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Lee Tomlin – One Positive From A Lot Of Negatives

If there was one positive to take from Tuesday evening’s fixture against Leyton Orient, and let’s face it there weren’t many, it was the performance of Lee Tomlin. Tomlin, filling in for the much revered Craig Mackail-Smith, performed to a level that few would have expected. Providing a link between the attack and midfield he excelled, showing some wonderful technical ability as well as pace and passion.

Tomlin’s arrival from Rushden was met with a mixed reaction. It was another non-league hopeful trying to make his name at a higher level. Granted, it had been successful before, Mackail-Smith, McLean and Boyd were all snapped up in this manner, but there were a far bigger list of failures. Rendell, Howe, Hatch, Green, remember Craig Braham-Barrett? Posh’s ambitions were higher this year and the signings were, reputation wise, better, more experienced stars designed to win the League One title. Tomlin was expected to be no more than a squad player; most thought he would play the occasional game, or make an appearance from the subs bench.

Making his debut against Bristol Rovers, off the bench, Tomlin’s first impression could hardly have been better. He took the ball down and rounded two players before unleashing an emphatic, long-range, drive just over the bar. It took London Road by surprise. No-one was expecting that from a player that resembled an over-weight central midfielder, playing for the local pub team after a few pints, not that it stopped John Parkin forging a good career for himself.

His first start came against Oldham, a come-back victory where Posh won 5-2, and it was evident to see his craft. His main attributes come to fruition when he is in possession. A fantastic passer and dribbler, Tomlin is fast becoming a crowd favourite at Posh and another player who, although it is still early days, can be placed into the successful category in the non-league signings. It wasn’t long before his first goal came either. A long-range, driven, shot grabbed Posh a point against an Exeter.

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For all that is good about him there are still weaknesses. His temperament still needs working on, perhaps eager to impress, he has got involved in needless scraps against Oldham and Swansea, and was red carded in Posh’s 2-0 loss against Hartlepool, for a late, over the top, stamp. However, his clear desire and passion to succeed surpasses this.

Tomlin can play on either the left or the right hand side of midfield although, at Rushden, we were told that his best role would be in the striking positions. Of course, with Mackail-Smith and McLean upfront it is hard to break up the “Mac-Attack” and Tomlin was made to play in a less favoured right wing position, which, at times, exposed his weaknesses defensively. His chance, in his most natural position, came against Leyton Orient – when Mackail-Smith was suspended – and he could have done little more. As energetic and creative as anyone on the pitch Tomlin gained a deserved man-of-the-match award despite, McLean, his strike partner’s two goals. His performance was reminiscent of an on-form George Boyd – who is currently a shadow of his former self – and it is not an exaggeration to suggest that he is starting to become the squad’s most valuable player.

He is still raw in terms of talent though. And his inexperience shows, at times. But what Posh have in Lee Tomlin is something rare. A player that has adapted to life in League One with ease. A player who can look comfortable in possession. A good passer, dribbler and with a vicious long-range shot, Tomlin is beginning to make a name for himself. Suggestions are starting to arise that he could go on to be a better player than Boyd, a club legend, and, although it may be a little too early to say he can surpass the magic of the “White Pele”, there is something about Tomlin that makes fans sit up and take notice. His start to Posh has been an excellent one and, with a track record of nurturing lower division talent, Peterborough United may have unearthed another non-league gem.

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