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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Full-Time: Rovers 2 Peterborough United 3

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Rovers were unable to fight back from a 3-goal deficit after an atrocious first-half performance saw them out of the game by the break. A first-half hat-trick from Gayle all but secured the three points for Peterborough, who had come into the game bottom of the table, and they will be delighted to pick up a vital three points after holding off a late rally from Rovers.

Peterborough were quickly on the front foot and went close inside the opening minutes through Swanson, but the midfielder fired over. It was an early warning for Rovers and one that they did not heed as Peterborough went ahead in the 11th minute when Kean did well to make a double save to deny Swanson, but parried the second save into the path of Gayle, who was left with the simple task of tapping the ball home. Gayle then doubled the away side's lead when Mendez-Laing crossed for the forward, who headed back across goal and past a stranded Kean in the Rovers goal. It was no more than Peterborough deserved and Gayle rounded off his hat-trick in only the 27th minute when he was once again on hand to finish after Kean had saved from Tomlin. This time Gayle calmly lifted the ball over the Rovers keeper before wheeling away in celebration. Peterborough's small away following were in disbelief at what they were seeing and could be loudly heard celebrating, even over the chorus of boos from the home supporters. Rovers pushed forward in an attempt to get something back before the break, but Rhodes missed a good opportunity to score when he fired over after Olejnik could only parry Dann's header. DJ Campbell then produced a fine finish to beat Olejnik, but the whistle had already gone and Rovers' joy was short-lived.

Appleton must have been appalled with what he had seen in the opening 45 minutes and made two changes to the side at half-time, bringing on new signings Stewart and Jones in place of the disappointing Bentley and Murphy. The changes seemed to breathe some life into the midfield and Rovers pushed forward in search of a goal. DJ Campbell missed a decent opportunity just after half-time, but Rovers would have to wait until the 73rd minute to finally score when Jordan Rhodes was put through by Campbell and the Scottish international made no mistake with his finish. Suddenly an improbable comeback seemed possible and Rovers took control of the game, but were able to create little and time quickly ran off the clock. Rovers thought that they had got another goal back when Rhodes' header was saved by Olejnik, but it appeared that the keeper may have crossed his own line in the process. But the referee waved away the appeals and play continued. It was a small moment of controversy, but Rovers did grab a second as the match went into injury time when Jones marked his debut with a goal by curling the ball around Olejnik after he had done well to collect and control the ball. It was an impressive debut from Jones, who added much-needed pace and drive to the midfield and it will be one of the few positives that Appleton and his team can take away from the match.

This result is a hammer blow to any hopes Rovers still had of making the play-offs and it now appears that the FA Cup is all that the team has left to play for. Wins for rivals Middlesbrough, Leeds, Brighton and Bolton make this defeat look even worse and Rovers will know that they have to be capable of beating teams in the relegation zone if they are to fulfil their ambitions of making it to the play-offs. They now sit 10 points adrift of the play-off places, with several of the teams above them holding a game in hand and with only 11 games to go in the season it is highly unlikely that they can close such a large gap.

The bright start under Appleton has faded quickly and Rovers will now have to focus on a long-term rebuilding plan as it looks fairly certain that they will face at least one more season in the Championship. The Raos were in attendance for today's game and it is unlikely that they were impressed by much of what they saw: a poor performance, a poor attendance and a defeat to a relegation-threatened side that all but ends Rovers play-off hopes.

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