City 1 Peterborough 3

ALMOST two years to the day since City last lost back-to-back games, it happened for the first time under Stuart McCall.

Having missed out on the chance of equalling a club record of successive away wins with Saturday's loss at Wimbledon, the Bantams suffered another costly slip-up against Peterborough yesterday.

McCall's men had prided themselves on the fact of always bouncing back from a defeat in the season and a half he has been back in charge.

But that honour bit the dust against a lively Posh side, whose victory more significantly trimmed City's advantage in a play-off spot to four points.

A year that has oozed consistency in terms of results, performances and position heads to its end with a bit of worrying uncertainty creeping in.

McCall had talked in his programme notes about the need to strengthen in the approaching transfer window – and that looks even more urgent after a couple of costly defeats that left any sense of goodwill thin on the ground.

How he would love to be able to call on the likes of a Jack Marriott or Marcus Maddison, who reached 21 goals and 21 assists respectively with two more each on the way to Peterborough's first win over City in five attempts.

It was also the sixth loss on home soil this season – last term's unbeaten run seems a lifetime away.

With Peterborough's dangerous attacking duo in mind, City's only change from the weekend had been a defensive one.

Left back Luke Hendrie came in for Jake Reeves, which allowed Tyrell Robinson to push forward into his natural wing role. Nicky Law moved into the centre.

The pitch was hardly conducive for a battle between two attack-minded sides. Mick Doyle and his ground team had worked hard in all weathers over Christmas but it was far removed from the carpet City had played on at Wimbledon. Then again, they did not have Chelsea's mega bucks to pay for it.

Peterborough certainly did not come to park the bus Plymouth-style and the contest was an open one from the off.

Paul Taylor nearly cashed in against his old club when he nicked the ball off centre half Ryan Tafazolli on the edge of the box, only for his touch to let him down as a great shooting chance went begging.

Maddison hit back with a purposeful break and clever reverse pass to set up Danny Lloyd but Rouven Sattelmaier got any post-Wimbledon jitters out of the system by blocking with his body.

The German followed up with an excellent save from a one-on-one with the same player after Marriott flicked him through.

But the Kop were still serenading him with chants of "Rouven, Rouven" as Posh grabbed the lead after 14 minutes, Lloyd making it third time lucky by lashing home a cross-shot after Marriott found him in plenty of space getting down the side on City's right.

It was a fourth goal in three games for Lloyd, who has been surprisingly put on the transfer list by Peterborough.

City could not say they had not been warned as they were left chasing parity for the second time in four days.

Lloyd was flying with confidence and pinged the outside of the post with another crack from a tight angle.

Taylor's response was a decent one with a curling effort wide but City's defence were finding it tough to pin down Peterborough's fluid attacking threat.

Romain Vincelot and Alex Penny needed treatment for a clash of heads as the Bantams skipper looked to get on the end of a free-kick.

But the hosts were left further dazed by a second Peterborough goal in the 33rd minute.

It was all about the quality of the left-wing cross from Maddison and Marriott did the rest with a firm header that gave Sattelmaier no chance. It was a high-quality effort from two players on top of their game.

For City, meanwhile, the afternoon was sliding from bad to worse and the edginess grew in the Valley Parade crowd as Peterborough continued to go forward at will. Tony McMahon and Adam Thompson, in particular, appeared leggy as they tried to keep a lid on the slippery Lloyd.

When City did have a go themselves, the visitors were not afraid to give away the odd 'strategic' foul. McMahon put one free-kick on Gilliead's head but the winger's flick flashed past the far post.

Gilliead had looked City's brightest spark and was entitled to shrug his shoulders in frustration when his inviting cross into the mix in added time went unrewarded with nobody attacking it.

Boos greeted the half-time whistle and McCall's response was a double change, Timothee Dieng and Shay McCartan replacing Hendrie and Thompson. Robinson and Vincelot dropped to defensive duties on the resumption.

But the first chance of the half again fell to Posh as Sattelmaier made himself big to deny Lloyd once more after Maddison had hooked a pass over the top.

Jonathan Bond then produced a stunning save with his feet to deny City, kicking over the bar from Robinson after McCartan teed him up.

Penny was fortunate to stay on for a reckless lunge on Robinson – but that stoked up the volume levels as the Kop cranked it up.

The City changes had made a difference. Dieng twice headed over from corners and put another into Bond's arms from Matt Kilgallon's cross as the action became fixed in Peterborough territory.

Corner followed corner but Peterborough held firm – and then broke away from one with devastating effect to put the result to bed.

Maddison, who else, worked the ball forward, Robinson misjudged the flight of the ball and Marriott, who else, lobbed the exposed Sattelmaier for a third goal.

There looked no way back after being caught cold like that.

Taylor offered a late note of defiance with a stunning volley into the top corner – proving a point to Posh boss Grant McCann if nothing else. But City could not clamber off the floor as Boxing Day defeat left them out for the count.