Result: Doncaster Rovers 0 Peterborough United 2: Doncaster go down to play-off rivals

Rovers' Jonson Clarke Harris shields the ball from Ricardo Santos

Rovers' Jonson Clarke Harris shields the ball from Ricardo Santos

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Doncaster Rovers lost ground in the race for the top six as they went down to play-off rivals Peterborough United.

Luke James nodded Posh into a first half lead which the visitors defended stoutly.

Former Rovers loanee Ben Alnwick made several vital saves in goal for Peterborough before Connor Washington sealed a fourth win on the spin for United with a late breakaway goal.

Defeat saw Doncaster drop to 10th in the League One table, with Barnsley, Peterborough, Fleetwood and Bradford all moving above them.

Paul Dickov sprung something of a surpise by starting Curtis Main at the tip of a midfield diamond, with new boy Jonson Clarke-Harris partnering Nathan Tyson up top.

The only clear cut chance during the scrappy opening exchanges fell to Posh, Newell breaking clear after a slack pass from Forrester but his shot was comfortably saved by Bywater.

It was the visitors who seized the initiative on 16 minutes, Taylor whipping in a cross from the right and James glancing it home with aplomb.

Rovers came close to a leveller when Main put Tyson in the clear but his effort was saved by Alnwick. In the aftermath the hosts claimed a penalty when Clarke-Harris tumbled in the box but referee Nigel Miller was not interested.

Forrester and Main were then both denied by Alnwick in quick succession as Rovers got into their stride.

At the other end Bywater was at full stretch to palm away Bostwick’s 25-yard hit, before Forrester’s teasing cross was headed over from underneath his own bar by Smith.

As the game continued to flow, Tyson was denied again by Alnwick following a neat dummy from Wellens, while Taylor poked one just wide for Posh after some hesitant Doncaster defending.

Bywater was forced into another good save on the stroke of half time to keep out livewire Newell.

Rovers switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 for the second half, with Tyson switching to the left wing and Main moving further up field, and began the period brightly but without testing Alnwick.

Forrester clipped an effort over the bar before being replaced by Bennett but as the game entered its final quarter Rovers had lost a bit of impetus.

United, hard-working and well-drilled, were more of a threat on the counter attack now, Newell testing Bywater’s handling with a half volley.

Bennett came close to an equaliser when he let fly from the edge of the box but his effort fizzed just over.

Rovers looked set to launch a late rally but another superb save from Alnwick, this time with his legs to deny Main from close range, set Posh on the attack for a killer second goal, Washington prodding home after being teed up by substitute Vassell.

Rovers: Rovers: Bywater, Wabara, McCullough, Butler, Stevens, Wellens, Furman (Razak 82), Forrester (Bennett, 66), Clarke-Harris, Main, Tyson (Robinson 74).Subs: Marosi, McCombe, Evina, Middleton.

Peterborough: Alnwick, Smith, Nlthe (Brisley 90), Bostwick, Taylor, Payne, James (Vassell 86), Washington, Newell (Anderson 76), Santos, Zakuani.Subs: Henry, Oztumer, Norris, Beautyman.