Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson blamed a terrible refereeing decision and a lack of a ruthless streak for his team’s latest League One defeat.
Posh went down 1-0 at rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon last night (March 12) thanks to a dubious 87th minute penalty awarded by referee Ollie Yates.
Recalled centre-back Rhys Bennett was the man adjudged to have fouled home substitute Dylan Connelly and he was also sent off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, a decision Posh are likely to appeal.
It was a fifth defeat in eight games for Posh under Ferguson, the man chairman Darragh MacAnthony wants to lead his club into next season.
Posh have now lost back-to-back games away from home to the two worst teams in League One and yet they remain just one point outside the play-off places ahead of a huge game with eighth-placed Coventry at the ABAX Stadium on Saturday (March 16).
“The positive from the last two games is that we are still in the thick of the play-off race,” Ferguson said. “Our form suggests we should be out of it, but there is still a lot to play for.
“I still believe we can do it and I hope the players also believe it.
“They were unlucky tonight. Anyone watching the game could see that.
“We have dominated the game after the first 30 minutes, but we lacked the ruthless streak to convert any of the three good chances we created.
“And then we have been beaten by a terrible penalty decision. Rhys has done nothing wrong. Their player has leaned into Rhys and fallen over and the referee has given a decision from the halfway line. You have to be certain about decisions like that and I don’t see how he could have been from that far away.
“We have missed two great opportunities to get back into the top six and we can’t afford to waste any more. We have two home games to come now and we have to be brave enough to go out and win them like we did our last home game.
“I have some talented lads here, but talent alone won’t win you anything. You need to have desire, determination and courage also.”
Ferguson recalled striker Ivan Toney, midfielder Louis Reed and Bennett last night. He left on-loan Lee Tomlin on the substitutes’ bench until the final 10 minutes.
“I needed to play two strikers tonight,” Ferguson added. “They have a lot of goals between them, but they haven’t played much together.
“They linked up well at times and Ivan has had two great chances to score. He’s also had a goal disallowed which I haven’t seen back yet. Matty Godden looked tired by the end though.
“It’s always a big decision to leave Tomlin out, but it’s all about balance. I thought Louis Reed did well. He kept the ball moving well and helped us dominate a lot of the second half.
“We didn’t start the game with the tempo I wanted, but we played some good stuff towards the end of the first-half and for most of the second half.”
Posh follow Saturday’s big game with a home game against ailing Southend United at the ABAX Stadium on March 23.
Posh have rearranged their League One game at Portsmouth for Tuesday, April 30. It should have been played on March 30, but Pompey are in the Checkatrade Trophy Final that weekend so the trip to Fratton Park becomes the final away game of the season.