Peterborough boosted their automatic promotion hopes with a 3-0 triumph that sent Port Vale plunging back into the relegation zone.

The hosts ended a frustrating first half on a high when Joel Randall’s 25-yard thunderbolt sailed past helpless keeper Connor Ripley – courtesy of a double deflection off Vale men Rhys Walters and Alex Iacovitti – to hand them the lead seconds before the break.

Randall, Ephron Mason-Clark, Ricky-Jade Jones and Kwame Poku had all squandered good chances before Ripley pulled off a fine save to deny Archie Collins, but the following corner – taken short by captain Harrison Burrows to Randall – led to Posh hitting the front.

Burrows followed up his EFL Trophy final heroics with another goal as Posh doubled their lead 11 minutes in the second half.

The captain struck for the 12th time this season when he sent Ripley the wrong way from the spot after Ryan Loft’s pull on Josh Knight.

And Burrows was again involved when Posh put the result beyond doubt in the 86th minute as his left-wing cross was headed into his own net by the unfortunate Iacovitti.

Vale fell back into the bottom four on goal difference as they failed to manage an attempt on target until second half stoppage time when substitute Uche Ikpeazu’s blast was spectacularly tipped over by Jed Steer.

Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson praised his bench after two late goals finally saw off Burton in a 3-1 win for Posh at the Pirelli Stadium.

The game had been heading towards a draw after Ricky-Jade Jones’ opener early in the second half had been cancelled by Albion’s Crystal Palace loanee Ademola Ola-Adebomi’s first senior goal from a long throw – but a late two-goal salvo from defender Josh Knight and substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris ultimately sealed victory for Posh.

“The subs have won the game for us, simple as that,” Ferguson said.

“What has been proven today is that we are going to need everyone. Jonno has come on, scored one and set one up and Malik [Mothersille] has set one up.

“Ricky’s is a real striker’s goal and he needs more of those, but that is 12 for the season for him now and once he started making the runs we wanted him to we started stretching them a bit more and got on top. Then it is about getting the next goal but unfortunately, they got that.”

Posh are now on a five-game winning run, which has seen them solidify a play-off spot and reach Wembley in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.

And Ferguson said: “At this stage of the season it is just about getting wins and another three goals is just fantastic. I am delighted with that but I always felt, in my own head, that March was going to be a pivotal month for us and we have started it really well.”

Albion stay five points clear of relegation despite the loss, but the Brewers are now the closest team to the bottom four with manager Martin Paterson ruing missed chances that cost his side dear.

“In terms of effort I can’t ask any more of them,” Paterson said post-match. “Ultimately you can look at it and they had 14 shots to our 12 so in the cold light of day the story is that they stuck the ball in the net and we didn’t.”

Ola-Adebomi’s goal gave Albion parity after Deji Oshilaja had earlier seen a header hit the post but Albion squandered opportunities.

“We had moments and chances but we didn’t punish them. Ultimately, we didn’t score the goals that were required,” the Burton boss added.

“I think everybody had us down for a defeat today but because of the performance, in parts, we should have got something from the game. It’s a sickener but I have to take it on the chin.”

Albion now face two tough games on the road, starting with a trip to leaders Portsmouth.

Paterson said: “We gave up goals today that were uncharacteristic for us and now we have to go away from home for two games and pick up points. And that is a necessity.”

Peterborough swept to a fourth straight win as late goals from Josh Knight and substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris sealed a 3-1 win at Burton.

Albion looked to be on for a hard-earned point when Crystal Palace loanee Ademola Ola-Adebomi’s first senior goal cancelled out Ricky-Jade Jones’ opener.

A tight first half saw chances at a premium. Max Crocombe in the Burton goal had a make a sharp stop with his feet to deny Jones whilst a low save to deny Joel Randall was more comfortable for the Burton stopper.

Tolaji Bola blocked a close-range effort from Randall as Posh began to threaten but it was Albion who spurned the best chance of the half when Bobby Kamwa fired over from close range after good work from Joe Hugill on the right.

Posh went through the gears early in the second half and carved out the breakthrough when Jones glanced a header over Crocombe from Harrison Burrows’ cross.

Deji Oshilaja saw a header come back off the post before Albion equalised with 20 minutes to go, Ola-Adebomi getting the final touch to guide Tom Hamer’s long throw past Jed Steer.

Albion looked to have secured a vital point until Knight scored with two minutes to go, Clarke-Harris putting the gloss on victory with a stoppage-time finish from close range.

Promotion-chasing Peterborough produced a second-half turnaround to sink Shrewsbury 2-1.

A shock was on the cards at half-time as League One’s lowest scorers led the highest scorers in the division courtesy of Jordan Shipley’s opener.

The Shrews midfielder struck with a fine 20-yard strike in the 41st minute after back-up goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne made a series of smart saves to keep out Posh.

Burgoyne’s terrific save to deny Ricky-Jade Jones one-on-one in the early stages was the pick of the bunch and even when he was beaten by an acrobatic Ephron Mason-Clark effort, defender Morgan Feeney was perfectly placed to head off the line.

