Fergie demands Peterborough resurgence
Peterborough United boss Darren Ferguson believes 'the league is over' if his side don't turn around their form quickly after watching his side slump to their fourth straight defeat in League One.
Lucas Atkins secured the points for Stevenage in the 20th minute with a classy strike, which was the exception in a match low on quality.
The visitors could even afford to have a man sent off when Jimmy Smith was given his marching orders for two bookable offences midway through the second half but Ferguson's side couldn't find an equaliser.
The Posh chief admitted that anything less than six points against fellow promotion hopefuls, Brentford and Wolves, in their next two games could see their hopes of an automatic return to the Championship all but over.
'We need to win the next two games, there's no question of that,' he told the club's official website after slipping eight points behind second-placed Wolves. 'To fall that far behind to anyone at this stage of the season is not good enough.
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'If the roles were reversed and we were well ahead of Wolves then I wouldn't be expecting them to catch us. That's the top and bottom of it, we have to win these next two games. It's that crucial. We are playing catch-up and we can't let that lead at the top lengthen any more.'
The free-flowing football that has been the hallmark of Ferguson's Peterborough sides has suddenly gone missing and the 41-year-old has told his team they must start showing a lot more courage in games if they are to emerge from this slump.
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'Sometimes it's not about the ability, sometimes it's about character,' he added. 'I have to see that – that doesn't mean going around booting people. It means getting on the ball, making a mistake and then getting on it again.
'I don't want anyone hiding and for the first 20 minutes I was shocked. I didn't see that coming going into the game, we had a really positive week. We're talking a good game at the moment and that's all we are doing.'
Ferguson had emphasised to his men the importance of a good start but they allowed Stevenage to take the initiative and were never able to wrestle it back from the Hertfordshire outfit.
'The crucial part of the game was the opening period,' he said. 'We wanted to start off on the front foot – I said that I would rather win 6-5 than 1-0, which didn't go down well with the goalkeeping coach but seriously I wanted to get back to playing the free-flowing football we know we can do.
'To then have our first shot at goal after 20 minutes means we did the opposite and that's the period of the game that we lost the game in.'