Peterborough United suffered what will probably be a fatal blow to their League One play-off hopes after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at home to lowly Rochdale today (April 14).
A first-half strike from Ian Henderson won the points for Dale. Henderson was sent off early in the second-half for a shocking challenge on Gwion Edwards which led to Posh dominating the rest of the match.
But they lacked the composure to take advantage of some terrific positions and when they did create, visiting goalkeeper Josh Lillis proved tough to beat.
Posh were without their two most reliable centre-backs and their most creative attacker and my did it show throughout the first half.
A couple of left-wing crosses did cause slight concern to the visiting defence, but once Dale took the lead they were far too comfortable in a 45-minute mess of a contest.
Posh defended a right-wing cross poorly in the 16th minute and, although ‘keeper Conor O’Malley did well to keep Calvin Andrew’s shot out, Henderson was on hand to convert from close range.
The game then degenerated into hoofball, a tactic that seemed entirely reasonable when watching the attempts of both teams to pass the ball along the floor.
Referee Anthony Coggins hardly helped matters with his random interpretation of the laws. Posh skipper Jack Baldwin was fortunate to escape a yellow card for a terrible tackle on the edge of his own area, while visiting midfielder Mark Kitching’s risible attempts at simulation were ignored.
Posh did get into a couple of good areas, usually when George Cooper became involved, but the touch of top men Jack Marriott and Edwards was poor.
The half ended with Posh having no shots on target, a huge disappointment considering what was at stake.
Posh were handed a lifeline when Henderson’s awful lunge on Edwards earned a deserved red card 10 minutes into the second-half.
Immediately Baldwin’s header from Cooper’s free-kick was well saved and the captain then sent a header from a corner straight at the Dale ‘keeper.
Posh enjoyed a purple patch as Dale sat back, but Edwards missed a sitter from a Cooper free kick with a close range header and Junior Morias couldn’t pick out a teammate after advancing well into the six yard box.
And Posh had a ‘goal’ disallowed when Edwards stooped to head home after Lillis had parried substitute Danny Lloyd’s shot into his path. The assistant referee’s flag was up quickly for what must have been a tight decision.
Conor O’Malley rescued Posh after Joe Thompson broke through 10 minutes from time and Andrew struck the crossbar from the corner.
In a dramatic finale a Marriott shot took a double deflection before travelling behind for a corner and Lillis produced a fine save to save a last-minute Lloyd header.
Posh: Conor O’Malley, Liam Shephard, Lewis Freestone (sub Joe Ward, 54 mins), Jack Baldwin, Andrew Hughes, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Chris Forrester, George Cooper, Gwion Edwards (sub Idris Kanu, 83 mins), Junior Morias (sub Danny Lloyd, 72 mins), Jack Marriott.
Unused substitutes: Jonathan Bond, Anthony Grant, Jermaine Anderson, Michael Doughty.
Rochdale: Josh Lillis, Joe Rafferty, Jim McNulty, Harrison McGahey, Ollie Rathbone (sub Scott Wiseman, 60 mins), Ryan Delaney, Callum Camps (sub Joe Thompson, 67 mins), Mark Kitching (sub Kgosi Nthle, 60 mins), Matty Done, Ian Henderson, Calvin Andrew.
Unused substitutes: Brendan Moore, Stephen Humphrys, Steven Davies, Dan Adshead.
Goal: Dale - Henderson (16 mins).
Sending-off: Dale - Henderson (serious foul play).
Cautions: Dale - Camps (foul), Kitching (dissent).
Referee: Anthony Coggins 5
Attendance: 5,496 (224 Dale).