A Joe Garner double sealed a 3-1 victory for Preston North End over former manager Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough side.
North End fought back from a goal down to dispatch play-off rivals Peterborough at Deepdale.
Danny Swanson gave the Posh the lead in the 18th minute after a slip-up from Neil Kilkenny but the midfielder redeemed himself by scoring a sublime equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Garner popped up with two goals in the final 10 minutes after débutante Alan Browne made an impressive cameo off the bench to set the striker up for his second and PNE’s third goal in the 90th minute.
PNE manager Simon Grayson made three changes to the starting line-up. Stuart Beavon started for the first time since December as Craig Davies dropped to the bench. The striker’s sweet touch allowed PNE to bag the crucial second goal as he impressed on his comeback.
Grayson has been forced to leave Josh Brownhill and Tom Clarke out of the side as they both picked up knocks in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat against Swindon Town.
But captain John Welsh and Jack King returned to the starting XI as North End avenged their 2-0 October away defeat against the Posh as they came from behind to win for the first time this season.
PNE started well, Beavon was fouled five yards outside the box in the 14th minute. Paul Gallagher stepped up to take the set-piece but his effort could not test the Peterborough goal.
Gallagher made himself some space on the left-hand side before curling a fierce strike towards the top right corner of goal that just skimmed off the top of bar in the 17th minute.
But less than a minute after Gallagher’s fizzing shot PNE found themselves a goal down. Neil Kilkenny gave the ball away and Danny Swanson was on hand to smash the ball past Declan Rudd into the back of the net.
Scott Wiseman was subbed off after receiving a knock in the 25 minute and Keith Keane played well after stepping in as right-back.
Kilkenny found himself in space on the edge of the area but his shot was deflected wide of the left post in the 33rd minute.
Rudd made a great save from a Britt Assombalonga shot in the 36th minute. Peterborough’s forward raced down the left hand side and smacked a low fizzing shot towards goal, but Rudd made himself big and blocked the danger.
Jack King smacked an effort through a crowd of bodies from 30 yards out in the 41st minute but his shot was comfortably saved by Bobby Olejnik.
Kilkenny went from villain to hero on the stroke of half-time. The Australia international was teed up on the right hand side of the penalty box by a pin-point Gallagher pass and he made no mistake, slotting the ball home into the bottom corner to score his first goal for the club.
The Posh’s Jack Baldwin was booked in first-half injury time for a meaty challenge on Gallagher and was subbed at half-time by Ferguson.
PNE upped the tempo at the start of the second half as a Gallagher shot from 25-yards out in the 51st minute was deflected wide for a corner.
In the 56th minute the ball fell to Nicky Ajose three-yards out but he could not bury a golden opportunity for the visitors after a weaving run from Joe Newell.
Ajose’s shot was deflected over by David Buchanan and Peterborough should have taken the lead from the subsequent corner but Rudd recovered to clear the danger.
Moments later up the other end Chris Humphrey saw his appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Mark Brown.
Lee Holmes replaced Chris Humphrey and the winger’s first notable contribution was to sky an effort high into the PNE fans in the Town End in the 69th minute.
PNE took the lead in the 80th minute. Gallagher curled in a teasing shot from just inside the area that rebounded back off the post into the path of Garner who pounced on the ball to bag his 21st goal of the season.
Holmes ran through on goal but he muddled his run and just managed to offload to the supporting Browne. The débutante spotted an on rushing Garner and the hit-man made no mistake smacking the ball past Olejnik in the 90th minute to seal victory.
PNE: Rudd, Wiseman (Keane, 25), King, Wright, Buchanan, Humphrey (Holmes, 63), Welsh, Kilkenny (Browne, 78), Gallagher, Garner, Beavon. Subs: Stuckmann, K Davies, C Davies, Laird.
Peterborough: Olejnik, Alcock, Baldwin (McQuoid, 46), Bostwick, Swanson, Payne, Assombalonga, Newell, Ajose (Washington, 74), Nugent, Little. Subs: Brisley, McCann, Day, Knight-Percival, Isgrove.
Referee: Mark Brown (Hull)
Attendance: 8,206 (160 away)