League One: Peterborough chairman celebrates achieving 'Operation Vengence' | Sunderland manager's relief of securing play-off spot
Darragh MacAnthony toasted how Peterborough pulled off their ‘Operation Vengeance’ mission to reach the Championship in dramatic style.
The Posh were among a minority of clubs – along with Pompey – who wanted last season’s League One fixture list to be fufilled amid the coronavirus outbreak.
However, when the campaign was curtailed and table decided by a points-per-game formula following a vote, it left Peterborough –who were in red-hot form before the shutdown of football – outside the play-offs.
MacAnthony took plenty of flak from supporters up and down the league and vowed he’d provide Darren Ferguson with a squad to go up automatically this term.
And that’s what the Posh achieved yesterday in a rollercoaster of a game against top-two rivals Lincoln.
Having found themselves 3-0 down at London Road, Peterborough forged a miraculous comeback, with Jonson Clarke-Harris’ 96th-minute penalty earning them a draw to confirm automatic promotion.
MacAnthony told the Peterborough Telegraph: ‘We’ve earned this promotion. It’s the best of my four promotions in 14 years or so without a doubt. No-one handed it us. There was no vote to get us up. We did it on the pitch.
‘All I wanted to get us back to the Championship. I took a lot of abuse last season for being the figurehead of the clubs who wanted to play on. I was right as well as it was safe to play on.
‘I feel responsible for what happens to the club, but we knew we had to get up this season. This was the time to do it. It was now or never. We recruited well and the players really dug deep to get us over the line. They’ve sweated blood and tears this season.
‘The football Gods are strange. We messed up against Doncaster on Tuesday and when we went 3-0 down against Lincoln I was done with football. I’m an emotional guy. That’s what I’m like.’
He said: ‘At the start of the season, probably not, it was about progressing and moving forward as a club.
‘I think we’ve done that in abundance. And we’ve given ourselves a great chance.
‘We’ve got two game that we have to be really professional with. We have to use that to our advantage, to make sure we’re fully prepared.’
Hull City clinched the third-tier crown with a 3-1 victory over Wigan Athletic.
The Latics, however, secured their League One status after Rochdale and Northampton were beaten by Doncaster (2-1) and Blackpool (3-0) respectively to be sent down to the Football League’s basement tier.
McCann said: ‘I couldn’t be more proud of everybody connected to this football club, particularly the fans because it has been a tough couple of years for them. We know what happened last season, and for them not to see this team live this season has been really tough for them.’
Sunderland’s 3-1 win at Plymouth was their first in eight matches. The Black Cats are up to third and they could face Pompey in the play-off semi-finals like two years ago.
Lee Johnson was relieved to secure a top-six berth after their automatic promotion charge faded last month.
The Sunderland chief said: ‘It wasn't a relief as such because I always had the belief that we would do it. The relief is that it's now: “Right, bang, here we go”.
‘That's genuinely how I feel. The boys are desperate for the mental rest and we can actually enjoy a performance going into the Northampton game (on the final day of the season) now.’
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