TONY MOWBRAY could have been forgiven for thinking that history was repeating itself on Saturday afternoon.
Eight days on from his side’s defeat at Birmingham City, where Middlesbrough twice squandered the lead at St Andrews, he saw his side manage to throw away a comfortable 2-0 lead a Peterborough, a team which had garnered one point from their last eight games.
But for Ishmael Miller, Middlesbrough’s substitute striker who had been on the pitch for 90 seconds, the visitors would have been heading back up the A1 with a disappointing point, or even worse.
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Mowbray spoke of his relief, but pointed out that the game plan at London Road was not to dominate Peterborough but to absorb the pressure and hit them on the break.
However, it needed the introduction of Miller, on loan from Nottingham Forest, to gain the result.
“I sat there at 2-2 and I thought of last Friday, losing a lead twice, losing the game ultimately, but our changes in the second half helped us,”
said Mowbray, who saw Faris Haroun give his side a 2-0 lead 20 minutes in, only for young Posh striker Dwight Gayle turn it around with goals either side of half-time.
“Miller was a thorn in their side, he helped us. He smashed in the winner for us.
“You watch the first 20 minutes, we came with a game plan. We’ve had the full week to analyse them, to study them.
“They’d lost 4-1 in their last two home games, and yet the evidence we’d seen is that they’re a very good football team. They ask questions of you, they have some talented players and going forward they give teams real problems.
“We set up to let them have the ball so we would counterattack and use the space they leave behind.
“After 20 to 25 minutes that looked like the right tactic. We looked as though we’d go on and dominate.
“My frustration was at that point was that we allowed them to come on to us too much. The goal helped them, a fantastic strike by the young lad. Second goal was sloppy by us from a corner.”
Posh manager Darren Ferguson has been under pressure to deliver results recently, but Mowbray feels that Peterborough’s relegation is by no means a fait acclompi.
“Great credit to Peterborough.
If their bottom of our league it shows what a strong division it is. It’s only fine-tuning for them, they will win matches this year,” he said.
“We only came here to win.
We would be massively disappointed with a draw. Yet we could have lost it.
“Peterborough are a good side and will cause problems for teams, but Saturday was all about the three points.”
The old adage that the best teams play poorly and win may not be apt in this case. Middlesbrough were excellent, in spells.
Peterborough were woeful in spells and excellent after the interval. Mowbray was relieved that his side recovered from an equaliser to go on to win.
“We went to Birmingham, dominated for spells, lost.
Went to Cardiff before, even more dominant, lost,” he explained.
“So to come to Peterborough, they have the lion’s share of the ball, looking the better side at times, and win, we’ll put the points in the bag and move on.
“We know we can dominate football games when we push on and press. Saturday wasn’t about pushing or pressing, it was having a game plan to score some goals against Peterborough.
“The last two weeks we’ve battered teams with the ball.
We’ve been dominant and lost them both.
“To go there and let them have the ball, let them play, then win and score three goals away from home, let’s not be over-critical. Job done.”