Meet Town's opposition: Szmodics poised to haunt Town yet again
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Sammie Szmodics, who played just down the road from Ipswich Town at near neighbours Colchester United, will be one to watch at Portman Road this weekend.
Szmodics is bang in form, after a goal drought, bagging a brace in each of Posh's last two outings to seal home wins over MK Dons (3-0) and Charlton Athletic (2-1).
The 25-year-old had not scored a league goal since last September, but will be champing at the bit to deliver more knock-out blows in Suffolk this weekend.
And Town will know what to expect, having been on the wrong end of a Szmodics brace from their last meeting, which ended in a 4-1 win for Posh at Portman Road on February 1, 2020.
Town have been linked with Szmodics in the past, both before he eventually left the U's in the summer of 2019, for Bristol City, and also during his time at Ashton Gate.
The free-scoring attacking midfielder, who was at Colchester from the age of seven, netted 38 goals in 162 appearances for the Essex club. He moved to Peterborough from Bristol City in a deal believed to be worth in excess of £1 million.
Szmodics will certainly be a big danger to Paul Lambert's men, especially now that he has ended a lean spell of 16 games without a goal with a dazzling last couple of displays, helping to lift Posh back up to fifth in the League One table.
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One of the reasons that Peterborough are pushing for promotion again, during what is their ninth consecutive year in League One, is the form of Siriki Dembele.
The 24-year-old attacker is hot property and has been attracting the attention of a host of clubs, with the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Wolves and Nottingham Forest all having been linked.
Ivory Coast-born Dembele, who has scored seven goals this term, handed in a transfer request this month, although co-owner Darragh MacAnthony has confirmed that the club would only allow their speedy front-runner to leave in a multi-million pound package.
Dembele scored the third goal in Posh's 4-1 win at Portman Road from just under a year ago.
While Posh have been supreme on home turf, winning eight of their 10 league games at London Road, they have been far from convincing on their travels.
Darren Ferguson's men have accumulated 25 points from a possible 30 at home, suffering just one defeat at the hands of visiting Blackpool last November. It is the best home record in League One.
Yet on the road, they have failed to win in nearly three months, a lean spell that has seen them take just two points from their last five away outings and contributed to their current standing outside the top two automatic promotion slots.
A fruitful October yielded fine away wins at Northampton, Wigan Athletic and Hull City, within the space of 14 days, and this was followed by a 2-0 success at Bristol Rovers at the start of November to make it four straight away wins in 24 days.
But it's been a struggle since then. The fact that they remain just two points off the top two, and are four points and three places better off than Town, is thanks to their home comforts.
Jonson Clarke-Harris cannot stop scoring this season.
He currently tops the charts with 13 league goals, and 14 in all competitions, level with Plymouth Argyle's Luke Jephcott, and is enjoying a current run of eight goals in his last nine games.
That goal feast included a hat-trick inside 22 minutes of a 4-1 thrashing of Rochdale.
Clarke-Harris has simply carried on where he left off last season, when he banged home 16 goals in 32 appearances for previous club Bristol Rovers to help steer them away from the third tier relegation mire.
The 26-year-old signed for Posh in a four-year deal last summer, to start a second spell at the Cambridgeshire club (he was briefly on their books as a teenager), and he has not looked back since.
Town have not beaten Peterborough in their last five meetings, although four of these did end in draws.
You have to go back to March, 2002, to find the last time Town beat Peterborough, courtesy of an 85th minute winner from Aaron Cresswell in a 3-2 home victory. Grant Leadbitter and Daryl Murphy were also on target that day for Paul Jewell's side.
That at least gained partial revenge for the 7-1 trouncing suffered at London Road from the previous August.
WORDS FROM THE BOSS
Posh manager Darren Ferguson, in his pre-match build-up, insisted: "This is not the time to ease up. This is the time to put our foot down and use the momentum we have.
“Obviously it’s a tough game for us, but it’s a game to look forward to.
"Ipswich is a lovely club. It’s a great stadium and the pitch is good. They have an experienced manager, they have good players back from injury and they have signed a couple of good attacking players this week.
"We will be facing a stronger Ipswich side than the one we would have faced at our place in December so it will be a very hard fixture."