a struggling City side.
Coventry currently lie 23rd in the table after a heavy 4-1 defeat away to Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day and with struggles both on and off the pitch, Posh will head into this one as favourites with the bookies, however, manager Grant McCann is well are that his side will need to be on their game to secure the points.
City are on a woeful run having won just once in December and having suffered defeat eight times in their last ten games. That said, the Sky Blues aren't a team for McCann's outfit to take lightly. They're composed, and off-the-pitch issues aside, are a solid looking team on paper.
New-boss Russell Slade only took charge of his first game in the heavy Boxing Day defeat, but he lined-up in a 4-3-3, much like he did with his recent Charlton Athletic team, and whilst the idea is attractive and they do have experienced players to pull-it-off, in that particular game they lacked the defensive quality to grind out a result. With Slade coming up to his first transfer window, it'll remain to be seen how he can look to rectify the leaky back line.
Coventry City have been well known through the years at producing quality English footballers, and despite their problems in the background, the young-and-hungry approach continues to yield. Defender Jordan Willis is the latest academy player to break into the first team. He's being linked to a host of Championship clubs and watching him, it's easy to see why. He plays well above his years (22) and looks comfortable both in and out of possession, no wonder then that he is the most capped Coventry player this campaign.
Continuing the home-made player route is midfielder Ben Stevenson, who has become a mainstay in the middle for the Blues this season, although he didn't feature in Slade's first starting eleven, so it remains to be seen if he'll return to the line-up against Posh. He's clever, naturally talented and tricky to mark.
Up top there is quality as well, and it's a name Poshies will be familiar with, Marvin Sordell, the 25 year-old is joint top scorer for Coventry this campaign and he'll be one to watch for McCann's back line.
The match official will be John Brooks, who splits his time between being a Select Group assistant referee, assisting on Premiership games, and officiating as the main man in the football league. He's taken charge of 22 games this campaign, averaging nearly five cautions per match. He's also shown red on seven occasions this term. It is the first time Mr Brooks has taken charge of a Peterborough game, having only been promoted from the National League in the summer. He did take charge of Coventry's 1-0 win over Chesterfield back in November. He also showed red to City’s Lewis Page on that day.
The Sky Blues have by far the better record when it comes to clashes between these two sides. They've done battle on 19 occasions, with Coventry coming out winners on 11 of them. With spoils split on five of those occurrences, it means Posh have mustered a win just three times. However, the most recent meeting between the two sides, a league meeting at the ABAX Stadium in March, did see Posh run out 3-1 winners. Michael Bostwick, Lee Angol and Harry Beautyman the scorers in that win. That victory was also Peterborough's biggest ever conquest against The Sky Blues, but interestingly, neither side has ever won by more than a two-goal margin, except for one solitary 3-0 win for Coventry back in 1962.
Posh will be looking to a return for Paul Taylor who missed out on Boxing Day. He's fighting to return from a hamstring injury, but with two games in three days, McCann won't be rushing Taylor back into the fold. Jermaine Anderson and Jack Baldwin remain out for 'Boro.
The key figures:
League positions; Peterborough United - 7th Coventry City - 23rd
Last five; Peterborough United - DWWWD Coventry City - LWLLL
Previous meeting; 25/03/2016 (Sky Bet League One) - Peterborough United 3-1 Coventry City
Average attendances (2015/16); Peterborough United - 5,447 Coventry City - 12,570
Top Scorer (league); Peterborough United - Gwion Edwards (7) Coventry City - Marvin Sordell & Daniel Agyei (4)
Interesting fact: Sky Blues front-man, Marvin Sordell, runs his own charitable foundation, which helps victims and those affected by people trafficking. He got the idea after reading an e-book on the coach to an away game.
Tickets to this one are cheaper if purchased in advance and are on sale at www.theposhtickets.com, via the Ticketmaster hotline 0844 847 1934* and in person at the ABAX Stadium Box Office. *calls cost 7ppm plus your network access fee.