David Clarkson lept off the bench to give City a deserved win over relegation-bound Peterborough and keep up Keith Millen’s impressive run since becoming caretaker manager.
Millen resisted temptation to muck about with tactics or personnel and chose to go with the same XI and formation that started the Barnsley game in midweek, meaning there was to be no debut for new loan signing Gary Sawyer in defence.
The Posh, who were thumped 4-0 at Scunthorpe in the week, looked fragile in defence from the start as City hit their straps from the first minute.
Bradley Orr drew a fine save from England prospect Joe Lewis after 6 minutes following good work from Paul Hartley. The ball sat up nicely to be hit by the scouser, who’s half volley was tipped around the post.
Lewis had to beat away long rangers from Nicky Maynard in the 11th minute, before Liam Fontaine and Danny Haynes shot on sight from distance four minutes later.
City were hungrier to the ball, often winning crunch tackles in the midfield to set up attack after attack in the first-half and it was Orr again who was unlucky not to open the scoring following a smart move on 39.
Maynard fed Orr on the edge of the box but the wing-back shot wide to the right of Lewis’ post with a placed effort.
Peterborough looked a team bereft of any confidence or belief, particularly at the back, which isn’t a good thing when you’re up against two pacy and in-form strikers like Haynes and Maynard but somehow the scores remained level as the two teams went in for the break.
Skuse failed to hit the target with a curling effort from the edge of the box straight after the break following a lay-off by Maynard before the Posh decided to show a little bit of spirit with a rare foray on our goal.
Craig Mackail-Smith, so impressive at Ashton Gate earlier on this season, missed from close range following good work down the right by Kerrea Gilbert and Bristolian Reuben Reid.
Moments later, the exotically named Exodus Geohaghon found himself alone in the box only for Dean Gerken to rush out and smother the ball.
Mackail-Smith’s mishit cross had to be turned onto the crossbar by Gerken before rebounding to safety before City responded in the best possible fashion.
David Clarkson, now on for Danny Haynes who limped off on the hour, met a pinpoint Hartley corner at the near post to thump his header past Lewis from six yards on 71.
Clarkson nearly doubled his and City’s tally for the afternoon five minutes on when Christian Ribeiro broke down the right at speed before picking out the Scot who could only head over.
Just to keep the game in sync with our season so far, there was still time hearts to be in mouths late on.
With two minutes left on the clock, Lee Frecklington’s goalbound shot was blocked by Fontaine before the diminutive midfielder headed the rebound over Gerken’s crossbar.
POSH (4-5-1): Lewis, Zakuani, Griffiths, Geohaghon, Lee, Frecklington, Rowe, Whelpdale (Gilbert ’13), Simpson (Torres ’75), Mackail-Smith, Korentang (Reid ’54).
CITY (3-5-2): Gerken, Ribeiro, Carey, Fontaine, Orr, Skuse, Hartley (Johnson ’82), Elliott (Sno ’86), Campbell-Ryce, Maynard, Haynes (Clarkson ’60).
REFEREE: David Webb (Sunderland)
KEITH MILLEN – 7/10
Impressed with his continuity despite a new signing and in the face of a mounting injury crisis. The players seem to understand their roles a lot more under Milly and seem much happier in the 3-5-2. He’s certainly doing his case to get the job on a permanent basis no harm at all at the moment.
JIM GANNON – 4/10
Changed the formation within the first 15 minutes, which showed he recognised an early problem and tried to change it. Otherwise, looked to be going through the motions at times.
And The Run Continues…
City put in another assured performance today. We could’ve had more than the one goal we had today and the players undoubtedly look like they understand their roles better than they did under Johnson.
However, this is a side who will finish bottom and be relegated so lets not get carried away. The win breeds confidence to take into next week but I suspect Millen will be as equally pleased with the level of commitment his defenders showed to get a clean sheet.
Millen Putting Forward A Strong Case…
I have to admit I was wrong about Keith Millen.
Before, the conception I had of him was as Johnson’s yes man but he’s impressed me with the humility and professionalism he’s going about doing the job.
Whether or not we’ve played against perceived poorer opposition in his three games so far, he’s steadied the ship and allowed the players to play with great freedom.
If he wants the job, he’s going the right way about it.