MATCH REPORT: Wanderers 1 Peterborough 0
IT was not exactly top 10 with a bullet but there’s no doubting that Dougie Freedman’s Wanderers are carrying on up the charts.
In the end, Craig Dawson’s very early strike was all that separated the two sides at the Reebok. And the margin of victory should certainly have been more comfortable.
But we should know by now that the Whites are intent on doing everything the hard way, and, though they are now back inside the top 10 for the first time since September and seven points off that elusive play-off line, you sense there are a few more twists and turns to come in this most unpredictable of seasons.
Freedman named a rare unchanged side, and, given the authority of victory against Hull City on Saturday, you could not blame him.
A few tongues were set wagging by the fact that Chris Eagles had been excluded on the bench, but the return of Holden on the bench was certainly a welcome sight, even if he entered play a little ahead of schedule.
Once again Wanderers made a blinding start and were ahead of five minutes.
Jay Spearing made a dog’s dinner of his first corner but got a second chance to swing the ball in and, in what has become a well-rehearsed routine, Dawson was there to head home at the near post.
The Whites threatened to run riot early on, just as they had on Saturday. Mark Davies and Chung-Yong Lee were a constant menace, with Marcos Alonso also joining in well from the back. Only a fine save from Robert Ojelnik prevented Chung-Yong Lee from doubling the lead on 17 minutes.
The Austrian keeper dived full length to push away a curling effort from the winger, who found himself on the end of another fine flowing move through midfield.
But things turned slightly sour at that point when Davies collapsed in pain after chasing down defender Michael Bostwick.
The midfielder looked at first as if he would need a stretcher to leave the field, and then confounded everyone by re-entering the field of play. But within two minutes he had succumbed to the injury and was replaced by Holden – playing his first league game since March 5, 2011.
Seizing on yet another Spearing set piece, Dawson then forced Ojelnik into another superb save with a snap shot from close range. The defender kept the ball alive on the edge of the box and Ngog will feel he could have got a better connection with his header to send it towards goal.
There was a quick reminder not to take anything for granted just before the break when Dwight Gayle stabbed a scrambled shot wide, but that was all Peterborough had offered by way of attacking intent in the opening 45 minutes to entertain their small band of 150 travelling fans.
Watched by their own lowest league home gate of the season, 15,675, Wanderers continued to control the game after the break without really looking the same threat.
Freedman threw on Craig Davies for Marvin Sordell to try to get his side back on the boil but while Posh continued to lack the quality to take up the advantage, the longer the game went on at 1-0, the more nerves would be on show.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing flashed another warning shot across the boughs on the hour mark and by that point, even the impeachable Dawson was letting mistakes creep into his game.
Ngog let a big chance to settle the nerves slip when he combined seamlessly with Craig Davies only to place a shot narrowly wide of Ojelnik’s post.
Freedman made his last change, bringing on skipper Kevin Davies for Ngog, but aside from a fizzing shot from Alonso that whizzed just past the post, chances were at a premium.
Peterborough were being given plenty of encouragement by the constant surrendering of possession.
Thankfully, all the tension came to nothing.