Peterborough United head North East for their 50th and final League match of 2011 as they face high-flying Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough -Vs- Peterborough United
Venue: Riverside Stadium
Date: 31st December, 2011
Peterborough United make the long trip north to face a tough challenge in the New Year`s Eve match against Middlesbrough.
Boro are currently on a 4 game winning streak having won three of these by one goal to nil. Posh on the otherhand are on a 3 game unbeaten run after drawing 1-1 away at Leicester and then winning 1-0 against Coventry City and away at Nottingham Forest.
Striker Marvin Emnes is hoping to be fit enough to return to the squad after receiving treatment for a hamstring strain. He has missed the last two matches but he may only make the substitutes bench.
Boro have no new other injuries or suspensions to worry about.
Posh are still without the injured trio of Mark Little, Lee Frecklington and skipper Grant McCann. Lee Tomlin made a surprise return on Monday as he came on as a late substitute although he looked less than fit. He is expected to take his place on the substitutes bench again.
Ryan Tunnicliffe missed the Forest game after failing to recover from a dead leg. He`s recovered from that but has been ill during the week so it remains to be seen if he is well enough to come back into Fergie`s thoughts for this match. Tunnicliffes loan from Manchester United is due to end after the Birmingham match on 2nd January, but he has agreed, in principal, to extend the loan until the end of the season, which is excellent news.
Fellow Manchester United loanee, Scott Wootton, returned from a 2 month injury lay-off when taking his place at the base of the midfield diamond against Nottingham Forest. He had a very impressive game and should retain his starting place.
Despite having a very poor game against Forest, forward Emile Sinclair is expected to retain his starting place as boss Darren Ferguson sticks with the midfield diamond formation supporting the two forwards.
Vital Posh predicts the starting line-up could be:
Alcock, Bennett, Zakuani, Kennedy
Wootton, Kearns, Rowe, Boyd
Posh boss Darren Ferguson is happy with the recent results and the position they find themselves at the half-way stage of the season: “Back-to-back wins and back-to-back clean sheets have given us a terrific boost. They were vital wins for us because from being four points outside the bottom three, the gap is now 10 points.
“That ensured we reached the halfway stage in a very comfortable mid-table position and we would all have settled for that at the start of the season.
“We know we are in for a tough match tomorrow. Middlesbrough are another big Championship club who are well-managed, have top players and they are in good form.
“But we have proved we can match these big clubs and we are confident we can go up there and give them a game.
“My lads are in good form and in good spirits. We feel like we can beat any team on our day.”
Fergie looks set to stick with the formation Posh have used for the majority of this season; utilising a midfield diamond. Posh used this formation in their Carling Cup match earlier in the season when losing 2-0 to Boro but he changed his tactics for the recent League match between the two clubs which ended 1-1: “Sitting back against Middlesbrough away from home would be asking for trouble. Frustrating them worked for us at home, but I want to carry the attack to them tomorrow by doing what we do well and that`s keeping the ball.” Ferguson said.
There is one Posh player that is really looking forward to the match and that is Boro fan Craig Alcock.
“I`m looking forward to going back there tomorrow. I became a Boro fan because they were involved in the first live match I ever saw as a kid. I was visiting my uncle in Coventry and he took me to watch them play Boro so I decided to support them.
“I couldn`t have picked a team much further away from my home to support, but I am still keen for them to do well.
“Boro`s position in the table tells us how hard it`s going to be for us to get a result, but we travel with plenty of confidence.
“No disrespect to Yeovil [Alcock`s former club], but I`m playing with better players now. In fact I found it harder to adjust to playing with so many different players in a totally different style of football than I did to adjust to Championship opponents.
“The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and the players have made me so welcome it`s turned out to be a brilliant move for me.
“We`ve put in a lot of hard work defensively in recent weeks and it`s starting to pay off.
“I`m loving every minute of it though.”
STATS & FACTS
Head to Head statistics between these two teams can be found HERE.
A form guide to Middlesbrough and Posh can be found HERE.
7 – Emnes
6 – Robson
6 – McDonald
2 – Haroun
2 – Martin
8 – McCann
6 – Taylor
6 – Sinclair
5 – Tomlin
5 – Frecklington
5 – Boyd
Confidence is high in the Posh camp after keeping clean sheets in the last two games but this game is an altogether tougher proposition.
Posh will try to keep things tight at the back and push forward whenever possible. The front two will need to hold the ball up much better than they did against Forest on Monday. If they can do these things well, I don`t see many goals being scored.
Boro have drawn half their home games and this could be another draw, but will it be a score draw or will Posh finally get a goalless draw for the first time in 99 League matches?
Vital Posh predicts a tight game ending in a battling 0 – 0 draw.
Geoff ELTRINGHAM takes charge of this clash. It`s his first visit to the Riverside this season but has officiated Posh this season when they went down 1-0 at home to Hull City following a goal from former Posh forward Aaron McLean.
He will be assisted by Richard Clark and Scott Duncan.
The fourth official is Simon Clayton.
UP THE POSH
Follow me on Twitter: @mwl1967
Photos/images courtesy of www.theposhpics.com
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