Darrell Clarke has called for Cheltenham’s fans to travel in numbers as they bid to escape the drop in League One with a final-day win at Stevenage.

Tuesday’s 2-0 home victory over Peterborough kept their hopes alive, sealed by first-half goals from Joe Nuttall and Matty Taylor, leaving them two points behind Burton.

They must win at Stevenage and hope Burton fail to beat Fleetwood and or Cambridge lose to Port Vale.

“I thought the boys were magnificent tonight and we needed to be,” Clarke said.

“Now, we take it to the last game of the season. It was a really good atmosphere tonight and the fans were great so hopefully we can get as many of them as possible down to Stevenage and fill the away end because we need everybody there trying to cheer us on for a win.

“When I came in we had one point and no goals, so of course I would have snapped your hand off for this position with one game left, with 44 points.

“The lads have been magnificent over a period of time and there is a real togetherness in the group, even when we took a lot of knocks recently.

“We have bounced back and found that really good performance. We need to find that last really good performance in the last game of the season.”

With their play-off spot already secured, Posh boss Darren Ferguson rested a host of regulars, making seven changes.

And his youthful side were blown away in the first half by the Robins, who knew anything other than a win meant relegation with one game to play.

Nuttall reacted quickest to bundle the ball over the line from close range after goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic could only parry Liam Sercombe’s shot in the 11th minute.

The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when Taylor brought down a ball forward from Lewis Freestone and applied an expert finish.

Taylor crashed a shot against the post in the 32nd minute after Liam Kinsella’s pass and Elliott Bonds forced Bilokapic into a smart save two minutes later.

Posh threatened through Ricky-Jade Jones before half-time, but they were second best and Taylor and Bonds both forced Bilokapic into evasive action in the second half.

At the other end, Luke Southwood parried Jonson Clarke-Harris’ shot in the 58th minute and kept out a late header from the centre forward.

Ferguson admitted his team struggled from the first whistle.

“They got on top of us and we couldn’t sustain any sort of control,” he said.

“The goals were terrible goals to give away, you can’t give goals away like that.

“We spoke about the first 20 minutes before we left the hotel – we had to see that through and try and make sure we dealt with them because we knew they’d be straight down our throats and they were and we conceded two soft goals.

“There were certain things we worked on that we didn’t do well enough, but the goals were poor and you can’t give goals away like that, especially tonight because they got so much energy from it.

“The longer the game went on and they hadn’t scored, the more chances we were going to get. We knew we had pace in behind and I have to say we had five or six very good opportunities as well.

“Congratulations to Cheltenham, they go into Saturday still with a chance of staying up.”

Cheltenham kept their survival hopes alive going into the final day of the League One season after a 2-0 home win over promotion-chasing Peterborough.

First-half goals from Joe Nuttall and Matty Taylor took Town, in the final relegation place, two points behind Burton.

With their play-off spot already secured, Posh boss Darren Ferguson rested a host of regulars, making seven changes.

And his youthful side were blown away in the first half by the Robins, who knew anything other than a win meant relegation with one game to play.

Nuttall reacted quickest to bundle the ball over the line from close range after goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic could only parry Liam Sercombe’s shot in the 11th minute.

The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when Taylor brought down a ball forward from Lewis Freestone and applied an expert finish.

Taylor crashed a shot against the post in the 32nd minute after Liam Kinsella’s pass and Elliott Bonds forced Bilokapic into a smart save two minutes later.

Posh threatened through Ricky-Jade Jones before half-time, but they were second best and Taylor and Bonds both forced Bilokapic into evasive action in the second half.

At the other end, Luke Southwood parried Jonson Clarke-Harris’ shot in the 58th minute and kept out a late header from the centre forward.

Cheltenham must beat Stevenage on Saturday and hope that Burton fail to win at Fleetwood and or Cambridge lose to Port Vale, if they are to escape the drop.

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson praised his promotion-chasing team’s defensive performance following their 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.

