City suffered a second Easter defeat as they were downed 3-1 by Peterborough United at the Weston Homes Stadium.
An Alex Hartridge own goal, Mason Ephron-Clark's strike and a Jonson Clarke-Harris close range finish was enough for the hosts, though Rekeem Harper's first City goal just a minute into the second half did give the Grecians hope.
Following on from the home loss on Good Friday to Bolton Wanderers, Gary Caldwell made two changes to the starting XI. Coming in at left wing back to replace Jack Sparkes was Jake Caprice and replacing James Scott for his first league start for City was 18-year-old Sonny Cox.
It was a raucous start to the game from the Posh, as Peterborough looked to take control of the possession from the off and the first scare of the game for City was allowing Ronnie Edwards space to run through the whole midfield only to be taken out 25 yards from goal by Archie Collins. They weren’t able to capitalise from the resulting free kick as the wall stood their ground and cleared it away.
With eight minutes on the clock the home side took advantage of their possession and opened the scoring. A cross from Kwame Poku took a wild deflection off Hartridge, who had tried to clear, and that wrong footed Blackman, allowing the hosts an early lead.
City were looking to rectify their errors at the back as they were starting to gain more control of the ball after the goal went in. After some lovely link up play between Nombe and Caprice, the wing back sent a searching ball into Collins who was operating in the ten role, but Will Norris came flying out and was able to smother the ball before it found a player in pink and grey.
City were forced into an early change just before the half hour mark as Kevin McDonald was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Sparkes. This led to a reshuffle of the pack as Caprice moved to right wing back, Key to the number ten and Sparkes to his usual left wing back position.
Peterborough came close once again, not long before the half time break, as one of their players sent an audacious effort towards goal and with Blackman rooted to the ground the ball just sailed wide of the far post.
As the game ticked over the 40th minute mark, the home side were able to double their lead though. A long ball over the top caught out City’s defence and there in waiting was Mason-Clark and with plenty of time he was able to lob the ball over Blackman, who was helpess to the effort.
City made their second change of the game at half time with Harper called upon to replace Kite in the middle of the park.
It was an immediate impact by Harper as he got a goal back for City two minutes into the second half, as Sonny Cox, making his first league start, dummied for Nombe, who saw his effort deflected straight into the path of Harper on the edge of the area and the central midfielder slotted the ball under Norris to make it 2-1.
The quick start to the second half didn’t stop there as Posh went straight down the other end with a chance for themselves and a searching ball into the area found Clarke-Harris but the league’s top scorer smashed the ball into the bar almost snapping it half while doing so.
City thought they had equalised in the 63rd minute after Sweeney put the ball into the back of the net from close range, but the referee adjudged Will Aimson to have made a foul in the build-up and ruled out the goal.
After City’s pressure and possession at the start of the second half it looked more likely for them to score next, however it was the home side who scored next making it 3-1. League One’s top goal scorer Clarke-Harris got in on the action smashing it into the net from close range after Sweeney's wrongly-angled header forced Blackman into a save, with Clarke-Harris poking home the rebound.
With time running out for City, Gary made his two final changes of the game with Hartridge and Cox departing to be replaced by Jonathan Grounds and James Scott to play out the final ten.
As the game ran through its final ten minutes, nothing seemed to fall for City and they were unable to improve their goal tally for the afternoon.
The next game for City is a home fixture against their arch-rivals Plymouth Argyle in the Devon derby on Saturday.
Peterborough: Norris, Edwards, Kent, Taylor, Clarke-Harris, Mason-Clark (Jade-Jones), Poku (Knight), Thompson, Ogbeta, Norburn (Kyprianou), Ward
Subs not used: Blackmore, Butler, Burrows, Tshimanga
City: Blackman, Key, Sweeney, Aimson ©, Hartridge (Grounds), Caprice (Mitchell), McDonald (Sparkes), Kite (Harper), Collins, Cox (Scott), Nombe
Subs not used: Lee, Borges,
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 8261 (479 Away)