‘Came of age’, ‘Acquitted himself well’ – We gauge Imps’ fans reactions to 18-y/o’s outing v Posh

Courtesy Graham Burrell

If I’m being honest, this weekend’s fixture isn’t one I’ll look back on fondly. 

I’ve found in recent years that when chatting to opposition fans, usually they tend to call the game how they see it. Only a few, like that awful Stevenage account, are rife with nonsensical abuse and one-sided rhetoric. I try, very hard, to be as objective as possible and issue praise where it’s due to the team we’re playing.

Whilst I have had the pleasure of chatting to some Peterborough fans who had at least some positives to say about our performance, I’ve been hugely dismayed by the number talking about us being long ball spoilers and them being infinitely better. Yes, they were better in the second half but the blinkered view and subsequent arguments I’ve allowed myself to be drawn into has left me quite angry. There has been a level of arrogance that perhaps we’d have seen from Sunderland had they beaten us. Maybe, being a ‘small’ club, we’re going to come up against such attitudes and I’m going to have to grow a pair or as one United States-based Peterborough fan explained, I’m just going to have to ‘hack’ the fact they’re brilliant and we’re not.

Anyway, enough of the negativity. Yes, we lost 2-0 but there were positives to take from the game. One big shout pre-match came with the inclusion of Ellis Chapman. With Joe Morrell off helping Wales to important points against Slovakia and Croatia, we had to find a partner for Michael O’Connor. The obvious choice was Callum Connolly, but instead Michael Appleton went for one of our own; 18-year-old Ellis.

Like Harry Anderson, Ellis seems to have been around for a while now, appearing on a semi-regular basis last season. His spell with Chesterfield had left him with some priceless exposure to senior football, but upon coming back to the side his route to the first team appeared blocked. Our previous manager spoke highly of him but rarely exposed him to the apparent danger of first team football.

If they’re good enough, they’re old enough, surely? I look at Dru Yearwood, the 19-year-old Brentford man who had a full season of football for Southend last time out. He impressed and got a big move and he wasn’t out of his teens; Ellis’ time would have to come otherwise he might get to 21 or 22 and still be classed as ‘having potential’. I suggest that if you’re still heading out on loan at that stage, your potential has gone.

I had been a little critical of Ellis in a podcast the other week; I thought he had a tentative outing against Manchester United. I didn’t see any indication that he’d be around the first team that evening and was surprised this weekend that he got the nod. I’ve said before that fan opinion is largely based on one 90 minute match a week and any preconception we have of a player, whereas the coaches see the players every day. Michael Appleton knows better than me, you and anyone else I care to mention and he made the call.

It seems to have been the correct one. Ellis is widely accepted to have been in our top performers and narrowly missed out to Michael O’Connor for the club’s Twitter feed Man of the Match. I think Thommo gave it to him on the radio and I felt he was our best player too.

The stats stack up nicely as well; 86% passing accuracy going up to 91% for forward passes only. His delivery going forward was actually more accurate that his backward passes and that’s highly unusual. He won 67% of his aerial duels as well as 67% of his defensive duels demonstrating a good all-round performance given that we were under pressure in the second half.

I was interested to know if I’d called the game the same as most fans where Ellis is concerned. What worries me is that having a line of communication with his Dad may make me biased; Darren messages me on occasion and I always fear my impartiality is being clouded. That’s not just with Ellis, it’ with other players as well. My concern is knowing (for instance) I’m interviewing Harry Toffolo later, would I be reticent to criticise his performance from Saturday in an article, or too quick to praise him if he played well? I like to think not, but even so, I wanted to test the water with Ellis.

I threw the question out there; how well did you, Stacey West followers, think he played? The responses are unanimous in him not having a bad game, with plenty of fans seeing the same as I did.

To wrap up the article, a sample of their responses are below.



  1. I think it’s the time for Chapman to begin playing more if he’s really as good as we keep being told. Shane Nicholson and Phil Turner were both first team regulars at his age, although admittedly that wasn’t at League One/Third Division level. He certainly did well on Saturday – at least as well as Connolly would have done if not better.

  2. The border between succes and failure in sport is very often in the head of an athlete…
    Everyone including coaches and other players, is bigging Ellis up and saying he is a big talent so there must be some sort of potential…
    So far he could not show that in competitive games though. Maybe Ellis’ problem lies in his head as well ? And maybe MA knows how to sorted it out ? Hopefully …

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