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Peterborough United v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 10th February 2012
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy is rather regretting spending that winter fuel payment he got just before Christmas in the pub. He's having to make do by burning all those documents that nice Mr Redknapp brought round for his fire last week. There's enough there to keep him going for a few years. In the meantime here's his look at this weekend's visit to Peterborough. Stats courtesy of John Northcutt

Next we journey up the A1(M) to London Road where our hosts will be Peterborough United. After the getting up in the middle of the night experience of last weekend, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s a 3pm kick off this Saturday. Those of you who like to attend these matches using Mr Stevenson’s steam-powered track-based transport system may like to note that due to engineering works further north (yes there is such a place) the East Coast Main Line will be running to a revised timetable. There’s also no service on the Met which will mean fewer services along the top bit of the Circle Line which may affect journeys to King’s Cross in the first place. Finally most of you will have noted that it's been a bit nippy out over the last few days. With the London Road ground being one of the older grounds in the League there's no undersoil heating. They are taking all possible steps to ensure that the match takes place but much will depend on the overnight weather. There will be a pitch inspection at 10am so, as ever check before you go.

Our hosts this weekend currently sit in 18th spot with 34 points from their 29 matches so far. This is a just about comfortable ten points off the drop zone though it’s not a gap they’ll want to see shrinking. Current form is not much to be writing home about with them having drawn three (all 1-1 at home to Birmingham and away to Middlesbrough and last weekend at Burnley) and lost three (0-1 away at ‘Ull, 1-2 at home to Brighton and 0-3 at home to Pompey) of their last six league matches. In fact you have to go back to Boxing Day for their last win, a 1-0 victory at strugglers Nottingham Forest.

Their boss is Darren Ferguson. Ferguson is in his second spell at the club having departed back in 2009 to take over at Preston. After he got the sack at Deepdale his dad, in an act that was breathtakingly petulant even by his pretty tawdry standards, recalled all three players that were on loan from Manchester United. Just to rub salt into the wounds Ferguson senior persuaded his mate Tony Pulis to do the same with a couple of Stoke players who were also on loan. Thus at a stroke just about half a team were lost because of a fit of pettiness.

Ferguson returned to Peterborough just over a year ago after the incumbent boss Gary Johnson left following a disagreement over “policy” with the club’s “Director Of Football” Barry Fry. Ferguson managed to keep up the good work and get them promoted to the Championship following a surprising 3-0 play-off win over Huddersfield Town.

Along with the Preston loan scandal, another thing that the Ferguson family won’t go out of their way to publicise is the incident that saw Darren pick up a £1,500 fine from the beak in 2010 for common assault, the victim being his now ex-missus. Now lord knows the former Mrs Preview Percy was a complete pain in the backside and here in the Avram Grant Rest Home the anniversary of my Decree Absolute is celebrated with the same spirit of joy that accompanied VE day. However, the thought of giving her a clout round the earhole never once crossed my mind so the Posh boss will get no sympathy from this quarter.

Back onto football, rather than domestic violence matters, and the club had a less than successful transfer window. Despite Ferguson’s protestations that he wasn’t in the market for anyone, it transpired that moneybags club Crawley had turned down a double bid for defender Kyle McFazdean and striker Tyrone Barrett. They also lost highly-rated England U21 defender Ryan Bennett to Norwich City. Bit of a strange deal this one as it includes an immediate loan back to Peterborough until the end of the month, meaning that he will be available for selection for this one. Bennett’s departure will (eventually) leave them very short-handed at the back, though I understand that the Bennett transfer deal has an agreement that a couple of players can go on loan in the opposite direction once Bennett finally finds his way to Carrow Road. In the meantime defender Matthew Briggs has come in on a loan from Fulham, initially for one month.

The ‘keeper is former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Lewis. The 24 year old has been touted in some circles as a potential replacement for Robert Green if/when Green ever leaves the Boleyn. He’s already been included in a couple of squads for the full England set-up though for both the matches concerned he was an unused sub. He does have a number of U21 caps, one of which was gained in Sealey-esq fashion when he came on as an outfield player in a match against Azerbaijan.

There are a couple of ex-Hammers in the squad. Grant McCann is the club captain and spent five years on the books from 1998-2003. Most of that time he was out on loan and he only made four sub appearances for the first team. There's a quiz question lurking somewhere in the fact that he's managed play-off promotions with three different clubs (Cheltenham, Scunthorpe and Posh) at three different stadiums (Millennium, Wembley and Old Trafford respectively).

The other academy graduate in the squad is Daniel Kearns. Like McCann, Kearns was born in Belfast. However, controversially, after gaining representative honours for Northern Ireland at U19 level Kearns switched allegiance to the Republic for whom he has subsequently been capped at U19, U21 and U23 level. The Republic has had asomething of an aggressive recruiting policy at age level in recent years, and the row between the IFA and the FAI continues to fester, though the views of the Judean Popular Front and the Popular Front of Judea have not as yet been canvassed.