Ferguson spoke out after a first-half volley from Joel Randall and substitute Ricky Jade-Jones’s classy stoppage-time gave the Posh a morale-boosting victory as they get ready for the play-offs.

“I told the players that clean sheets will end up getting us promoted and it really is as simple as that,” Ferguson said.

“That’s why I enjoyed that win a lot and I’m really pleased with the players, especially in terms of what we did out of possession.

“I asked them to be more solid and compact and they did that really well and were really well organised. We limited them to next to no clear-cut chances.

“Keeping clean sheets is not simple to do and that’s why we had a good meeting before the game when we went through everything in detail.

“We looked back at some of the chances we’ve been giving up so and I asked them to be more connected and the players deserve lots of credit as they were outstanding.”

Ferguson was also pleased with his goal-scorers after Randall took his personal tally of goals to 11 while Jones now has 13 goals to his name.

“I still had one eye on if Derby slipped up and we were getting told about the Derby score but we just had to concentrate on our jobs here,” Ferguson added.

“After the first 10 minutes we got control and some of our football was outstanding.

“I was especially pleased with Joel because we’d been asking the team to team to get more bodies into the box to support our striker Jonson Clarke-Harris. And with Ricky we’d been asking him to get in front of his man more so it was really pleasing when he made the points safe.”

Rovers manager Matt Taylor said the result highlighted his team’s shortcomings.

“Their physicality was one thing that stood out for me,” Taylor said. “They were not only able to wriggle out of but drive out of certain situations and it showed there’s a real need for a added profile to this group.

“We have some fantastic ball players but speed, pace and power are other huge assets at this level and they had both the ball players and that today which is why they are such a good team.”

Taylor, who was without suspended striker Chris Martin, added: “We didn’t get close enough to man and ball often enough in the first half and we gave them too much respect certainly in the deeper layers of the pitch.

“They were able to go through the pitch on the back of it and it was a poor opening goal to concede. We forced more moments after the break but it didn’t materialise in the box.”

Goals from Joel Randall and substitute Ricky Jade-Jones secured promotion-chasing Peterborough a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.

Former Rovers striker Jonson Clarke-Harris was handed a chance to show his old club what they are missing as Peterborough dominated but ended up being upstaged by his colleagues.

Midfielder Randall put Darren Ferguson’s side in command with his 11th goal this season on 41 minutes with a cool close-range volley following Malik Mothersille’s deflected cross.

After the break, Peterborough goalkeeper Jed Steer came to his team’s rescue with a smart save to thwart Scott Sinclair after the former Celtic winger outwitted Josh Knight in the penalty box.

Steer then pulled off a fine stop to deny Rovers skipper Antony Evans when he let fly from distance as the hosts pressed for an equaliser but there was to be no stopping Peterborough.

Jade-Jones, on for Mothersille, applied the finishing touch in the fifth minute of stoppage time with a back-heeled effort for his 13th goal this term after being teed up by Harrison Burrows.

Fleetwood boss Charlie Adam admitted his side were masters of their own downfall after being left on the brink of relegation from League One following a 4-1 defeat at Peterborough.

The Cod Army are facing up to a future in League Two after being left six points from safety with just two games to go.

They only have themselves to blame after Promise Omochere and Bosun Lawal both missed penalties before Adam’s men were put to the sword by play-off bound Posh.

Lawal fired Fleetwood ahead after just 13 seconds and then earned the ninth-minute penalty that Omochere saw saved by Posh keeper Jed Steer.

Malik Mothersille fired Posh level with his first English Football League goal and the game was still in the balance when Lawal was denied from the spot by Steer with 15 minutes to go.

Posh then took command with Archie Collins’ 81st-minute strike being followed by a stoppage-time brace from substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris.

Adam admitted: “I’m gutted for the players and supporters. That performance did not deserve that result.

“To come here and show the character that we did, I’m really proud of the players, but we walk away extremely disappointed.

