Peterborough United manager Steve Evans insists the door to promotion from League One is still ajar despite a demoralising home defeat to relegation-threatened Rochdale today (April 14).
Posh went down 1-0 at the ABAX Stadium to a first-half Ian Henderson goal. The Dale skipper was sent off early in the second-half for a terrible challenge on Gwion Edwards, but Posh couldn’t break down a stubbon defence despite creating several decent scoring opportunities.
And for the second Saturday in a row Evans was left fuming by a refereeing decision as a late Gwion Edwards header was, apparently, incorrectly ruled out for offside by an assistant referee.
A seventh home defeat of the season has left Posh three points and three places off the play-off positions ahead of Thursday’s (April 19) daunting trip to automatic promotion favourites Blackburn. Three of Posh’s four remaining games are away from home with the other two, at Shrewsbury and Portsmouth, also tough on paper.
“We’re not out of this race,” a defiant Evans said. “What you do when you are down is get into the trenches and battle even harder.
“Of course our remaining games are hard, but we have to find a way to pick up a win like Rochdale did today. Not for a long time have I seen one of my sides produce such a dominant second-half display as they did today.
“We didn’t fail because of our passing and we didn’t fail because of failing to create enough chances. We failed because we weren’t good enough in front of goal. We’ve made their goalkeeper make several fine saves, but players I wouldn’t expect to miss, have missed some gilt-edged scoring opportunities. If some of the chances had fallen to Jack Marriott we would have won comfortably. On another day we could have scored seven or eight, but we’ve been raided by blokes with balaclavas today. Rochdale have ridden their luck.
“I couldn’t have asked the players to work any harder though. They gave everything, but it wasn’t our day. We picked a team we felt would dominate the ball, but Rochdale played their way of hitting the ball at big Calvin Andrew and playing off him and they scored the crucial goal.
“But for the second Saturday in a row we’ve been ‘done’ by a poor decision from an assistant referee. I accepted the offside flag against Gwion at the time, but my analyst couldn’t wait to show me the video after the game to show me what a poor decision it was.
“They had a man rightly sent off, but Andrew could also have gone for a scissor kick on Danny Lloyd late on. I have questioned why we keep getting rookie referees, but the ‘Head of Referees’ tells me that’s what happens sometimes! The decision to rule the goal out today was tough to take after the debacle at Plymouth.
“But we will pick ourselves up and go again. There are four games to go. We are three points adrift and we have the best goal difference so we will keep working. Other results today weren’t that bad.
“It was a tough ask to make the play-offs when I got here and it’s still a tough ask. If we’d been here all season we might have a different team and a different position right now.
“If we make the play-offs now we will have done it the ‘Posh’ way. This club likes to make things difficult.”
Centre-back Ryan Tafazolli (hamstring) and attacking midfielder Marcus Maddison (sprained ankle) missed today’s match, but not been ruled of the televised trip to Ewood Park. Evans insists on-loan striker Omar Bogle has a groin injury.
Central defender Steven Taylor can play at Blackburn. He was suspended today.
Play-off rivals Plymouth and Portsmouth fought out a 0-0 draw at Home Park today. Scunthorpe moved back into the top six after winning at Charlton.