There's an interesting character up front in the shape of scouser Paul Taylor. He started off on the books of Man City after which things started to go all silly. A spell with Vauxhall Motors saw him come to the attention of Chester City in 2008. A six-month loan with a view to a permanent deal was agreed. The loan lasted less than three months as Chester's failure to pay his wages was cited as the reason for his missing a number of away games. There was also the small matter of a positive drug test for cocaine which saw the player given a six month ban.

So where next? The Belgian fifth division. Obviously. A few goals at some outfit called Montegnee saw Anderlecht swoop but it wasn't long before they loaned him out to strugglers Charleroi. That deal lasted about a month before he got tired of the all-chip diet and signed an 18 month deal with Posh. He's currently stalling on a new contract and Barry Fry claims that there has been interest from the Premiership. Blackburn is one team that have been mentioned. So back to the all-chip diet then.

And so to us. Well last week’s win was pleasing on oh so many levels. Obviously any win against that lot is to be welcomed – and if anyone ever really thought that white heather was “lucky” might want to look at that second goal again – it certainly did them no good did it? However, for me the pleasing thing was the fact that for the vast majority of the match we passed the ball about. And when we did “go long” Cole was in one of those all too rare moods that saw him hold up play superbly. The sending-off of Nolan whilst, in itself, justifiable did seem harsh in the context of one or two other tackles that went unpunished – that kung-fu assault on Taylor was one that springs to mind. Still those who have been wondering exactly how things would be without the skipper in the middle will now have three matches (at least) to see how things work.

The Tomkins in midfield experiment was interesting. Admittedly it wasn’t a total success – some of the lad’s passing was occasionally a bit wayward - and the anticipated role that he was due to play just in front of the back four went out of the window after ten minutes as he pushed into a more traditional midfield berth. However, despite the initial fish out of water concerns he stuck to the task well and it will be interesting to see if the Manager sticks with the experiment.  
Injury wise the only two likely to be unavailable are Papa who is still hamstrung, and Demel who has been making noises about targeting Southampton for any potential return. Otherwise we have a full squad bursting at the seams with new boys itching for debuts.  
Prediction? Well the “West Ham factor” needs to be considered of course. That’s a combination of our seemingly endless talent over the years to shoot ourselves in the foot in matches that we ought to win plus the undoubted raising of the game that some clubs have when confronted by what they perceive to be a “bigger” club. Throw into that the Manager’s natural inclination to be less than adventurous away from the Boleyn and a small home ground packed out with a sell-out crowd and you have the makings of a Cup Tie sort of feel to the match which could add an element of “banana skin” to possibly already icy conditions.

Having factored all that into my equations though I’m still going for us to win – albeit by a tighter margin than one might expect. Let’s say 2-1 to us then to keep the gap to at least four points in advance of the midweek fixture.
Enjoy the game and wrap up warm!

When Last We Met: Won 1-0 Mark Noble’s winner came from the spot (obviously) after Lansbury had been bundled over in the box. The manager later referred to Abdoulaye Faye as “one cool dude”. Nobody knows why.

Referee: Chris Sarginsonno, me neither. Still he can’t possibly be as bad as that idiot Jones we had last weekend can he?

Danger Man: Grant McCann As an ex-Hammer he is automatically 23.96432% more likely to get on the scoresheet than any of his colleagues according to my Rosie 47 computer. He’s also their top scorer with 8 this season.

Daft fact of the week: Peterborough has been famous over the years for being the centre of the British brick industry. The most famous brick to come from Peterborough is the “Fletton Special” that starred in the Father Ted episode “Speed 3”. The brick, you will recall, was placed on the accelerator pedal of a milk float to prevent it from slowing down below 4mph thus detonating a bomb.

The brick retired from show business a few years ago following the emergence of its acting prodigy, Keanu Reeves (though film critics maintain that Reeves has never managed to convey the warmth and feeling to his roles for which his mentor was famous).  In retirement, the brick is a regular at London Road where it watches home matches from an executive box constantly moaning about how much better the defensive walls were “back in my day”.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Friendlies (all away)

Aug 1967 4-2 Hurst, Peters, Sissons 2
Aug 1973 2-1 Brooking Robson
Aug 1995 1-1 Cottee
Jul 2004 1-1 Dailly
Jul 2008 2-0 Bellamy 2
Jul 2010 2-1 Cole, Edgar

They Played For Both

Bobby Barnes, Matthew Etherington, Bill Green
Dave Llewellyn, Grant McCann, Adam Newton
Terry Woodgate

Our former captain Noel Cantwell had two spells as the Peterborough manager.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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