Peterborough United 4 (Hughes 44, Maddison 59,pen, Marriott 81, 84) Charlton 1 (Zyro 74).
Kevin Nolan reports from London Road.
Capable of plumbing unexplored depths of ineptitude, Charlton's play-offs credentials were exposed as fanciful by bright, buoyant Peterborough, whose victory catapulted them over their victims into the last play-offs spot. As usual in this mediocre division, favourable results elsewhere sustained the mathematical illusion that the Addicks are still alive and kicking. Indeed, if they win the first of their games in hand, in the last chance saloon at Blackpool on Tuesday evening, they could feasibly force their way back into the top six. The standard is frankly that poor.
In contention during all but the last minute of an even first half, the Addicks were looking forward to the break when, with an inevitability sickeningly familiar to their long-suffering fans, they conceded in chaotic circumstances. It was downhill from that point with a missed penalty compounding their misery.
Forced into further changes by recent injuries to Jay Dasilva and Ahmed Kashi, Karl Robinson boldly named Naby Sarr at left back while delegating holding midfield responsibility to Johnnie Jackson in what appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 departure from the tried but untrue 4-2-3-1 formation. Neither move was an unqualified success. As huge as Dasilva is diminutive, Sarr tried his best but struggled to cope in his unfamiliar role; Jackson, meanwhile, contributed neat touches and constructive passes but the advancing years have eaten into the dynamism which galvanised so many games during a stellar career. He also played a passive part in the missed penalty which, it could be argued, effectively ended Charlton's prospects.
Opening positively, the visitors forced a flurry of early corners and created the better chances. After nine minutes, Joe Aribo's pass allowed Josh Magennis to cut inside from the left to sting Jonathan Bond's palms with a rasping drive; Sarr's long throw was then knocked down by Magennis for Jake Forster-Caskey to bury a volley into the keeper's midriff; Ezri Konsa and Aribo freed Sullay Kaikai to fire an angled shot against the intelligently positioned Bond. At the other end, Omar Bogle's enterprising run made an opening through which the dangerous striker burst to rattle Ben Amos' right-hand post. A competitive but goalless first half was petering out when Posh predictably broke through.
Marcus Maddison's left-sided free kick was met by right back Andrew Hughes's header at the far post but was briefly scraped clear to Joe Ward. With the Addicks in disarray, Ward's cleverly flighted cross was dispatched via Hughes' skilfully cushioned volley into the bottom right corner. A man on a singleheaded mission to revitalise the centre parting, new Peterborough boss Steve Evans hastily revised his intended interval address accordingly.
There was a rude shock in store for weight-watching Evans immediately after resumption as Liam Shepherd's needless shove into Magennis' back was belatedly punished by referee Huxtable, with the help of a rather more eagle-eyed assistant. Assuming spot-kick duties for the first time, Magennis planted a tame effort wide, with better bet Jackson clearly reluctant to step up to the mark.
The effects of Magennis' miss were still being assessed when Maddison earned and helpfully demonstrated the right way to take a penalty. Accelerating past Sarr into the area, the left-footed setpiece expert suckered the novice left back into leaving a foot where a foot didn't belong and tumbled under the boneheaded challenge. From 12 unopposed yards, Maddison was never likely to miss. Nor did he.
With nothing to lose, Robinson turned to Michal Zyro, who replaced the disconsolate Magennis with 25 minutes remaining. The tall, well-built Pole settled down confidently and did enough to stake a valid claim for selection at Blackpool. His well-judged header deftly glanced fellow substitute Ben Reeves' accurate cross past Bond to reduce the arrears and inspired brief hope of an unlikely second recovery from 2-0 down against Posh. Grotesquely botched headed chances by Tarique Fosu, from Zyro's fine cross and Forster-Caskey's corner respectively, hardly helped the cause before hope was quashed by a pair of late strikes from Jack Marriott, League One's top scorer.
Marriott's first goal owed much to the persistence of Danny Lloyd, who refused to accept that Chris Forester's long raking pass would run out of play over the left byline. His lungbursting commitment was capped by a cutback squeezed across to Marriott, who swept home his 20th league goal of the season at the near post. His 21st followed three minutes later as Referee Huxtable applied intelligent advantage when Sarr clumsily wiped out Maddison on the right touchline, allowing Shephard to run on to the loose ball and deliver a low, bouncing centre which Marriott stooped to nod past Amos. The rout was complete. Yet another tour-de-farce from Charlton. And unless the worm begins its turn at Bloomfield Road, still one more season in the steady decline of a club with a proud past, a decaying present and an uncertain future.
Peterborough: Bond, Shephard, Hughes, Baldwin, Forrester, Maddison, Marriott, Ward (Doughty70), Da Silva Lopes (Anderson 83), Bogle (Lloyd 76), Taylor.Not used: O'Malley, Morais, Freestone, Cooper. Booked: Baldwin.
Charlton: Amos, Solly, Konsa, Pearce, Sarr, Jackson (Ajose 68), Aribo, Forster-Caskey, Kaikai (Reeves 64), Fosu, Magennis (Zyro 64). Not used: Maynard-Brewer, Bauer, Marshall, Lennon.
Referee: B. Huxtable.