“We had the perfect start, but when you get big moments in games you have to take them and we have missed two penalties.

“The two lads stepped up and were brave enough to take them, but unfortunately for us they missed them.

“The dressing room is quiet and flat. Of course it’s going to be as we’re in a position we don’t want to be.

“We have to win two games and see where we are at the end of the season.

“The lads will be off tomorrow, we’ll come back in Thursday and prepare as we always do. The challenge is to finish on two positive results to take into next season.”

Peterborough are six points off the automatic-promotion spots with a game in hand.

Boss Darren Ferguson said: “Starting the game in the way we did – conceding a goal like that without even touching the ball – is bordering on the unprofessional.

“I never felt comfortable throughout the game, but we managed to get the reaction we wanted from Saturday by winning the game.

“If I was Charlie I would be really disappointed with the two penalties as they’ve both been pretty comfortable saves for Jed. It was a case of getting out of jail really for us.

“Jonno came on, set one up and scored two; Jed made the two penalty saves; Malik came in and scored so there were positives for sure, but there are things we have to tidy up.

“We’re in the play-offs now and another point secures us being at home in the second leg.

“Second place is obviously Derby’s to throw away but football works in many strange ways and they still need a win.”

Fleetwood were left hanging onto their League One status by a thread after missing two penalties in a 4-1 drubbing at Peterborough.

Promise Omochere and Bosun Lawal both fluffed their lines from the spot when being denied by Posh keeper Jed Steer before an avalanche of late goals secured Posh’s play-off place and left the Cod Army six points from safety with just two games to play.

Lawal fired Fleetwood into a shock lead after just 13 seconds and then earned the ninth-minute penalty that Omochere saw saved by Steer.

Posh striker Malik Mothersille tapped in his first English Football League goal from David Ajiboye’s cross to bring the hosts level in the 17th minute.

But Charlie Adam’s men had another golden opportunity to boost their survival hopes when Omochere was brought down by Josh Knight for another spot-kick with 15 minutes to go, only for Lawal to see his effort saved by Steer.

Posh then struck three times late on to wrap up a win that maintained their outside chance of automatic promotion with Archie Collins coolly slotting them ahead in a one-on-one situation in the 81st minute.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris then finished the job by bagging a quickfire brace in the fifth and sixth minutes of stoppage time.

Oxford United boss Des Buckingham described his team’s 5-0 win over play-off rivals Peterborough as “without doubt the most enjoyable experience of my time here”.

Ruben Rodrigues scored twice with the other goals from a Mark Harris penalty, Josh Murphy and substitute Billy Bodin.

It took Oxford’s tally to 13 goals without reply in their last three games and puts them five points clear of Lincoln, who visit the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night.

Murphy was the star of the show, destroying Posh in the first half, while Owen Dale and Greg Leigh also hit the post.

Buckingham, who spent many years as a youth team coach at Oxford before returning from India to manage them, said: “It’s without doubt the most enjoyable experience of my time here.

“It was very exciting. And the way the players bounced off the fans, and the fans bounced off the players, was fantastic.

“That’s certainly the best football we’ve played since I’ve been here.

“There is a real clear understanding about the way we want to play and there is a real clear understanding about what we want to do.

“The players were excellent right across the pitch considering that we lost Cameron Brannagan and Elliott Moore to fitness decisions late on Friday.

“Today the players carried out exactly what we wanted them to do almost exactly to the letter.

“It’s been a really good couple of weeks. But we’re not naive enough to think we’re in the play-offs already.

“We need to recover well and prepare well enough to put on a performance like that against Lincoln on Tuesday.”

Peterborough’s defeat is a massive blow to their hopes of claiming one of the automatic promotion places.

Posh boss Darren Ferguson said: “I must admit I didn’t see that coming.

“We were absolutely outclassed in every single department.

“We started strongly and confidently, then gifted them two goals.

“I was hoping then that if we could get to half-time and it’s only two, we could do things to change it. But then they got a third.

