For half-a-game Peterborough United looked set to return to the League One play-off places tonight (April 19).
Posh were outstanding in the first-half at Blackburn and deservedly led courtesy of an own goal at the break. Three points would have been enough to return to the top six.
But the hosts rallied strongly in the second half, equalised 10 minutes in and then scored twice in the final 10 minutes. Inevitably League One’s player-of-the-year Bradley Dack scored twice with Danny Graham also on target.
Posh struggled after the break, but can again point to some questionable refereeing decisions contributing to their downfall.
Sky TV commentators reckoned Posh could have been awarded two penalties in the first-half and home midfielder Corry Evans was fortunate not to be sent off for a horrible challenge on Michael Doughty midway through the second period.
It probably wasn’t in homage to former manager Grant McCann, who was at Ewood Park as a pundit, but Posh reverted to the formation of wing-backs and three centre-backs that the Northern Irishman employed during a fine start to the current campaign.
And the improvement on the previous outing - and several others under the current boss - was stark. Posh dominated midfield, passed the ball better than the automatic promotion hunters and might have had more than a goal lead at the break with more generous refereeing.
Charlie Mulgrew appearded to escape with a handball from a Gwion Edwards cross before the Rovers defender headed into his own net from a George Cooper corner a minute before the break.
And that goal was fully deserved as Posh were far brighter in possession and enjoyed the pace supplied from left wing-back of Edwards. Just before the goal Raya had made a fine save from Cooper’s free kick.
Edwards had forced home ‘keeper David Raya into a save after one thrilling burst forward and then played Jack Marriott in on goal, although the top scorer’s shot was blocked.
And Posh almost made it 2-0 in the last knockings of the first-half when Raya made a right hash of a routine catch. Danny Lloyd saw the opportunity to pounce, but his stab at goal was hoofed off the line with TV viewers reporting the Posh forward was impeded by Reya.
Blackburn had threatened to have joy down the flanks behind the Posh wingbacks in the early stages, but once Adam Armstrong’s early cross had flashed across goal they weakened as an attacking force. Jack Baldwin did well though to block a Marcus Antonsson shot after right wing-back Leo Da Silva Lopes had slipped.
Inevitably Rovers improved after the break, but it took a moment of good fortune for the equaliser to arrive 10 minutes in. Derrick Williams’ left-wing cross was good, but Steven Taylor looked set to head clear until he slipped enabling Bradley Dack to head from close range.
Posh steadied the ship, fought off many further crosses into their area, but attacked only occasionally. Their best effort saw Leo Da Silva Lopes fire straight at Raya after interplay with substitute Junior Morias.
Posh still looked set to secure the draw they deserved until a flighted cross eight minutes from time was headed against the crossbar by Dack and converted by Graham from close range.
It was harsh on Posh who might have been playing against 10 men by then as Evans escaped with a yellow card for his shocking challenge on Doughty.
And to rub it in, ruthless Rovers caught Posh skipper Baldwin in possession and created a last-gasp goal for Dack, his fourth against Posh this season.
Posh will now need to win their final three matches to have any chance of extending their season beyond May 5. Even that might not be enough.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Jack Baldwin, Steven Taylor, Andrew Hughes, Leo da Silva Lopes, Gwion Edwards, Anthony Grant, Michael Doughty (sub Jermaine Anderson, 87 mins), George Cooper (sub Joe Ward, 66 mins), Danny Lloyd (sub Junior Morias, 77 mins), Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Jonathan Bond, Lewis Freestone, Chris Forrester, Liam Shephard.
Blackburn: David Raya, Derrick Williams (sub Amari’i Bell, 85 mins), Richie Smallwood, Charlie Mulgrew, Darragh Lenihan, Corry Evans (sub Peter Whittingham, 84 mins), Elliott Bennett, Bradley Dack, Marcus Antonsson (sub Dominic Samuel, 67 mins), Adam Armstrong, Danny Graham.
Unused substitutes: Jayson Leutwiler, Jack Payne, Paul Downing, Craig Conway.
Goals: Posh - Mulgrew (og, 44 mins).
Blackburn - Dack (55 mins & 90 + 4 mins), Graham (82 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Edwards (foul), Anderson (foul).
Rovers - Evans (foul), Dack (unsportsmanlike conduct)
Referee: Ross Joyce 6
Attendance: 11,679 (184 Posh).