REPORT | Peterborough United 3 Wanderers 3

Jerome goal Peterborough

Wanderers will play Barnsley in the League One play-off semi-finals for the second season running after automatic promotion was formally denied them on the final day, writes Pete Oliver.

It was always going to be a long shot to sneak past Derby County into second place and the Rams duly got the job done to follow Portsmouth up into the Championship.

Wanderers briefly threatened to make it a dramatic final afternoon with two quick-fire goals at London Road.

But with Derby also striking early to settle any nerves and avoid the prospect of an unlikely home defeat to Carlisle that would have given the Whites a chance, Wanderers’ match-up against Peterborough became a dress rehearsal for a possible Wembley showdown in the play-off final.


Dempsey goal Peterborough

Neither club will be thinking that far ahead with semi-finals to negotiate but the potential warm-up proved to be a cracker as Peterborough hit back with three second-half goals before Wanderers dug deep to make sure they would extend their unbeaten run to seven games thanks to Cameron Jerome’s late leveller.

Jerome’s third goal in as many games, added to Kyle Dempsey’s header and a Dion Charles’ penalty, maintained Wanderers’ momentum and Ian Evatt’s men will now move forward with justified confidence as they look to reverse last year’s semi-final outcome and keep their promotion dream on track.

Knowing they needed victory and a four-goal swing to possibly overhaul Derby, Wanderers couldn’t have made a better start with two goals inside the first eight minutes.

In a lightning beginning Charles saw a glancing header touched over the bar by Jed Steer for a corner that ultimately led to the opening goal.

From Randell Williams’s cross, former Peterborough loan man Dempsey – back in the Whites’ starting line-up in place of the unwell Paris Maghoma – guided an excellent downward header into the bottom corner.


Dion Charles penalty

Within a minute it became apparent that Derby had also scored but Wanderers were keeping their half of the bargain as they quickly doubled their lead.

Williams was involved again when he was tripped just inside the penalty area and Charles accepted the chance to score for the first time in 11 games either side of his injury absence as he coolly slotted home from the spot to move to 18 goals for the season.

Wanderers’ intensity was too much for Posh to cope with for a spell and the two goalscorers almost combined for a third goal when Charles teed up Dempsey for an opening that just eluded him.

Charles also crashed a shot just over the top, while Peterborough’s best chance saw Ephron Mason-Clarke steer an effort wide of the target five minutes before the break.

It was a different story in the second half as Wanderers perhaps lost some of their edge as the inevitable became a reality in terms of the pursuit of second spot.

Peterborough – guaranteed to finish fourth – also had nothing to lose and stepped up their efforts with the reward of three goals in half an hour to turn the tide and go in front.

The first was turned in by Malik Mothersille but Wanderers had every right to feel aggrieved by an apparent handball from winger David Ajiboye not spotted by substitute referee Scott Tallis before he burst clear to deliver the telling cross.


Charles celebration Peterborough

And it was a tight off-side call that then allowed Joel Randall to then run through and make it 2-2.

Mothersille also saw an effort cleared off the line by Josh Sheehan before he put the hosts in front from Randall’s low cross with just over 10 minutes to go.

Wanderers could have accepted their fate but, to their credit, they came again to equalise and deservedly finish the regular campaign with something to show for an impressive performance.

Dan Nlundulu went close to his first goal since returning from injury before it was left to fellow substitute Jerome to earn a point as he was in the right place for a cross from Nathan Ogbeta to bounce off him and into the net to continue his late flourish.

Wanderers’ therefore go to Oakwell for the first leg against Barnsley with a record of just one defeat in 12 games and the belief behind them that an extended season can still be a memorable one.

Wanderers: Baxter; Jones, Almeida Santos (Taylor 80), Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Thomason (Morley 66), Dempsey, Williams (Ogbeta 80); Charles (Jerome 75), Collins (Nlundulu 75). Substitutes: Iredale, Ashworth.

Booked: Dacres-Cogley, Thomason, Toal

Peterborough: Steer; Katongo (Dornelly 58), Edwards, Knight, Burrows; Kyprianou, Collins; Ajiboye (Clarke-Harris 81), Randall, Mason-Clark (Fernandez 88); Mothersille. Substitutes: Bilokapic, De Havilland, Olakigbe, Wakeling.

Booked:  Randall

Referee: Bobby Madeley (replaced at half-time by Scott Tallis)

Attendance: 11,643

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