Brave Tranmere display undone by own goal
Enoch Showumni`s own goal was the difference between the two sides as Peterborough rode their luck against a battling Tranmere side that deserved more out of the game.
John Welsh had put the Whites ahead in the first-half after taking advantage of some sloppy defending, but the pressure of the home sides attack eventually took its toll on the players, with play-off chasers coming back to collect all three points.
Despite stating that defender Max Blanchard was close to full fitness, Les Parry made no changes to the side that completed a triumphant 3-0 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
There were a few concerns over the state of the pitch after rain fell heavily on London Road in the early hours of the morning. But a pitch inspection ruled that the surface was playable, and that the game would go ahead.
The Posh are known in League One for their goal scoring expertise, so the travelling fans were pleasantly surprised to see the Whites put them on the back foot early on. A combination of the sodden pitch and the Tranmere`s pressure from the front seemed to be affecting the home sides passing game, and although there were no clear chances in the first 10 minutes, the early signs were good.
The game then started to move with two minutes of end to end play and some great reactions from both keepers. Tony Warner`s throw saw Lateef Elford-Alliyu speed down the wing with defenders keeping level. The winger was able to lose the pair on the edge of the box and cut it back to Showunmi who shot on the turn to force a save out of Joe Lewis on 13 minutes. Deflecting off the leg of Lewis, the Posh broke from the save to present Nathaniel Mendez-Laing with a shooting opportunity outside the area which needed a block from Mark McChrystal.
A neat bit of passing by the hosts led to Charlie Lee firing in a shot that was deflected and looked bound for the right corner, only for Warner to get down brilliantly to tip the ball round his post on 16 minutes. As the match continued to flow at breakneck speed, Ash Taylor`s long-range effort drifted wide two minutes later.
Much to the delight of the Rovers fans aware of the home sides scoring exploits, the game did slow down momentarily as it approached the 20 minute mark. But the Posh defence seemed to have been things a bit too easy when Mark Bennett was dispossessed deep inside his own half by Showunmi. The target man raced forward to play John Welsh into the box, with the captain slotting his finish past Lewis for the lead on 24 minutes.
Lucas Akins had a decent chance to give Tranmere a second just five minutes later when Showunmi threatened the defence again, this time running and barging past blue shirts to find the striker who put his attempt wide of the target.
Despite the presence and occasional threat of George Boyd and Craig Mackail-Smith on the ball, the pair were kept quiet throughout the first-half as the Whites pushed back to retain their lead. Ian Goodison and McChrystal were proving to be as important as they have been all season for the Whites as countless crosses and shots were blocked away to safety. Ash Taylor was also having a great game in holding midfield by sweeping up from any forward runs made by the home side.
Peterborough seemed to be getting more and more frustrated as the half wore on as Tranmere pushed back to shut out any danger. Mendez-Laing`s deflected shot and the resulting corner that looped over a mass of bodies proved to be the final action of the half as the home side went into the tunnel to a round of boos.
As expected, The Posh came out looking to get straight back into the game, and it took some disciplined defending to keep them at bay. The first 10 minutes of the second-period saw Tranmere pushed back into their own half- hesitant to dive in- but the hosts` patience paid off when Boyd sent a low cross into the area which Grant McCann tapped into the bottom right corner on 52 minutes.
Both sides shared the possession following the goal without really threatening their opponents which prompted substitutions from both dugouts on 64 minutes. Zoumana Bakayogo took to the field at left-midfield in place of Akins as Rovers switched to a 4-4-2, with Darren Ferguson bringing on striker David Ball for midfielder Mendez-Laing as the game stood on a knife edge.
A superb break from defence saw Joss Labadie play in Bakayogo who scooped his effort over the bar on 67 minutes, but Rovers were to be dealt with a hammer blow two minutes later when Showunmi`s attempt at heading a cross clear flicked off the back of the former Leeds man`s head and into the net for an own goal.
Robbie Weir was brought on by Parry for his debut on 74 minutes in place of Ash Taylor in an attacking minded change, with Labadie shortly making way for Andy Robinson after as the centre of midfield underwent a revamp.
There was little to talk about following the substitutions, with Bakayogo`s earlier opportunity looking more and more significant by the minute. Aaron Cresswell was unable to create anything from a corner on 85 minutes, and as the game went into stoppage time, it looked like Peterborough would hold on.
A good bit of link up play between Showunmi and Robinson saw Weir get a chance to shoot, with the attempt soaring over the bar. And the last chance of the game saw Robinson almost hit the target from long-range, but Tranmere left London Road empty handed.
Goals- Peterborough- McCann (53), Showunmi og (70)
Tranmere- Welsh (24)
Peterborough: Lewis, Little Zakuani, Bennett, Basey, Mendez-Laing (Ball 65), Lee, McCann, Boyd, Mackail-Smith, Tomlin. Substitutes not used: Jones, Langmead, Davies, Rowe, Wesolowski, Kennedy.
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Goodison, McChrystal, Cresswell, Labadie (Robinson 78), Taylor (Weir 74), Welsh, Akins (Bakayogo 65), Showunmi, Elford-Alliyu. Substitutes not used: Collister, Wood, Cathalina, McGurk.