Peterborough United dropped a place to sixth after losing for the first time in 12 competitive matches at League One promotion rivals Barnsley today (December 26).
Posh could have few complaints regarding the scoreline based on the run of play as Barnsley were the superior side throughout, but they had every justification, apparently, to rage at referee Carl Boyeson and one assistant referee in particular.
Posh felt they should have had a penalty in the eighth minute for a trip on Mark O’Hara with the score still goalless and they were furious when Ivan Toney was cautioned for simulation 20 minutes from time as it appeared he had been fouled by Kenny Dougall when through on goal.
Boyeson consulted with his assistant before showing a yellow card to Toney, much to the suprise of the stadium.
Posh boss Steve Evans stormed onto the pitch at full-time, but shook hands with Boyeson, shook his head and stormed off again.
Barnsley won the game with goals from Alex Mowatt on 24 minutes and a superb strike from Cauley Woodrow three minutes into the second half.
The two team changes made by Posh came as no surprise as centre-back Ryan Tafazolli and central midfielder Mark O’Hara were recalled for Siriki Dembele and Louis Reed.
But the change in formation to 3-4-1-2 was unexpected. If the switch was made to frustrate the free flowing football Barnsley delivered at the ABAX Stadium in October it worked for the first-half. It didn’t lead to any greater fluency going forward though, although Posh should have reached half-time lever rather than behind.
One good scoring chance apiece was created with Mowatt tapping home from close range for the home side in the 24th minute, while Matt Godden met Marcus Maddison’s peach of a right-foot cross with his head, but steered his effort wide 10 minutes before the break.
Otherwise the game was a congested midfield mess with Barnsley occasionally putting together some good passing moves before crossing unsuccessfuly into three centre-backs (they were missing powerful centre-foward Kieffer Moore) and Posh requiring set-pieces to get the ball into the home area. It was obvious why ‘The Tykes’ have conceded just seven home goals this season.
Marcus Maddison was given a free role behind Toney and Godden and looked sharp whenever he received the ball. Sadly that didn’t happen enough after Maddison sent a dipping volley over the bar in the early stages.
Evans predictably led calls for a Posh penalty early on after O’Hara went down in the area after robbing a defender.
Barnsley started the second-half superbly and Woodrow could have had a hat-trick in the opening five minutes.
He shot wide after a terrific burst forward from Brad Potts before curling home a beauty from 25 yards into the top corner in the 48th minute.
Moments later he pounced on a Tafazolli clearance before forcing a fine save by Conor O’Malley.
Posh missed a great chance to get back into the game in the 53rd minute when Toney fed Godden who hit his shot well, but straight at home ‘keeper Adam Davies who saved.
Posh made a double substitution in the 56th minute with Siriki Dembele and Jason Cummings replacing Colin Daniel and Godden as Posh reverted to their more familiar 4-4-2 formation.
Barnsley still looked the more likely side and the last chance for Posh disappeared midway through the second-half when Boyeson failed to reduce the home side to 10 men.
The way the game had been played, and with Barnsley’s awesome home record, it might not have mattered.
O’Malley was the only ‘keeper called into action late on as he made a fine sliding save to thwart Cameron McGeehan.
Doncaster’s defeat at Fleetwood means Posh hang onto the final League One play-off spot ahead of Saturday’s trip to Accrington Stanley.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Jason Naismith (sub Darren Lyon, 68 mins), Colin Daniel (sub Siriki Dembele, 56 mins), Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara, Marcus Maddison, Joe Ward, Matt Godden (sub Jason Cummings, 56 mins), Ivan Toney.
Unused substitutes: Aaron Chapman, Louis Reed, George Cooper, Matt Stevens.
Barnsley: Adam Davies, Kenny Dougall (sub, Victor Adeboyejo, 86 mins), Ethan Pinnock, Liam Lindsay, Dimitri Cavare, Cameron McGeehan, Mike Bahre (sub Mamadou Thiem, 78 mins), Brad Potts (sub Jacob Brown, 73 mins), Daniel Pinillos, Alex Mowatt, Cauley Woodrow.
Substitutes: Jake Greatorex, Ryan Hedges, George Moncur, Adam Jackson.
Goals: Barnsley - Mowatt (24 mins), Woodrow (49 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Toney (simulation).
Barnsley - Dougall (foul).
Referee: Carl Boyeson 5.
Attendance: 12,843 (688 Posh).