Peterborough United slipped straight out of the League One play-off places after falling to a 2-1 defeat at out-of-form Oxford United today (March 17).
The home side recorded a first win in seven matches - and a first at home since January 6 - while Posh lost for the first time in eight games to surrender a top six spot they had only earned four days previously. It’s a first defeat as Posh boss for Steve Evans.
An early goal from Rob Dickie and a second-half strike from James Henry secured the points for the hosts. Jack Marriott responded to the second goal almost immediately to claim his 29th goal of the season, but Posh rarely looked like equalising.
To compound a bad day Posh also lost captain Jack Baldwin to a red card during seven minutes of added time before managerless Oxford celebrated a thoroughly deserved victory.
Evans sprang a selection surprise as Jermaine Anderson started a match for the first time December 23. He was employed behind sole striker Marriott for 10 minutes and then as a right-sided midfielder before he was taken off after just 38 minutes in favour of a second striker in Omar Bogle.
Posh changed formation three times in the first-half after falling behind in soft fashion in the fifth minute. A left wing corner from Henry hung in the wind, Posh ‘keeper Jonathan Bond claimed he was blocked off before the ball struck Baldwin and was bundled over the line from close range by centre-back Rob Dickie.
It was almost 2-0 two minutes later when Henry struck the inside of a post from 25 yards. Oxford played with a strong wing behind them in the first period and the surging runs of Wes Thomas caused many problems.
Baldwin and Steven Taylor both made fine blocks, but Andrew Hughes delivered the best piece of defending at the end of the half with a terrific challenge as Jon Obika prepared to convert a Thomas cross.
Posh had little bursts of decent play. Marcus Maddison’s corners caused concern to flap-happy Simon Eastwood, but the Oxford ‘keeper did better to keep a Maddison drive out at his near post.
Posh made a second substitution at the break with Chris Forrester on for Joe Ward, but the sub was then subbed a few minutes later after collecting an injury making a tackle.
Danny Lloyd came on and Posh went 4-4-2, but immediately fell 2-0 down on the hour mark when Michael Doughty’s weak pass was intercepted and transferred to Henry whose 20-yard shot was too powerful for Bond.
To their credit Posh responded quickly as Lloyd and Maddison worked a short corner well before the latter set up Marriott for a tap-in from six yards.
Marriott then shot just wide from 20 yards, after declining to play Lloyd through, and also volleyed Maddison’s precise pass over the bar with a first-time effort.
But Posh fizzled out tamely, resorting to hurling long throws into the area, rather than trying to get Maddison to cross the ball into the danger area.
Baldwin was rightly dismissed four minutes from time for his second yellow card offence of the half. He was also sent off in this fixture last season
Plymouth claimed a late winning goal in their game against Bristol Rovers to move back into the play-off places ahead of Posh.
Posh: Jonathan Bond, Liam Shephard, Andrew Hughes, Jack Baldwin. Steven Taylor, Michael Doughty, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Jermaine Anderson (sub Omar Bogle, 38 mins), Joe Ward (sub Chris Forrester, 46 mins, sub Danny Lloyd, 54 mins), Marcus Maddison, Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Conor O’Malley, Ryan Tafazolli, George Cooper, Junior Morias.
Oxford: Simon Eastwood, Ryan Ledson, Cameron Brannigan, John Mousinho, Rob Dickie, Ashley Smith-Brown, Alex Mowatt (sub Ricardinho, 88 mins), Todd Kane, James Henry, Jon Obika (sub Gino van Kessel, 46 mins), Wes Thomas (sub Isaac Buckley-Ricketts, 68 mins).
Unused substitutes: Scott Shearer, Aaron Martin, Josh Ruffels, Malachi Napa.
Goals: Posh - Marriott (63 mins).
Oxford - Dickie (5 mins), Henry (60 mins).
Sending-off: Posh - Baldwin (second caution, foul).
Cautions: Posh - Baldwin (foul), Maddison (dissent).
Oxford - Ledson (foul).
Referee: Rob Lewis 7
Attendance: 6,804 (708 Posh).