“Sometimes, though, you have to give credit to the opposition, they were outstanding. Quite honestly, it could have been 10. We got away with it being only 5-0.

“We didn’t have the quality in any department. All the quality on the pitch came from Oxford.

“The manner of the defeat was very, very disappointing. No excuses from us but I cannot accept that.

“The players have got to react quickly and now make sure we get in the play-offs because we’re not they’re yet. And I’ve got some difficult decisions to make now for the next game.”

Josh Murphy inspired Oxford to an emphatic 5-0 win over Peterborough that keeps them on track for the League One play-offs.

Despite being without key players Elliott Moore and Cameron Brannagan, the U’s were brimming with confidence following successive four-goal wins, and were three up by the break.

They took the lead in the 19th minute when Jadel Katongo fouled Murphy in the box and Mark Harris blasted home the spot-kick.

Murphy headed in keeper Jed Steer’s clearance to make it 2-0 just after the half hour, and the pacy midfielder created the third in the 39th minute for Ruben Rodrigues, who finished neatly from 12 yards.

Owen Dale also hit the post and missed an open goal before the interval, with Oxford dominant.

Posh had chances too, Ricky-Jade Jones missing from close range and striking the underside of the bar from Ephron Mason-Clark’s cross.

Visiting boss Darren Ferguson showed his displeasure by hauling off four players at the interval, but Rodrigues met Finn Stevens’ cross with a sublime diving header after 58 minutes to make it 4-0.

Greg Leigh then hit the post before substitute Billy Bodin completed the rout in the 89th minute with a fine individual effort.

Darren Ferguson piled praise on his “relentless” Peterborough players after they followed up EFL Trophy success by boosting their automatic promotion bid.

Posh jumped to within six points of second-placed Derby – and also boast two games in hand – by brushing aside struggling Vale.

Joel Randall broke the deadlock in the final seconds of the first half with a blast that took a double deflection on its way past Connor Ripley after Harrison Burrows’ short corner.

EFL Trophy final hero Burrows doubled the advantage from the penalty spot 11 minutes into the second half and the Posh captain was again the architect when his 86th-minute cross was headed into his own net by Alex Iacovitti to compound Vale’s misery as they dropped back into the bottom four on goal difference.

Delighted Posh boss Ferguson said: “That is as well as we have played at home for a long time.

“It was a really good performance from my team… mature, confident, some great football and a clean sheet.

“We didn’t panic when the first goal took a while to come and then we had complete control in the second half.

“I was really pleased with the result but the manner of the performance at this stage of the season is what delighted me the most.

“People might have wondered what we would look like after Sunday but we were so fresh physically and running all over them.

“These lads are relentless. I have to give them and the staff a lot of credit.

“We know Derby drew and dropped points but we just keep looking at the next game. I’ve already watched Oxford today and we’ll look no further ahead than that on Saturday.”

Vale boss Darren Moore admitted: “It was a difficult night for us.

“If we could have got to the break with the scores level, it might have created a bit of anxiety around the place.

“But the first goal on the stroke of half time really changed my team-talk and gave us a mountain to climb in the second half.

“Peterborough are an excellent and free-scoring team with a lot of attacking options and move the ball really well. Up to a point, the boys stuck to the gameplan to nullify and contain them well.

“It’s just disappointing to concede the first and second goals in the manner we did from corners as we’d worked on that.

“The first goal took two deflections and the second one is a switch-off at the far post which leads to a penalty.

“The third one is then an own goal but I’ve got no complaints in terms of the commitment and energy the boys showed.”

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.

Darren Ferguson admitted Peterborough got “a bit of luck” as they defeated Wycombe 2-1 to win the Bristol Street Motors Trophy final in dramatic fashion.

Harrison Burrows scored twice, either side of a Dale Taylor equaliser, in a game where all of the goals came between the 86th minute and first minute of stoppage time.

Burrows joined Peterborough at the age of six and was in the crowd a decade ago when they defeated Chesterfield in the same competition.