Despite falling behind to Shipley’s strike, Posh refused to panic and roared back after the break.

Joel Randall provided a simple finish to a wonderfully-crafted leveller when tapping in a low Jadel Katongo cross in the 51st minute.

And the comeback was complete midway through the half when Josh Knight broke free to head in Harrison Burrows’ corner at the back post in the 68th minute.

Randall struck a post with a glorious chance in stoppage time, but Peterborough had done enough to claim the points.

Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson felt his side should have been more ruthless following the 1-0 victory over struggling Fleetwood at Highbury Stadium.

A goal from Archie Collins just before the break proved to be the difference as Ferguson’s side made it five League One games without defeat.

In a first half that was dominated by the visitors, United had plenty of chances to take the lead with Ricky-Jade Jones and Kwame Poku coming close in the opening moments.

But Peterborough eventually broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute when Collins’ long-range effort deflected past Fleetwood goalkeeper Jay Lynch before nestling in the bottom corner.

Posh could have extended their lead in the second half when Lynch brilliantly stopped Jones’ close-range header while Posh goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic denied Ben Heneghan in the dying moments as the home side almost grabbed an unlikely equaliser.

Peterborough are now in the League One automatic-promotion places after four wins in their last five.

Ferguson said: “It should have been at least three after 10 minutes but it wasn’t. We started the game how I wanted us to with the authority we’ve got.

“But we’ve just got to be more ruthless, we’ve blown teams away at times but away from home against a team that’s not in form, if we get that second goal it kills the game.

“It wasn’t comfortable at the end and, ultimately, we’re hanging on in a game that should have been very comfortable.

“It was a good game to watch, I just wish we could have been more ruthless, but it’s another win and another clean sheet.

“The clean sheets are going to be key and if we can keep clean sheets like we have been then we’re going to have a bit of a chance.

“You’ve got to come to these places and beat what’s in front of you and today we did that.”

Defeat was Fleetwood’s sixth in a row in all competitions and they have not found the net in almost 10 hours of football.

Manager Lee Johnson said: “I think it’s been a massive effort to get that performance.

“I thought we rode our luck a little bit in the first 15 or 20 minutes but I think we did OK.

“I thought we defended OK and worked really hard and we went 4-4-2 to try and be more positive in the game.

“We had two golden chances really, in the first half with Josh Earl and then with Ben Heneghan at the end.

“We weren’t without chances and it’s another game where we haven’t scored and another game that we’ve conceded.

“On a positive note, I thought it was excellent to see how many of our academy players were in and around the first-team squad today and that’s nice to see.

“But we can’t be victims and we have to be fighters. We’ve got to get through January and we’ve got to get through this season and then I’m certain that this time next year the complexity of the league position changes.”

Darren Ferguson was relieved to survive an “unprofessional” second-half wobble as his side held off a fightback from 10-man Blackpool to win 4-2 at Bloomfield Road.

Posh appeared to be cruising as goals from Kwame Poku, Harrison Burrows and Ricky-Jade Jones put them 3-0 up inside an hour against a home side who had Oliver Casey dismissed shortly after the restart.

But the hosts scored twice in the space of four minutes through Kenny Dougall’s header and Sonny Carey, who was first to the rebound when Nicholas Bilokapic parried James Husband’s shot to set up a grandstand finish.

It needed a stoppage-time strike from Ephron Mason-Clark, who had earlier missed a penalty, to make the points safe and Ferguson was left to reflect on a mixed performance.

“We were excellent for 60 minutes and we stuck to the game plan,” he said.

“We were very good and we were dominant. But even at 2-0 we got sloppy, and then a great third goal and you’re thinking ‘game over, just manage it. Can we put a real statement out and put them to the sword?’.

“Then 15 minutes later, we’re hanging on. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We were all over the place and it was just unprofessional.

“We managed to see it through and a good counter-attack and a great finish by Ephron. Any time you come here and you win, it’s a great result because these will be in the top six, I’m absolutely certain of that.

“We’ve now gone to Bolton away, Barnsley away, these away, Portsmouth away; a lot of teams that will probably end up in the top six, I think, and we’ve come out pretty unscathed.”

Posh climbed to fourth following their victory while Blackpool sit seventh, three points outside the Sky Bet League One play-off places.

Tangerines boss Neil Critchley had nothing but praise for the way his side battled back into the contest.

“I’m proud of a team that’s given absolutely everything in really difficult circumstances,” he said.

“If you’re going to lose a game of football, then lose like that.

“I’m disappointed to lose, obviously. I think we could have started the game better, I thought we were a little bit tentative, which was not the message before the game, but I thought we grew into it.

“Our response to going 3-0 down was magnificent, unbelievable. The players gave absolutely everything. At 3-2, we had them, we felt we could get something out of the game at that moment in time.

“You could see tiredness towards the end and we made a mistake and they scored. So much happened during the game. Even though we’ve lost, I’m still very positive about what I saw in the second half, especially.”

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