Peterborough United put an end-of-season smile back on fans’ faces as they beat Bristol Rovers 4-2 in their final League One match of the season at the ABAX Stadium today (April 22).
It was an impressive win against a side who still had a chance of reaching the end-of-season play-offs, but two goals from Leo Da Silva Lopes and others from Marcus Maddison and Craig Mackail-Smith delivered an emphatic home win.
Rovers substitute Rory Gaffney scored twice late on to bring respectability to the final scoreline.
Posh goalkeeper Luke McGee saved an Ellis Harrison penalty when the score was ws 1-0.
McCann continued his experiments towards next season by dropping regular right-back Michael Smith, recalling central defender Jack Baldwin and lining up in a 3-5-2 formation with Leo Da Silva Lopes and Lewis Freestone as wing-backs.
Perhaps understandably Posh looked disorganised in the opening stages as Rovers’ very attacking line-up sought the win they needed to keep their season alive.
But Posh blocked shots and defended corners before breaking out to open the scoring in the 13th minute as Da Silva Lopes struck from the edge of the penalty area, shooting across visiting ‘keeper Joe Lumley after accepting a pass from Tom Nichols in the 13th minute. It was the first Football League goal of the teenager’s career and quite possibly boosted his club transfer valuation up by another million.
But Da Silva Lopes almost became the villain when bundling Byron Moore over in the area on 26 minutes. Fortunately McGee made his fourth penalty save of the season to thwart Harrison from the spot.
And then Posh started to enjoy the extra space in midfield. Captain Chris Forrester delivered his perkiest display since Stamford Bridge and tested Lumley with a couple of long range efforts.
But it was another assist from Nichols which led to a second goal for Posh on the half hour. A long pass from the Posh striker wasn’t dealt with by Rovers’ centre-back Ryan Sweeney enabling Marcus Maddison to pounce and expertly lob Lumley.
The end-to-end nature of the contest continued right until the interval with Billy Bodin heading against the post in the 45th minute.
It was a similar story after the break, but Posh possessed the greater clinicality, to use a Graham Westley term.
Da Silva Lopes’ second goal on 56 minutes was fortunate as a weak-looking cross somehow slithered between Lumley’s legs and over the line, but goal number four was a delight as Maddison’s peach of a pass was expertly controlled by Mackail-Smith before he powered home from close range.
Maddison and Mackail-Smith left the game soon afterwards to ovations from home fans who may see neither in a Posh shirt at the ABAX Stadium again.
Rovers claimed a consolation goal six minutes from the end when Rory Gaffney slammed home from 20 yards. Gaffney then produced a fine finish in injury time to complete the scoring.
Posh: Luke McGee, Jack Baldwin, Michael Bostwick, Andrew Hughes, Marcus Maddison (sub Andrea Borg, 65 mins), Lewis Freestone, Chris Forrester (sub Brad Inman, 80 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes, Callum Chettle, Craig Mackail-Smith (sub Junior Morias, 70 mins), Tom Nichols. Unused substitutes: Anthony Grant, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Mark Tyler, Michael Smith.
Bristol Rovers: Joe Lumley, Robert Harris (sub Ryan Broom, 69 mins), James Clarke, Ryan Sweeney, Tom Lockyer, Chris Lines, Stuart Sinclair, Byron Moore, Billy Bodin, Jermaine Easter, Ellis Harrison (sub Rory Gaffney, 63 mins). Unused substututes: Steve Mildenhall, Lee Mansell, Christian Montano, Joe Partington, Jake Clarke-Salter.
Goals: Posh - Da Silva Lopes (13 mins & 54 mins), Maddison (30 mins), Mackail-Smith (64 mins).
Rovers - Gaffney (84 mins & 90 + 2 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Chettle (foul).
Rovers - Sweeney (foul).
Referee: Richard Clark 7
Attendance: 5,498 (814 Rovers).