Pompey 2 Peterborough 3

Peterborough celebrate their injury-time winner as Jason Pearce and Jamie Ashdown stand dejected Picture: Barry Zee
Peterborough celebrate their injury-time winner as Jason Pearce and Jamie Ashdown stand dejected Picture: Barry Zee
Nathan Thompson has to make do with a substitute return today.

No starting place for returning Pompey pair

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From last-gasp hero to last-gasp villain.

Welcome to English football, Erik Huseklepp.

Pompey fans left Fratton Park chanting ‘Erik The Viking’ on Saturday.

The song made a reappearance after the final whistle last night, albeit out of support for the unfortunate Norwegian.

Huseklepp’s stunning volley brought the famous old ground to its feet against Blackpool.

He struck again last night – except it was in his own net to gift Peterborough an undeserved south coast triumph.

Such was the lateness of Huseklepp’s intervention, Pompey had barely restarted before referee Pat Miller blew his whistle for full-time.

Ryan Tunnicliffe surged down the left and delivered a ball into the middle which Huseklepp slid past his own keeper.

The unfortunate 26-year-old cut a forlorn figure come the final whistle, crumpling to the ground in disbelief.

It was the same turf which had given birth to a new Pompey hero just days before.

Last night, the player, who was involved in both goals at the right end for Steve Cotterill’s men, ultimately decided the game for the opposition.

It was the ultimate in cruel irony.

What’s more, it was so harsh on Pompey, who dominated a second half which had Peterborough gripping on for dear life to remain in touch.

Once Benjani equalised on 54 minutes to make it 2-2, the hosts stepped up their game to pummel Darren Ferguson’s men.

There was only going to be one winner – and the visitors knew it.

Then came that fateful moment as substitute Tunnicliffe launched the counter attack during four minutes of stoppage time.

Huseklepp did his duty of tracking back to offer vital defensive support.

Yet on this occasion, the last minute provided a moment to forget rather than a memory to relish.

Going in to the match, the back problem which flared up for Aaron Mokoena against Blackpool accounted for his absence from last night’s side.

It prompted another shuffling of the back line, with Greg Halford returning to centre-half and Joel Ward dropping back into the right-back berth.

In turn, Mokoena’s injury paved the way for new loanee Bjorn Helge Riise to make his Blues debut.

The Norwegian international, who joined the club from Fulham on Monday – wore the number 20, a shirt formerly sported by Ward and Yakubu, and occupied the right-hand side of midfield.

That meant a positional change for Liam Lawrence, who came into the centre of midfield alongside David Norris and Hayden Mullins.

Elsewhere, Benjani was given his fourth successive start as the central striker.

Pompey were to fall behind after just four minutes following a howler from Jamie Ashdown.

Lee Frecklington drove a shot in from just outside the area which the Blues keeper appeared to have covered.

Yet, inexplicably, the ball squirmed through his hands, ricocheted off the underside of the bar and entered the net.

It was a moment of high embarrassment for Ashdown who stood dejected as his shocked team-mates regrouped for the restart.

But within four minutes the match was all-square, albeit through another defensive mistake.

Huseklepp cut in from the left and prodded a right-footed shot which was drifting well wide of the far post.

Yet Gabriel Zakuani appeared from nowhere to crash the ball past his own keeper and into the net.

The visitors regained the lead in the 21st minute, and this time there could be no criticism for Ashdown.

Pompey failed to hack the ball clear after a break down the left and the ball was fed by George Boyd into the path of Frecklington.

The midfielder was several steps ahead of Huseklepp and made no mistake from just inside to box, smashing it past the keeper.

Pompey were looking vulnerable at the back with every Posh attack and, on 32 minutes, another Ashdown mistake almost proved costly.

Boyd crashed in a shot from the edge of the area which the Blues keeper fumbled, allowing the ball to bounce to Emile Sinclair. But the Blues defence swiftly closed him down and the moment had gone.

At the other end, on the stroke of half-time, good work from Norris and Riise saw the latter thread the ball through to Huseklepp down the left-hand side of the penalty area.

However, the 26-year-old could only screw his shot wide of the target from a difficult angle.

There were clearly more goals to come and, in the 54th minute, Benjani put the hosts back on level terms.

Huseklepp whipped in a low cross from the right which was missed by the desperate lunge of Zakuani and the veteran striker turned it home.

Mullins then produced a superb save from Paul Jones with a stinging 25-yarder, while the midfielder teed up Norris for a one-on-one which the keeper did well to parry low down.

Pompey were comfortably now the dominant force and an almighty scramble on 70 minutes saw, firstly Craig Alcock, and then Ryan Bennett hack the ball off the line.

It was all the hosts and still they pushed for what appeared was going to be the inevitable winner.

Tunnicliffe had other ideas, though, and Huseklepp’s delight from Saturday turned to despair last night as the late drama left Pompey empty-handed this time around.