Je­d­i­nak books a play-off po­si­tion

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Brook To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

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

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