BLACKBURN Rovers' play-off dreams look even more distant after a dire 3-2 home defeat to Peterborough this afternoon.

A hat trick from Posh striker Dwight Gayle within the first 27 minutes punished a shocking first half display from Michael Appleton's men, leaving them 10 points of the top six.

Helped by the introduction of debutants Dave Jones and Cameron Stewart at half time, Rovers improved after the break and Jordan Rhodes' strike gave the hosts hope.

Dave Jones added a second in injury time but it wasn't enough as the visitors held on to a deserved win.

The Rao brother were at Ewood Park to witness one of the worst first half performances seen by the home fans for a long time, as Peterbrough took control.

Danny Swanson should have fired them into the lead on just three minutes but his close range miss was soon made up for, as the Ewood faithful watched stunned.

The visitors opened the scoring on 10 minutes when, after Jake Kean saved twice from Swanson, Dwight Gayle was on hand to rifle home the loose ball.

The lively striker doubled Posh's lead three minutes later, heading home past Kean from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing's deep cross from the right.

It got worse on 27 as Gayle completed his treble from close range, reacting first to a loose ball after Kean had saved Lee Tomlin's low shot.

The visitors were well worthy of their 3-0 lead as they bossed the midfield and took advantage of space down Rovers flanks.

Rovers boss Michael Appleton made three changes at half time, giving debuts to Cameron Stewart and Dave Jones.

Jones replaced Murphy, who had been jeered for a lot of the half, Stewart replaced Bentley and Adam Henley came on for Bradley Orr.

Rovers improved slightly after the break, with Stewart looking a threat and Jones adding some much-needed composure in the middle.

The home fans were given hope on 73 when Rhodes chased on to a long ball, held off two Posh defenders and fired into the roof of the net.

Rovers almost pulled another back on 79 minutes as Stewart twisted and turned in Peterborough's box, before pulling back for Lowe who shot inches wide of the far post.

Rhodes saw a flick saved by Olejnik on the line on 86 as Rovers continued to push but the damage had been done by their dreadful first half display.

Dave Jones even added a second in injury time but the visitors were able to hang on.