Darren Ferguson knows Peterborough are in with a chance of automatic promotion from League One after a 3-1 victory over Stevenage.

Posh, with a game in hand, closed to within four points of the top two after reeling off a fifth successive win.

The visitors should have had a penalty for a Josh Knight handball just after the half-hour before Posh snatched a 44th-minute lead from the spot through Harrison Burrows.

Jadel Katongo doubled the lead with a stunning first English Football League goal of his career in the 64th minute before Kwame Poku smashed in a 77th-minute clincher as Posh climbed into fourth ahead of a super Saturday when they host table-topping Portsmouth, while second-placed Derby do battle with Bolton in third.

Nick Freeman hit a consolation for Stevenage, who remain in the final play-off spot.

Ferguson said: “We were nowhere near our normal quality, but I can’t expect us to be perfect all the time.

“What I do need is for us to find a way of winning games and we did that by being ruthless.

“We made it hard for ourselves but we still managed to overcome an opponent who were just as tough as we knew they would be. Stevenage are not sixth in the league for no reason at this stage of the season.

“We told the lads a while ago to stay in touch and get to March. I always felt this month would be pivotal and that we really had to go for it, and there’s no doubt we’ve got a chance.

“We’ll roll the players out again on Saturday against Portsmouth. It’s the sort of game you want to be involved in.

“They’ve been the best team so far, they’re bringing 4,000 with them and we need our fans more than we’ve needed them all season.”

Stevenage are one point above seventh-placed Blackpool as the play-off race hots up.

Boss Steve Evans insisted: “The best team lost tonight. We just were not as clinical as Peterborough were.

“The balance of the game changed when we didn’t get a penalty and Peterborough did get one.

“I’m not disputing theirs is a penalty, but there is a clear and obvious handball in their box in the 31st minute and the referee gives a goal kick.

“We’re somehow going to have to go above these decisions to get into the play-offs. Managers get the sack, but referees just get told to be better.

“It’s always a problem when you’re not scoring goals. We have to take our chances more but we’re going through a little spell where our strikers are not finding the net.

“Peterborough are a wonderful team to watch when they get into flow and I wish them every success. I really hope they go on to win promotion and the Bristol Street Motors Trophy as well.”