With pre-season coming around the corner, an anticipated date on the footballing calendar too came around – Fixture Release Day, where clubs in the Football League can assess when and where they’ll be on certain dates. When their beloved team play their hated rival and when – if they’re so lucky – promotion could be clinched in the final few matches. I, for one, always look to see who Posh have on Boxing Day first and foremost and work my way back from there – nothing better than a freezing cold Boxing Day taken over by football, a football fan’s equivalent of Christmas the day after everyone else’s festivities.
That’s where I’ll begin this fixture preview, Posh’ Boxing Day match-up in the 19-20 season. A familiar face returns back to Posh for this one, owing to rumours he might become the new Hull City manager in the form of Grant McCann. Looked down with some discontent after the antics at the Keepmoat last season, this will certainly be a tasty match, especially as Doncaster were expecting to stroll the play-offs according to their arrogant fan base on Twitter. Moreover, Kieran Sadlier (more commonly known in these parts as a Posh reject) returns to London Road. It would be surprising if many Posh fans knew about him until his celebration and goal against us in last season’s game at The Keepmoat, they certainly know of him now and jeers will be directed towards him all match.
“Avoiding an away trip on Boxing Day is ideal, and hopefully Posh fans will be through the turnstiles in their numbers”
Away from the season prior, and its effect on this one, this could be a big game at the top of League One as both Donny and Posh will be eyeing up promotion. Therefore, in and around a congested fixture list, this match on Boxing Day could prove to be vital. Cast your eyes back to last season’s Boxing Day fixture, and Posh were knee-deep in their miserable form losing 2-0 away to now Championship Barnsley. Avoiding an away trip on Boxing Day is also ideal, and hopefully with a cracker like this in store, Posh fans will be through the turnstiles in their numbers.
Away from dates in December, the first 5 fixtures presented to Posh are indeed tricky some would say. Avoiding the usual Deja-vu scenario of Rochdale away to begin another campaign, Posh have Joey Barton’s Fleetwood to host on August 3rd. This is a tough one for Posh, with Fleetwood signing a former Posh target in Danny Andrew and free agent Josh Morris from Scunthorpe (these signings show Fleetwood mean business, especially in Andrew who has jumped ship from playoff semi-finalists Doncaster). It’ll be tough to gauge where The Cod Army will finish this season, as they could be outside promotion contenders but also mid-table fodder at the same time and so they’ll be an unpredictable entity for Posh to cope with on the opening day.
Likewise, Posh’ first away assessment at Oxford isn’t too dissimilar from Barton’s Fleetwood – Karl Robinson struggling initially with the U’s, before finding that magic formula near the back end of the season to steer away Oxford from relegation troubles. Posh’ third match is a showdown with Suffolk, Ipswich coming to London Road fresh off a pitiful season in the Championship with relegation a certainty for some time. This will be the toughest assessment, not just due to Ipswich’s recent Championship status, but their signings have also been impressive. Tomas Holy starred for Gillingham and is a very smart free transfer, as is James Norwood from Tranmere who has an impressive goal record in the lower reaches of the Football League.
This might, however, be the best time to play Lambert’s Ipswich as this will be a period of acclimatisation to the level and thus Posh will go out of their way to try and upset them (the 7-1 win might occur once more!) The first 5 fixtures conclude with trips to Southend and MK Dons, nearby trips with MK away standing out as a rivalry that was lost when Tisdale’s side were relegated to League 2. Snatching the signing of Regan Poole also, MK will be a tough proposition as they certainly look in better stead than they did when they last played in the third division. With the added drama of a rivalry too, MK away on the 5th match day will be a welcome match to travel to (even if Milton Keynes itself is a soulless place)
“it will be interesting to see what reception Big Steve gets from the away faithful”
On the topic of teams promoted and relegated, Posh play host to Lincoln City on the 12th of October in a local affair (Lincoln boasting a team full of ex Posh personnel, Michael Bostwick the most noticeable former player). The week after, Posh face up to pantomime villain Steve Evans away – it will be interesting to see what reception Big Steve gets from the away faithful, a less than favourable one is predicted and expected as he is bound to make comments in order to rile up his ex-club. Bolton come to London Road in December, with Posh playing both relegated Championship outfits Bolton and Rotherham in the month of December alongside the aforementioned Boxing Day bruiser with Doncaster. December isn’t made any easier with an away trip too to Pompey, with January and February also looking tricky – clashes with Ipswich away, Burton at the Pirelli and Rotherham at home meaning these crunch months will be particularly difficult for Fergie’s men.
However, it could be argued, that the final couple of fixtures are easier to outweigh the slog of fixtures in the winter months. Posh’ final home matches read off as somewhat pleasing on paper – with Blackpool, MK Dons, Shrewsbury and Tranmere making up the final four. But, we do have a late in the fixtures match with Sunderland just like the season gone-by but this time at the Stadium of Light – could this clash with the Black Cats hold the same importance it did this season, but hopefully with the outcome of promotion? Even so, all of this fixture release talk is hype anyway until the proof reveals itself in the pudding of the League One season. Still, with a month or so of quiet, it’s nice to indulge in what could be next season – it’s just nice to see Posh at home on the opening day, on Boxing Day and too to conclude the season in the May of 2020.