Peterborough United 0 - West Bromwich Albion 1

Date: Saturday 28th August 2021 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Johnstone 6.3, Ajayi 7.2, Bartley 5.5 (Reach, 45 5.5), O'Shea 7.2, Furlong 6.3, Livermore 6.3, Mowatt 6.3, Townsend 6.8, Diangana 5.4 (Hugill, 57 6.3), Phillips 7.4, Grant 5.9
Unused subs: Palmer, Taylor, Snodgrass, Gardner-Hickman, Fellows
Manager: Valérien Ismaël  6.9
Scorers: Ajayi (94)
Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight) 5.6
Attendance: 10,163   Home Fans 5.0   Away Fans 8.1
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 12


For 93 minutes, my first live experience of 'Val-ball' reminded me of football class at Rednal Hill Juniors in 1960 - a swarm of eager, talentless kids chasing after the ball in the hope of hoofing it, occasionally in the right direction. Then, out of nowhere, Phillips produced a moment of class to lay the ball on for Ajayi to tap in a barely deserved winner. But credit the team for pushing right to the end.

The Championship, we are constantly reminded, is all about grit and determination, not skill; and grit, we have in spades. Nevertheless, as the game wore on I longed for Pereira to appear out of the tunnel, put his foot on the ball and make an intelligent pass that a forward had a chance of bringing under control.

Yes, it's hard to be critical of Ismael's tactics, given our start to the season, but what is the long term goal? How many of this squad would make it in the Premier? What are we building towards? We don't know how much we got for Pereira, nor where the money went, but unless something changes in the next day or two that money will not be invested in players. I presume the plan, therefore, is to hope we gain promotion on the cheap with loanees, free transfers, and Ismael's blitzkrieg, thereby attracting a buyer willing to pay more for something closer to Kai's valuation. Our future depends on Ismael to pull this off and then for some rich Russian/American/Arab to plough a few hundred million into his hobby. Let's hope.