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The 5 games that saw Posh to automatic promotion

After eight-long years away from the Championship, Peterborough United had finally sealed their return to England’s second tier of football, and in the most dramatic way possible.
How did we get here - which games of the season were integral in the promotion battle?

Eight years ago, on May 4, 2013, Darren Ferguson’s side were relegated from the Championship after a 89th minute winner from Mile Jedinak at Crystal Palace. That memory has haunted supporters ever since, but sealing automatic promotion back to the second tier on Saturday can finally allow Posh supporters to say so-long to that nightmare.

This has been a gruelling season, one filled with ups and downs, so we decided to look back at five games that helped Posh secure promotion.

5. Peterborough United 2-1 Fleetwood Town (September 19, 2020)

You would be forgiven if you had completely forgotten about this game, but in hindsight, it was such an important victory at the beginning of the season. After failing to win the opening three games, including the opening day defeat against Accrington Stanley, things were already looking sour for Posh. And at 4:45pm on September 19, it wasn’t looking much better.

However, two goals in the five added minutes of injury-time saw Posh secure a dramatic victory over Fleetwood Town, earning Darren Ferguson’s men their first points of the campaign.

It was also the beginning of the Weston Homes Stadium becoming a fortress, with Posh going onto have the best home record in League One.

It might have been a while ago, and so much happened in-between, but that game really kicked started Posh’s season.

4. Plymouth Argyle 0-3 Peterborough United (February 23, 2021)

Next up was that emphatic victory on the road at Plymouth Argyle, who were in top form and fighting for a potential spot in the play-off at the time.

The hosts were nine games unbeaten before they welcomed Posh, who had won three on the trot, but Ferguson’s side’s unconvincing away record hinted at a tricky afternoon in Plymouth.

Well, it wasn’t - and many would argue the away performance was the best of the season. Three goals in the second half condemned Argyle to their first defeat in nine, while Posh returned to the top of League One.

It was a potential banana skin for Posh, who were building up confidence at the time, but they managed to come through unscathed to really kickstart that automatic promotion challenge.

3. Fleetwood Town 0-1 Peterborough United (April 2, 2021)

As we entered the final stages of the season, Posh had to avoid dropping points in fixtures against the lesser sides, including Fleetwood Town.

The Cod Army had dropped off in recent weeks and found themselves hovering around mid-table, so this fixture seemed the perfect opportunity for Posh to build more confidence heading into the Sunderland tie three days later.

However, that wasn’t the case at the Highbury Stadium, and in fact Fleetwood were unlucky not to take three points in the end.

But just when Posh were resigning themselves to dropping two points, Jonson Clarke-Harris drilled a free-kick into the back of the net in the 89th minute.

The celebrations among the players showed how important those three points were and helped maintain the confidence in their automatic promotion hunt.

posh-charltonThe three points against Charlton gave Posh a good cushion going into their final four games. By PA Images

2. Charlton Athletic 0-1 Peterborough United (April 24, 2021)

If you wanted a game that saw Posh supporters across the city start to believe that automatic promotion was really happening, then it was the narrow one-nil victory over Charlton Athletic at The Valley Stadium.

The Addicks were rejuvenated under Nigel Adkins, on a nine games unbeaten streak and fighting for a spot in the playoffs, while Posh entered the game on the back of a defeat against Gillingham.

But an early goal from Clarke-Harris’ settled the nerves, and a terrific penalty save from Joe Bursik saw Posh hang onto the all-important three points. Once again, the celebrations at full-time showed how much it meant to players and staff.

Those three points meant Posh took one step closer to returning to the Championship and needed just three points in their next game to seal automatic promotion.

That wasn't to be - Posh could only hold onto a draw against Doncaster Rovers, but with two games and a point to seal it we come to our final choice:

1. Peterborough United 3-3 Lincoln City (May 1, 2021)

Of course, the first choice had to be the game that clinched automatic promotion, and it will be a game that lives long in the memory of the players and supporters.

After failing to beat Doncaster Rovers the week prior, Posh’s automatic promotion celebrations were delayed until the fixture against Lincoln City. And, for the majority of the game on Saturday, it seemed promotion was slipping away again.

With 35 minutes to go, Lincoln had a three-goal advantage and seemed certain to take the three points they needed to keep the pressure on. However, Posh didn’t stop fighting and clawed back two goals in the final 25 minutes.

Then, in the final minute of stoppage time, Posh was awarded a spot-kick - and that’s when time froze for all supporters across the city.

Up stepped a cool, composed Clarke-Harris, firing the ball into the back of the net and sparking huge celebrations inside and outside the stadium.

Darragh MacAnthony described it as Posh's "Aguero moment" while Sammie Szmodics referred the comeback as Peterborough's "Liverpool in Istanbul".

After eight years outside England’s second division and last season’s disappointing end, Posh achieved their dreams in the most dramatic way possible - but you couldn’t ask for a better ending.

2.59512983Darren Ferguson hailed the promotion as the best of his managerial career. By PA Wire/Bradley Collyer