A contentious late penalty decision sent Peterborough United spinning to another demoralising League One defeat at AFC Wimbledon tonight (March 12).
Rhys Bennett was adjudged to have fouled home substitute Dylan Connelly after chasing him into the penalty area three minutes from time which led to a red card for the Posh defender.
Referee Ollie Yates, who angered Oxford manager Karl Robinson to the extent he called for the official’s dismissal at the weekend, made a quick decision from a long way back. Video evidence suggested it was a poor call.
After Bennett walked, Joe Piggott sent Conor O’Malley the wrong way from the penalty spot to claim the only goal of the game.
It means back-to-back defeats for Posh against the division’s bottom two, but while they deserved what they got at Bradford on Saturday, this was an unfortunate reverse.
Posh had dominated the opening half an hour of the second half, but couldn’t find a finish against severely limited opposition.
Pre-match Posh manager Darren Ferguson warned his players not to pass up a golden opportunity to reach the play-off places and he geed his side up further by making three changes to his starting line-up.
Out went skipper Alex Woodyard, centre-back Ryan Tafazolli and talisman Lee Tomlin and in came Louis Reed, Bennett and Ivan Toney. The three centre-backs and two wing-backs were retained.
The home side were unchanged for the third game in a row and they started the better forcing a couple of early corners and keeping Posh pinned inside their own half.
Anthony Wordsworth sent an overhead kick over the bar in the first minute before Daniel Lafferty hooked a loose ball clear from close to the goalline.
Posh were showing great patience in their passing and they were able to find Marcus Maddison in space on a regular basis. Maddison was booed as soon as his name was read out before this game, not because he had scored in his last three appearances against the Dons, but because of an over-dramatic fall in this fixture last season.
One Maddison long range shot was diverted goalwards by Matt Godden, but home ‘keeper Aaron Ramsdale saved as he did when Reed’s 25 yard strike at goal was deflected towards the corner of the net. Ramsdale’s huge kicks also caused problems at the other end as Dons appeared to target the right side of the Posh line, an area occupied by Jason Naismith and Joe Ward.
Some quick thinking from Lafferty freed Maddison in the penalty area, but his inviting cross received no takers.
But the best chance of the first half fell to the home side as Anthony Hartigan’s excellent chip found wing-back Steve Seddon racing into the Posh penalty area, but his header was directed straight at O’Malley.
Posh started the second half well and Toney was denied a goal by a fine save from Ramsdale after Godden’s flick sent him into the area. Toney shot early and well, but the goalkeeper palmed it behind.
From the corner Bennett’s header was blocked and scrambled behind for a corner as Naismith tried to bundle the ball over the line.
Maddison was the next to threaten. He jinked into the area, switched the ball onto his left foot, but his shot was parried by Ramsdale.
A Naismith cross was then blasted just wide by Toney and the big striker was frustrated further in the 69th minute when he pounced after Ramsdale spilled Naismith’s shot. An offside flag cut short the celebrations.
Dons were almost celebrating themslves 15 minutes from time when substitute Dylan Connolly curled a beauty onto the crossbar before Posh scrambled the ball clear.
Posh sent on Lee Tomlin with eight minutes to go, but his first involvement was to clear off the goalline from a corner.
But then the match was decided by a huge punt forward which enabled Connolly to race away. Bennett caught up with him, the striker went down and referee Yates made a decision that angered the visiting camp.
Yates went on to cause further irritation by cautioning Reed and Ferguson for dissent.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Jason Naismith, Rhys Bennett, Ben White, Joe Ward, Daniel Lafferty, Louis Reed, Callum Cooke (sub Kyle Dempsey, 77 mins), Marcus Maddison, Ivan Toney, Matt Godden (sub Lee Tomlin, 82 mins).
Unused Substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Kyle Dempsey, Lee Tomlin, Alex Woodyard, Ryan Tafazolli, Matt Stevens, Tyler Denton.
Wimbledon: Aaron Ramsdale, Will Nightingale, Terrell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff (sub Dylan Connelly, 66 mins), Anthony Hartigan (sub Joe McDonnell, 80 mins), Toby Sibbick, Paul Kalambayi, Anthony Wordsworth, Steven Seddon, Michael Folivi (sub James Hanson, 66 mins), Joe Pigott.
Unused substitutes:Tennai Watson, Mitch Pinnock, Andy Barcham, Shane McLaughlin.
Goals: Dons - Piggott (pen, 86 mins).
Sending-off: Posh - Bennett (Denying a goal scoring opportunity).
Cautions: Posh - Maddison (foul), Reed (dissent), Ferguson (manager,
Dons - Sibbick (foul).
Referee: Ollie Yates 7
Attendance: 3,737 (307 Posh).