It was quite the emotional white-knuckle ride at London Road, not least for one Peterborough fan informed by the stadium announcer 30 minutes before kick-off that his wife had gone into labour. Torn between supporting his relegation-threatened team and his pregnant wife, he made his choice and, moments after Grant McCann had helped Posh come from behind to beat the Championship leaders, all present were informed he was the father of a new son. Whether the proud dad was still in the ground to hear the news remained subject to much post-match debate; it would be nice to presume he had done the right thing.

Unlike our hero, Cardiff City were left with nothing to celebrate. Having led at half-time through Aron Gunnarsson's scuffed, close-range effort, they eventually capitulated to two penalties in the final 20 minutes, both expertly despatched by the substitute McCann.

For the home side, centre-half Michael Bostwick was out, still hamstrung after an international break in which Craig Bellamy played for Wales. The talismanic striker was rested by the visitors on this occasion, with the Cardiff manager, Malky Mackay, keeping his prize powder keg dry for Monday's match against Blackburn.

Peterborough started reasonably brightly, but were largely restricted to long-range efforts and penalty appeals throughout an opening 45 minutes in which the 21-place gulf in quality between these sides was rarely evident. Dwight Gayle was the first from either side to take a shot in anger, but sent his low drive from the edge of the penalty area straight at David Marshall.

On the half-hour mark, Gayle went down theatrically when being shepherded down a blind alley by Leon Barnett in what was the first of three unsuccessful first-half Peterborough penalty shouts that left the home crowd furious and booing the referee, Eddie Ilderton.

Cardiff's opener, when it came, could scarcely have been scrappier. Frazier Campbell looked to have been put through on goal, only for Gabriel Zakuani to recover well and force a corner. Don Cowie swung the ball into the mixer, where an unseemly scramble ensued and, from a seated position all of two yards out, Gunnarsson sent the ball trundling slowly past the wrong-footed Bobby Olejnik.

The second half was similarly scrappy, with both sides trading largely inaccurate and harmless blows like drunks in an alley, the home fans becoming further enraged when Gayle was denied another penalty after being bundled off the ball by Barnett.

Referee Ilderton acquiesced to public demand with 18 minutes to go, pointing to the spot when Cowie took the legs from beneath substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. Only just on for Kane Ferdinand, McCann sent Marshall the wrong way as he rifled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. Seven minutes later he did exactly that again, securing all three points when Gayle's persistence in the field of falling over finally paid dividends, this time under a "challenge" from Gunnarsson.

"The crowd were desperate to get penalties today," Mackay said afterwards. "I've looked at the first one two or three times and I still can't see how Don Cowie touched their player. His last touch was on the ball, which he kicked away and their boy then falls over."

With seven games to go, Peterborough's newest father won't be the only football fan enduring sleepless nights in a division that teams at both ends appear decidedly reluctant to leave.