Peterborough United moved to within two points of top spot in League One after a terrific 2-1 win at Burton Albion today (October 27).
Goals on 30 minutes from Joe Ward and 58 minutes from Siriki Dembele gave Posh a 2-0 lead, but Burton pulled a goal back on the hour mark to set up a frantic final half an hour.
But Posh held firm against a wave of home attacks to close the gap on leaders Portsmouth who were held to a 1-1 draw at Accrington.
Posh manager Steve Evans made three changes to a winning side as top scorer Matt Godden and full-backs Jason Naismith and Tyler Denton replaced Jamie Walker, Marcus Maddison and Colin Daniel from the side that beat Fleetwood last Tuesday.
Daniel was suspended enabling Leeds loanee Denton to make his Football League debut for the club. Denton hadn’t appeared in the League since playing for Port Vale in League Two last season.
It was back to the 4-4-2 formation that has served Posh well away from home this season. Understandably so, although a swirling wind on a ground with litle protection from the elements presumably made manager Steve Evans consider the powerful midfield attributes of Mark O’Hara. Louis Reed’s man-of-the-match award from the Fleetwood meant his claim to start was stronger.
Posh started brightly. They had a size advantage at set pieces which led to early half-chances for centre-backs Rhys Bennett and Ryan Tafazolli which were spurned.
It was a set-piece which delivered Burton’s first chance which Devante Cole volleyed well over.
Jake Hesketh was next to take aim and miss the target for the home side before Godden had a goal chalked off for the softest of fouls on his marker. Godden’s volley was struck firmly and accurately, but the referee’s whistle had already blown.
But two minutes later Posh were able to celebrate as Ward let fly from 25 yards with his weaker left-foot. It was well struck, but a nick off a defender certainly helped it into the top corner.
Posh noticably sat deeper after the goal which enabled Burton to boss the ball.
Their best chance to equalise fell to Stephen Quinn after a fine pass from John Brayford, but he shot straight at Chapman.
Hesketh, Cole and Jamie Allen all registered shots on target before the break, but none troubled Chapman.
Posh started the second half well with Denton, who enjoyed an excellent game, sending Dembele away down the left. The winger cut inside and hit the outside of the post from 20 yards, but he wasn’t to be denied for long.
Ward was the creator with a fine defensive interception and a perfectly timed pass which found Dembele racing clear. The 21 year-old went round the Burton ‘keeper before slotting into an empty net on 58 minutes.
But Posh couldn’t maintain what should have been a comfortable lead for more than two minutes.
Ross Boyce was the only player on either side to stay awake as the ball drifted towards the Posh goalline. He passed it back to midfielder Allan who slammed into the roof of the net.
And that was the signal for Burton to dominate against a Posh side who started to defend far too deep again.
Thankfully the Posh back four, superbly supported by central midfielders Alex Woodyard and Louis Reed, defended impressively, while Chapman made a handful of fine saves.
David Templeman and Boyce were denied by Chapman in quick succession, before a low cross from Scott Fraser somehow evaded everyone as it travalled across the six yard line.
Six minutes of added time were added before Posh could celebrate a seventh win in eight League One away games. That’s automatic promotion form.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Tyler Denton, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Louis Reed, Siriki Dembele (sub Mark O’Hara, 90 + 1 min), Joe Ward, Ivan Toney (sub Jason Cummings, 87 mins), Matt Godden (sub Jamie Walker, 65 mins).
Unused substitutes: Marcus Maddison, Mark Tyler, Darren Lyon, George Cooper.
Burton: Bradley Collins, John Brayford, Jamie Allen, Kyle McFadzean, Reece Hutchinson (sub scott Fraser, 70 mins), Stephen Quinn, Will Miller (sub David Templeton, 63 mins), Jake Hesketh (sub Ben Fox, 83 mins), Liam Boyce, Devante Cole, Lucas Akins.
Unused substitutes: Dimitar Evtimov, Jake Buxton, Joe Sbarra, Elliott Hodge.
Goals: Posh - Ward (30 mins), Dembele (58 mins).
Burton - Allen (60 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Bennett (delaying the restart), Chapman (delaying the restart).
Burton - McFadzean (foul).
Referee: Graham Salisbury 7
Attendance: 3,600 (approx 1,050 Posh).
Alan Swann was at the match for the Peterborough Telegraph so check back for match reaction.
Also follow @PTAlanSwann on Twitter for live match updates.