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Who makes Paolo's top five Posh performers of the season?

This current crop of players have become a notable part of Peterborough United’s history, as they sealed the club’s return to the Championship for the first time in eight years.
It was a team effort - but some players shone. Who makes Paolo's top five Posh performers of the season?

Darren Ferguson’s side were electric going forward all season, finishing as League One’s highest goal-scorers with 83 goals- but crucial defensive players also played a crucial role in helping the club seal an automatic promotion spot back to the second tier.

Although, of course, it was a collective effort from the players, staff and management, there were some standout performers of the season. Here are our five: 

5. Christy Pym

This is a player that will cause a debate on whether he should be on the list, especially in the final few weeks of the season when some errors started to creep in.

However, we shouldn’t forget some of the terrific saves he produced throughout the campaign. Remember that one away to Plymouth Argyle when a six-yard header was superbly saved by Pym? It came at a time when Posh was just one-nil up and a goal to the visitors could have changed everything.

Across the whole division, Pym had the second-highest save percentage with 75.8%. Sure, a few mistakes in the final few games of the season stick in the mind, but he played a vital role in helping Posh keep a good defensive record as they sealed promotion.

4. Joe Ward

Wardy stepped up a notch this season, crucially becoming Posh’s main creative outlet and producing moments of magic in tight encounters.

The 25-year-old enjoyed one of his best seasons to date, featuring in 37 games in League One and involved in 18 goals (five goals and 13 assists). Ward was the club’s highest assist-maker, and the division’s second-highest after Aiden McGeady nicked ahead with 14.

His crossing provided nightmares for defenders but was heaven for Jonson Clarke-Harris, who met many of the delightful crosses and converted them to goals. 

He played a crucial role in helping the team get forward and creating chances - without him, you do wonder whether Posh could have challenged for an automatic spot.

3. Nathan Thompson

He was one of the most experienced players in the Posh camp at the beginning of the season, which was evident throughout the campaign.

Thompson featured in 39 League One games this season, the eighth-highest in the squad, and was a key player in Ferguson’s back-three, producing the highest number of tackles per game (2.4) and 1.7 clearances per game, the fourth-highest compared his fellow team-mates.

The 30-year-old wasn’t perfect and made a few errors along the way, including that penalty for Lincoln City in that six-goal thriller. Yet, he was a crucial player of a three-man defence, and Posh struggled whenever he wasn’t involved, highlighting his importance.

2. Sammie Szmodics

If the season had ended after the first 18 games - the entire 2020 chunk - it would be unthinkable to include Szmodics as one of the players of the season. But here we are, looking over the last 28, seeing evidence for why we shouldn't give up on players too easily.

As the 2021 games began, the midfielder was completely new; looked refreshed and was back to the player that Posh supporters adored in his loan spell from the previous season. In 28 games, Szmodics scored 14 goals, one goal every two games, and provided six assists, forming a deadly partnership alongside Siriki Dembele and Clarke-Harris.

One area of his game that goes unnoticed is the willingness to press from attack and give defenders no time on the ball, which presented Posh with a few golden opportunities.

Szmodics’ disappointing first half of the season didn’t affect him too much - just got him to work harder to rediscover his excellent form.

1. Jonson Clarke-Harris

Who else? The top performer of the season had to be marksman Clarke-Harris.

The 26-year-old exceeded all expectations, after replacing fan favourite Ivan Toney, and went onto become not only Posh’s player of the season, but League One’s.

Clarke-Harris notched in 31 goals, six more than any other player in the division, and was no one-trick pony. He netted from free-kicks, the edge of the box, or just simple tap-ins. He was everywhere and could score from anywhere.

Not only was Clarke-Harris a deadly finisher, but his hold-up play allowed Dembele and Szmodics to make runs off him and split defences apart, so he wasn’t just a goalscorer.

Controversial assumption, but does anyone think that without his goals Posh would have been close to the play-offs, let alone automatic promotion? The pressure Clarke-Harris took on his shoulders at the start of the season just makes those top performances week-in, week-out even sweeter. This is why he’s my player of the season.

If I could choose one moment to sum up his season, it would be that 90+5th minute penalty against Lincoln City. The man was calm, composed whilst under pressure, didn't take a risk, just secured the point.

Why not comment below with who you think were the top five performers of the season?