Boss Ferguson said of his skipper: “We managed to get a bit of luck with Burrows, he’s put it in – whether he meant it as a shot or a cross doesn’t really matter. What a story for that kid.

“For that boy, you couldn’t have written it better. It’s unbelievable, he’s been amazing this season.

“We’ve had to work with him in terms of his position, everyone knows it’s not a natural position for him at left-back.

“For me, he’s been the most consistent player in the whole league.

“I’m also delighted for the fans because last time we were here was 10 years ago. We might not get here for another decade, so when you get the opportunity you’ve got to make the most of it.”

In a game of half-chances, it looked like Burrows had earned victory with an 85th-minute strike from Ephron Mason-Clark’s cutback that goalkeeper Franco Ravizzoli could not hold.

However, with his first touch of the game after coming on as substitute, Taylor connected with a loose ball from a deep free-kick from outside the area that Jed Steer could not keep out.

Burrows snatched victory when his swirling cross from practically on the touchline flew over the head of Ravizzoli and into the net to break Wycombe hearts.

Chairboys manager Matt Bloomfield admitted it was tough to take, and said: “I’m disappointed but proud of the way that the team played, the spectacle that we put on between two League One teams with both of us trying to play a certain way.

“I’m very disappointed for the players and the supporters, we deserved something out of the day.

“First and foremost, congratulations to Darren and his team, they’ve got some very good players who have been or will be sold for multi-million pounds.

“When we got back to 1-1 you think that the day could be yours, but it’s cruel to lose in that manner.

“The second goal was maybe a sign that the day was not meant to be ours.”

Paul Simpson hailed hat-trick hero Jon Mellish after Carlisle produced one of the shocks of the season in Sky Bet League One.

Matchwinner Mellish bagged a first career hat-trick as the basement boys left Posh’s automatic promotion hopes in tatters with just their sixth win of a miserable season.

Mellish headed Simpson’s men into a 27th-minute lead, which he doubled with a smart volley three minutes into the second half.

The midfield ace completed his treble just before the hour with another spectacular volley before captain Harrison Burrows pulled a goal back for the hosts.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris hit the bar late on as Darren Ferguson’s high-fliers flopped to fall 10 points behind the top two.

Simpson said: “I’m absolutely delighted for the players and the staff but even more happy for the supporters who made the long journey.

“The lads deserve huge credit for the way they went about it and they were three fantastic finishes from Jon. It’s a brilliant win and it’s all about getting some respect and pride back.

“I told Jon I wanted him to get his crazy legs going and cause problems and everyone saw that is what he did!

“We were brave to go short with our first corner and it led to Jon getting himself a free header for a good goal and the next two are fantastic finishes.

“And when we had to change to a back-five to shore things up, he slotted in at centre-back and did a good job.

“He’s an important player for us and he’s had a tough season in terms of goals as he usually gets a lot more, but a hat-trick like this is a great reward.”

Stunned Peterborough boss Darren Ferguson said: “It’s a terrible result and I’m very disappointed.

“How do I explain today? Probably the best way is that collectively we had an off-day and I include myself in that.

“Forget about league tables and how many points you have – if a team performs like we did today they will get beaten.

“We conceded three really soft goals and the lack of quality in the last third is not something I’ve seen from my players this season.

“You can get away with it when two or three players aren’t at it – but not when we all got a three out of 10.

“Maybe I gave the lads too many days off and maybe I could have made changes sooner. These are all things I have to question before I look at the level of performance.

“We’ve got a mountain to climb to get into the top two, but I’m experienced enough to know there is no reason to press the panic button.”

Jon Mellish scored a hat-trick as rock-bottom Carlisle stunned promotion-chasing Peterborough with a shock 3-1 success in Sky Bet League One.

Midfielder Mellish, who had only previously scored twice all season, did the damage as Paul Simpson’s basement boys bagged just a sixth win of a torrid campaign.

