POSH ARE SUNK IN FERGIE TIME
Jedinak books a play-off position
ASWEATY-PALMED afternoon, where every shot, block and pass meant potential life or death, eventually ended with crushing relegation for Peterborough and a promise of further trials and tribulations for Crystal Palace.
Posh began the match outside the relegation zone but moved in and then out again, until Mile Jedinak’s 89th-minute header sent them into League One.
For Palace the season continues into the play-offs but so devastated was Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson at slipping through the trapdoor he admitted it may be the end of the road for him at Posh.
He said: “Not once have I thought we’d go down and I’m devastated for my players. It’s difficult to explain how we feel as a group. It couldn’t have gone any closer.
“We thought we would just get the point and that would be enough. Then to lose a goal as we did – going in off Jedinak’s shoulder – you need a bit of luck in these games and we just haven’t had it.
“Someone has to suffer and unfortunately it’s us. I’m just devastated for my chairman and for my players. I need to reflect on this and take a bit of time out. I’m really gutted that I won’t get the opportunity, perhaps, to take this team to where they should be going.”
Palace had their own aspirations for the afternoon, requiring a draw to secure a play-off place, despite nine winless games.
They should have gone ahead after 12 minutes, but Bobby Olejnik palmed away Damien Delaney’s header and Grant McCann somehow cleared Glenn Murray’s subsequent shot.
However, Posh took the lead. Lee Tomlin collected the ball 30 yards out. He skipped between Joel Ward and Kagisho Dikgacoi, ran across two more defenders and over Jedinak’s tackle to score.
On the stroke of half-time, Peterborough gifted Palace an equaliser. Gabriel Zakuani took an ugly swipe at the ball, but only succeeded in felling Danny Gabbidon.
Glenn Murray scored the penalty, becoming the first man to score 30 league goals in a season at this level since Lee Hughes in 1998-99.
He almost scored again early in the second-half, but Posh conjured another incredible goalline clearance as Tommy Rowe flicked Murray’s shot away.
Seven minutes later Posh scored an excellent second. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing cut in from the wing and bent his shot across Julián Speroni. At this stage Peterborough were safe and Ferguson added: “At 2-1 there was only one winner.The only person you don’t want the ball to fall to is Kevin Phillips because he’s a born goalscorer.”
But unfortunately for Ferguson it did fall to Phillips, introduced by Ian Holloway in an attacking reshuffle and surrounded by four defenders in the depths of the penalty area he twisted into a halfyard of space and scooped his shot into the top corner.
That moved Peterborough onto 55 points, level with Barnsley, but surviving on goal difference. But, with ‘Fergie-time’ approaching another of Holloway’s subs, Stephen Dobbie – who will be ineligible against parent club Brighton in the play-offs – swung his freekick onto Jedinak’s head.
Holloway said: “I feel for Peterborough. I’ve been there myself. Was it a free-kick? Did they deserve that? Probably not.
“This is what football is all about. I couldn’t see us losing the game and I couldn’t see us behind. I thought the changes made the difference. The way the game went was about as ridiculous as the last few weeks have gone.
“We’ve achieved one thing. Lots of other teams would have loved to have been in the play-offs and we’re in the play-offs, but I’m not celebrating and I’m totally focused on that against our arch rivals. We start fresh.The annoying thing for us is that we’ve had a terrible run at the wrong time of the season, but the lads deserve the chance to see how they cope with the play-offs.”
PILE ON: Kevin Phillips, hidden, celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal for Palace