On Tuesday night, promotion-chasers Peterborough United fell to defeat on their travels at the hands of Gary Caldwell’s Exeter City.
It was a come from behind victory for the Grecians to gain all three points with an improved second half performance as well as some fortune ensuring victory for the Devon-based side. A Harrison Burrows penalty would see Posh go into the break ahead and although they may have looked the better of the two sides in the first period, it was hardly a convincing first half performance.
Darren Ferguson’s side would miss a whole host of opportunities to extend that lead and would end up shooting themselves in the foot, with Exeter fighting back in the second half. Peterborough were somewhat masters of their own downfall, with both Nicholas Bilokapic and Jadel Katongo putting the ball into their own net. The Grecians may have got somewhat lucky to come away as victors, yet Peterborough themselves probably didn’t deserve to win given their performance in front of goal.
As a result, Caldwell’s Exeter further distance themselves from the relegation zone and move up to 14th. Given as recently as a couple of weeks ago they were hanging precariously above the relegation places, they now have a six-point gap to Port Vale in 21st.
For Peterborough, recent results have not been so bright, with the loss on Tuesday meaning that they are now winless in their last three matches, gaining just one point in the process. Due to that, they’ve somewhat slipped out of the title fight and are now being caught by the pack behind.
With that in mind, here are three things that we learnt from Peterborough’s 2-1 loss to Exeter City on Tuesday night…
Peterborough are no longer in the title fight
That may seem like an incredibly harsh statement, and there is no doubt some recency bias but recent performances have put a serious dent in any title hopes that Posh had this season. Although they may have a game in hand on current leaders Portsmouth, they are still seven points behind. Furthering that, third-placed Bolton Wanderers, who are currently two points ahead of Posh also have two games in hand over Darren Ferguson’s side.
Where each of Portsmouth and Bolton, as well as second-placed Derby County all strengthening in January, Peterborough have somewhat fallen behind after a slightly disappointing window.
There is no reason as to why they cannot still get promoted via the play-offs or even automatic places, but currently, Peterborough do not look like a side with title credentials.
Exeter will stay up this season
That’s a statement that potentially few Exeter fans would’ve agreed with in December after a run of 13 games without a win, but give both Caldwell as well as the squad credit, they’ve turned things around dramatically in the last month. With just one loss in their last five, the Grecians have gained 10 points during that spell, which for a team in the bottom half of the table, is an incredible feat.
Beating both Peterborough as well as Barnsley, who are also in the play-off positions, in the last month, it is easy to see that Exeter have strengthened in January and improvements are being seen on the pitch. A six point gap to the drop zone means that they are not out of the relegation fight, but given recent results, as well as the teams around them struggling, Exeter can really pull away from the bottom four in the coming weeks.
Peterborough needed to strengthen in January
This may have already been slightly touched on, but Posh’s January transfer window compared to the teams around them, was seriously underwhelming. Where other teams obviously strengthened in January, it is hard to say that Peterborough did. Aaron Collins joining Bolton, Portsmouth signing Myles Peart-Harris and Owen Moxon and then Derby gaining the services of Corey Blackett-Taylor are all examples of marquee January signings for the current top-three.
For Ferguson’s side, there was no such ‘major signing’ and the window seemed almost more about retaining their current squad rather than improving it. They may have done that, bar Ephron Mason-Clark joining Coventry although he has been loaned back to Peterborough until the end of the season, but depth does now seem to somewhat be an issue.
That may just be why the club have struggled in the last couple of weeks and as a result, could face another season in League One.