Mellish rose unchallenged to meet substitute Jordan Gibson’s cross after Posh switched off from a Dylan McGeouch short corner as Carlisle took a 27th minute lead.

The same man doubled their advantage three minutes into the second half when he struck an impressive volley past Posh goalkeeper Jed Steer, following a weak defensive header from England Under-20 defender Ronnie Edwards.

Mellish was not done there, completing a memorable treble in the 58th minute with another spectacular left-footed volley after the hosts failed to deal with a McGeouch cross.

Posh quickly hit back as captain Harrison Burrows slammed a 61st-minute shot through a crowd of players from the edge of the box but that was as good as it got as Darren Ferguson’s men flopped.

Substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris fluffed a glorious chance to cut the arrears further, before also being denied by the bar late on as the courageous Cumbrians stood firm.

John Mousinho hailed a player he dropped for helping Portsmouth take another big step towards the Championship with a 1-0 win at Peterborough.

The Pompey chief left out two-goal midweek hero Kusini Yengi for a crunch clash at promotion rivals Peterborough.

But the Australian ace responded by climbing off the bench to grab the only goal that kept Portsmouth five points clear at the summit.

Yengi, sent on after Christian Saydee limped off in the first half, raced on to a pass from fellow substitute Gavin Whyte in the 77th minute to fire past Posh keeper Jed Steer.

Peterborough still look bound for the play-offs despite their five-match winning streak coming to an end.

Top-scorer Ephron Mason-Clark blasted against the bar midway through the first half as they drew a blank for just the third time all season in League One.

“I really feel for him,” said Mousinho about match-winner Yengi. “It wasn’t an easy decision to leave him out.

“He scored twice on Tuesday night and his overall performance was really good.

“He has been excellent whenever he has played and his goalscoring record is superb.

“It could have been a difficult one to take, but he was really professional about it when told yesterday. He trained really well in the afternoon, stayed positive around the place and thoroughly deserved his goal.

“At this stage of the season it is all about winning games, but it was a really good performance from us as well.

“The fans made it a special day. That was probably the best away atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.

“To be able to win the game and put in that performance was superb. It was pure relief at the final whistle.

“We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep winning as many games as possible.”

Posh boss Darren Ferguson said: “I’m really disappointed with the result, but really proud of the performance.

“We were by far the better team on the day and they’re really lucky to come away with a win.

“If anyone from Portsmouth says otherwise, they are kidding themselves.

“We controlled large parts of the game. Some of the play was fantastic.

“But football can be a cruel game and we just couldn’t get that first goal.

“You always need that bit of luck in big games, but we didn’t have it when Ephron hit the underside of the bar.

“I’m gutted for the players as they didn’t deserve to lose the game. You’d rather win and have a bad performance like on Wednesday.

“But if we play like that in the last eight games, we’ll be fine. I’ve still got a lot of confidence that we’re in a good place.

“The break has come at a good time to freshen up for a last push.”

Portsmouth took another big step towards the League One title with a vital 1-0 victory at promotion rivals Peterborough.

Australian striker Kusini Yengi climbed off the bench to grab the only goal in the 77th minute to send an army of 4,000 Pompey fans wild.

Yengi slammed his seventh of the season past Posh keeper Jed Steer to complete a ruthless breakaway after being picked out by fellow substitute Gavin Whyte’s pass.

And that was enough to extend the table-toppers’ unbeaten run to 12 games while bringing Posh’s five-match winning streak to an end.

Captain Harrison Burrows was inches away from giving Posh a first-half lead when steering a low shot past the far post.

Top-scorer Ephron Mason-Clark came even closer to breaking the deadlock when blasting against the bar.

That was soon followed by the best Pompey opportunity of the opening period as Colby Bishop headed a Marlon Pack free-kick straight at Steer.

Malik Mothersille saw a volley fly across the face of goal as Posh started the second half well, but it was Pompey who eventually made the breakthrough to move nine points clear of third place and closer to a Championship return.

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