PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2, DONCASTER ROVERS 2: Posh blow a great chance to reach the Championship
Peterborough United threw away a golden chance of promotion to the Championship at the Weston Homes Stadium tonight (April 27).
Needing a win to go up against a Doncaster team totally out of form Posh stormed into a 2-0 lead after just 24 minutes through goals from Joe Ward and Sammie Szmodics and looked set to run up a cricket score, but they switched off and allowed the visitors to pull a goal back before the break.
The second-half was a much more even affair, but Doncaster grabbed the only goal on the hour mark with both teams missing chances to grab a winner.
For Posh the ramifications are much more serious of course. They need just a home point to go up on Saturday, but the opponents are Lincoln City, the only team who can pip them to second place.
Posh made one change to the side that started at Charlton with Louis Reed replacing Ethan Hamilton in the middle of the park. Doncaster were affected by Covid in the build-up and selected one-time Posh loanee Omar Bogle up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
If Posh could have hand-picked opponents to play at this stage of the season, Doncaster would have been in the top three. Nothing to play for and having picked up just five points from their previous 12 matches the visitors were surely there for the taking by a team with a big prize in sight.
And for most of the first-half that was indeed the case. Doncaster offered plenty of space for the Posh forwards to work their magic.
Ward’s fifth minute shot was deflected and saved, but the wide man was on hand to accept Nathan Thompson’s pass five minutes later and drilled a left-foot shot past Louis Jones in the Doncaster goal.
Mark Beevers was soon having to hook an Andy Butler header from a corner off the line, but Posh were quick to regain control.
A brilliant Siriki Dembele dribble led to a great chance for Jonson Clarke-Harris, but his shot was headed off the line by player-boss Butler.
Clarke-Harris then played Ward through on goal, but his shot flew wide and high.
Posh always looked a threat, but their passing became sloppy with Ward particularly wasteful and Doncaster managed to pull a goal back eight minutes before the break when top scorer Fejiri Okenabirhie fired superbly into the corner from 20 yards after the hosts fell asleep at a throw-in.
Doncaster clearly had players comfortable on the ball, but they were weak defensively. Louis Reed forced a fine save from Jones before Ward completed a mixed half by rattling the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.
Doncaster made a half-time substitute and looked sharper for bringing on Taylor Richards for Josh Sims.
Ward was first to threaten though when sending a second shot on to the crossbar after a great chipped pass by Thompson.
But the visitors were enjoying plenty of possession and in winger Jason Lokilo they had an exciting talent.
And on the hour mark he turned Dan Butler inside out before crossing for Richards to convert from close range.
It almost got quickly worse as Lokilo pounced on an Okenebirhe flick and bore down on goal, but Bursik rushed out well to save.
Posh rallied and Ward presented Clarke-Harris with a great shooting chance, but League One’s top scorer inexplicably turned inside leading to a Szmodics shot clearing the crossbar.
Butler then saw a shot well blocked with appeals for a handball ignored by referee Scott Oldham.
The ball then dropped to captain Beevers five yards from goal, but his fierce shot was beaten away by Jones.
It was far from one way traffic though and Bursik again came to the rescue to beat away a Richards strike.
Five minutes from time Posh won a free-kick, but Ward’s strike was well saved by Jones.
It was breathless, end-to-end stuff, but no winning goal arrived. The tension and pressure around London Road will remain for another few days as a result.
Posh: Josef Bursik, Dan Butlern (sub Harrison Burrows, 80 mins), Mark Beevers, Frankie Kent, Nathan Thompson, Joe Ward, Louis Reed (sub Ethan Hamilton, 80 mins), Jack Taylor, Siriki Dembele, Sammie Szmodics, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Unused subs: Dan Gyollai, Niall Mason, Mo Eisa, Ricky-Jade Jones, Idris Kanu,
Doncaster: Louie Jones, Reece James, Tom Anderson, Andy Butler, Joe Wright, Matt Smith, Scott Robertson, Brandon Horton, Jason Lokilo, Omar Bogle (sub Tyreece John-Jules, 63 mins), Fejiri Okenabirhie, Josh Sims (sub Taylor Richards, 46 mins).
Unused subs: Ben Bottomley, John Bostock, Danny Amos AJ Greaves, Ben Blythe
Goals: Posh - Ward (10 mins), Szmodics (24 mins).
Doncaster - Okenabirhe (38 mins), Richards (60 mins).
Cautions: Doncaster - Butler (foul), Smith (foul), Lokilo (simulation)
Posh - Reed (unsportsmanlike conduct), Kent (foul).
Doncaster - Butler (foul), Smith (foul).
Referee: Scott Oldham 8