John Coleman felt the margin of victory flattered Peterborough as four second-half goals saw Posh run out 4-0 winners.

It was harsh on Stanley who were the better side in the first half and saw a goal chalked off for handball as Offrande Zanzala turned home.

They also lost Zain Francis-Angol and Joe Maguire to injury, having already been without suspended first-choice left-back Jerome Opoku, though Coleman was keen not to make it a hard luck story.

Instead he reflected on mistakes from his side that cost them goals in the second half and some poor decision making from referee Sam Purkiss.

The Reds boss said: “4-0 flatters Peterborough but they were clinical in front of our goal. I think they had five attempts at our goal and scored four of them.

“They are a good side, we’re under no illusions about that, but they weren’t 4-0 better than us.

“I thought we were comfortably the better team in the first half, scored a perfectly good goal, and for some reason your shoulders become your hands. It’s unforgivable to make a mistake of that magnitude at this level and in a game like this the first goal is always going to be crucial.

“It proved to be the case.”

Coleman felt the first goal, scored by Marcus Maddison in the 56th minute, was a killer blow to his side who were caught out on the counter-attack.

“We’ve left two-on-two at the back and you should be able to handle that,” he added. “We’ve tried to play offside and he wasn’t offside and we only have ourselves to blame.

“We paid the price for it. If Peterborough don’t score the first goal I don’t think they score at all.

“But they’re too good a team to gift them a second goal and they played with their tails up because they’re a good attacking team, you’ve seen how many goals they’ve scored already this season.

“Even in their wildest dreams at half time they wouldn’t have expected to score four goals, particularly in the manner they did.”

Zanzala was penalised for handball, when turning the ball home in the first half, but a bemused Coleman said: “He (the referee) said it was handball.

“It hit him on the shoulder, no-one could generate that power from a muscle.

“It can only hit a bone and the only bone it could hit was the shoulder.

“When he sees it back he will be disgusted.”

There was concern in the first half for full-back Maguire who was taken to hospital after falling heavily to the floor.

“It was a total accident, a cannonball of a shot that’s hit him flush in the face.

“I’m really annoyed that the game wasn’t stopped immediately.”