A second-half penalty sent Peterborough United spinning to defeat in their League One match at Millwall tonight (February 28).
Lee Gregory saw two injury time penalties saved at the weekend, but held his nerve at the New Den to drill his 54th minute opportunity wide of Posh ‘keeper Luke McGee.
And that was always likely to be enough in a poor quality game on a dreadful playing surface.
Posh lacked the quality or aggression to make inroads on a defence that has now kept nine clean sheets in a row.
Unsurprisingly Posh made just one forced change to their starting line-up as Anthony Grant returned to midfield enabling Michael Bostwick to replace the suspended Jack Baldwin at the heart of the defence.
Posh actually needed a seven-goal win to reach the top six tonight, but Milwall’s proud defensive record and that uneven pitch made that a non-starter.
Indeed both sides found life difficult in a poor opening 45 minutes which featured just one save of note and that from a Marcus Maddison free kick from 20 yards that home ‘keeper Tom King beat away with conviction.
Paul Taylor was very lively for Posh without his passing accuracy ever threatening to match his dribbling skills. Until the 41st minute when a superb pass inside the full-back freed Maddison, but his cross was disappointingly placed out of the reach of the waiting Leo Da Silva Lopes.
Millwall had more possession, but their tempo was slow and all high balls into the Posh penalty area were well dealt with by Ryan Tafazolli, Bostwick and Andrew Hughes.
Only when Shaun Williams volleyed fiercely across his six yard box did Posh ‘keeper Luke McGee suffer an anxious moment.
The second half started in a similar pattern, but the home side took the lead nine minutes in, on the breakaway from the first Posh corner of the match.
Grant tracked Lee Gregory all the way to the penalty area and was then adjudged to have nudged him in the back. Protests that he had been fouled first were ignored by referee Kevin Johnson who had kept well up with play.
Posh responded well with Maddison striking another decent free kick which King grabbed after a slight juggle.
But aside from a cross from substitute Craig Mackail-Smith that was well defended at the far post, Posh never looked likely to equalise.
Too many shots were taken from outside the area and none managed to get as far as King in the home goal.
Posh now head to another play-off contender Bradford City, five points outside the top six with games running out.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Smith (sub Lee Angol, 87 mins), Andrew Hughes, Michael Bostwick, Ryan Tafazolli, Anthony Grant (sub Chris Forrester, 75 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes (sub Craig Mackail-Smith, 66 mins), Brad Inman, Marcus Maddison, Paul Taylor, Tom Nichols. Unused substitutes: Junior Morias, Martin Samuelsen, Mark Tyler, Jerome Binnom-Williams.
Millwall: Tom King, Shaun Cummings, Tony Craig, Byron Webster, Jake Cooper, Shaun Williams, Ben Thompson (sub Shaun Hutchinson, 90 mins), Shane Ferguson, Fred Onyedimna, Lee Gregory (for Calum Butcher, 88 mins), Harry Smith (sub Aiden O’Brien, 66 mins). Unused substitutes: Harry Girling, David Worrall, Mahlon Romeo, Jimmy Abdou.
Goal: Millwall - Gregory (pen, 54 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Grant (foul), Maddison (persistent infringements), Inman (foul).
Millwall - Ferguson (foul).
Referee: Kevin Johnson 7
Attendance: 8,032 (303)