MATCH REPORT: Oxford 2-1 Posh: Late penalty sends visitors home empty handed
A stoppage time penalty from Chris Maguire sealed Peterborough United's second defeat of the season.
Jack Baldwin was sent off after fouling Maguire who got up to score the spot kick past Ben Alnwick.
It ended an exciting second-half which had seen Wes Thomas open the scoring for Oxford inside 15 seconds, before Tom Nichols showed great composure to fire in his fourth goal of the season.
Posh had obliterated Millwall in the first-half on Tuesday but were a lot slower out of the blocks at the Kassam Stadium.
The home side attacked well down the left and caused a few problems when they crossed the ball to physical strikers Thomas and Kane Hemmings, but Alnwick was never tested in the Posh goal.
Captain Chris Forrester was excellent in midfield and had one shot blocked and another caught by home ‘keeper Simon Eastwood, while Gwion Edwards was busy down both flanks and Andrew Hughes a threat from left-back.
The man who was centre of attention was referee Seb Stockbridge who was happy to get his yellow card out at will. Edwards and Baldwin for Posh, and Liam Sercombe and Joe Skarz for the U’s, were all in the referee’s notebook by half-time.
As was Forrester, who controlled a ball on his chest as he ran into right-hand side of the area and fell under pressure from a defender.
The crowd had been baiting ref Stockbridge all half, but there were cheers when he blew his whistle and pointed his arm away from the Oxford goal, before booking Forrester.
Moments earlier Posh were more vocal in their shouts for a penalty when Edwards was hauled down by Cheyenne Dunkley. The players pleaded for a spot kick but instead a free-kick was given which Paul Taylor smashed at Oxford debutant Phil Edwards, leaving him on the floor and requiring treatment.
Posh boss Grant McCann had named an unchanged side for the match, but his half-time team talk didn’t have the desired effect as within 15 seconds of the restart, Thomas was left with space inside the area to hit a shot which deflected past Alnwick and into the net.
The goal rattled Posh who saw John Lundstram twice fire shots which missed the target, the first after Jermaine Anderson had lost the ball.
However, the midfielder nearly brought the visitors level but he was denied at close range by Eastwood after taking Edwards’ excellent pass into his path.
Taylor’s great skills then saw him find space in the area and square the ball to Nichols. The striker had been quiet all game but had the composure to jink past Eastwood and fire into the roof of the net.
With the players still celebrating Forrester, who had been talked to by the referee, was replaced by Leo Da Silva Lopes.
The match ebbed and flowed superbly for the rest of the match, and after a flurry of corners Dunkley appeared to have headed the home side back in the leader, but the effort was blocked and, after a scramble, a foul was given against Oxford.
The U’s continued to press but were nearly hit with the ultimate sucker-punch a few minutes from the end when Anderson crossed and Josh Ruffels miscued the ball towards his own goal, but Eastwood did brilliantly to claw the ball back.
Posh twice squandered good chances to win the match when substitute Adil Nabi ran into a defender when he should have shot, while Edwards fired a cross over with Nabi in space.
Alnwick also spilled a shot, but he was left with much more to do when Ryan Taylor flicked on to Maguire who was clearly brought down by Baldwin with just a minute left of the four minutes of added time.
The defender received a second yellow card and his marching orders and Maguire stepped up to bury the spot kick into the corner to the jubilation of the home fans who celebrated their first league win since promotion.
Posh: Ben Alnwick, Michael Smith, Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Andrew Hughes, Marcus Maddison (sub Adil Nabi, 73 minutes), Chris Forrester (sub Leo Da Silva Lopex, 62 minutes), Jermaine Anderson, Gwion Edwards, Tom Nichols, Paul Taylor (sub Shaquile Coulthirst, 78 minutes).
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Ricardo Almeida Santos, Hayden White, Joe Gormley.
Oxford: Simon Eastwood, Phil Edwards, Cheyenne Dunkley, Josh Ruffels, Joe Skarz, Alex MacDonald (sub Tyler Roberts, 68 minutes), Liam Sercombe, John Lundstram, Chris Maguire, Wes Thomas (sub Dan Crowley, 81 minutes), Kane Hemmings (sub Ryan Taylor, 77 minutes).
Unused substitutes: Benji Buchel, Aaron Martin, Joe Rothwell, Sam Long.
Goals: Posh - Nichols (62). Oxford - Thomas (46), Maguire (penalty, 93)
Red cards: Baldwin (two yellows).
Cautions: Posh - Edwards (foul), Forrester, (simulation), Da Silva Lopes (foul). Oxford - Sercombe (foul), Skarz (foul), Maguire (foul).
Referee: Seb Stockbridge 6.
Attendance: 7,500 (Posh 798).