Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson breathed a huge sigh of relief after his team clinched a third home win in succession today (April 12) to move within touching distance of sealing a place in the League One play-offs.
Posh beat Coventry 1-0 at London Road thanks to an early header from full-back Kgosi Ntlhe. Ferguson’s men are now sitting pretty in the final play-off place, seven points clear of the chasing pack with just four matches remaining - six points would gurantee Posh that play-off place.
Posh were outstanding for the first 30 minutes, but the loss of influential midfielder Danny Swanson to an ankle injury seemed to adversely affect them and only an occasional piece of desperate defending in the second-half kept their lead intact.
“We were outstanding for half an hour,” Ferguson insisted. “We played at a great pace and tempo and we caused them no end of problems. The early goal was a real boost, but it was a shame we couldn’t get a second.
“Danny Swanson has been our best player for the last three months and losing him was a blow. That’s not being disrespectful to Josh McQuiid who came on because he is a completely different sort of player.
“We didn’t play with as much fluency in the second-half and we also started to defend too deep which only encouraged Coventry to come forward. They didn’t create a great deal, but we had a couple of nervous moments before we saw the game out.
“It was relief to hear the final whistle especially after the referee played six minutes of injury time.
“We haven’t ground enough wins out lately so I will take the 1-0 against a very good Coventry side. It’s strengthened our place in the play-offs, but that’s all it’s done.
“We have several points still to play for and we will keep going until we have secured sixth place. It’s very pleasing that we have started to look such a confident side at home.
“That’s three wins in a row without conceding a goal and that’s the sort of form we will need to take into the play-offs because if we do get there, our first game will be at home.”
Posh preserved their clean sheet despite the surprise substitution of centre-back Ben Nugent with eight minutes go. Ferguson confirmed he sent Craig Alcock on as a replacament for tactical reasons.
“I didn’t like how deep we were defending and that’s why I made the change,” Ferguson admitted. “Three of my back four played very well and Nugent did okay, but I also felt that Alcock would cope with the pace of Callum Wilson better that late in the game.
“Kgosi was very good and it is a huge advantage to be as fresh as he is at this time of the season. It’s a hard slog for 10 months, but Kgosi has had a good rest and has come back into the side in good form.
“Jack Baldwin was excellent in the second-half as well. He must have won every header he went for. It was a struggle to get over the line, but winning is all that matters at this stage of the season.”
Coventry boss Stephen Pressley felt his side were unlucky losers.
“I can’t believe we didn’t get something from the game,” Pressley stated. “Peterborough started very well and deserved to get in front, but for the second-half of the first-half and for the whole second-half I felt we were the better side.
“We pressed them better and pinned them in their own half for long periods. We had the chances to score and I’m disappointed we didn’t win never mind draw.”
Only Swindon appear to be realistic challengers for sixth place. Eighth-placed MK Dons are now nine points behind Posh following their home defeat at the hands of Crawley.
Posh are next in action at Bradford City on Good Friday (April 18).