SWINDON Town dropped back into the League One relegation zone following a 3-0 defeat at home to Peterborough United on Saturday.

Siriki Dembele scored twice in the first half while Jonson Clarke-Harris rolled a second-half penalty wide for Darren Ferguson’s men. It mattered not for the 26-goal striker as he lashed in a late third.

Defeat for Swindon, combined with results elsewhere, saw the club drop to 23rd ahead of a vital game against Rochdale on Tuesday.

Town made three changes for the visit of Peterborough, with the injured Ellis Iandolo being replaced by Taylor Curran at centre-back, Hallam Hope swapping places with Brett Pitman, and Jordon Garrick taking Paul Caddis' spot.

On the bench was a return for Tom Broadbent. Meanwhile, former Town captain Nathan Thompson started at right-back for Posh.

Town began brightly in the opening 15 minutes, keeping the ball for long spells without creating much of note. The only half-opportunity came about when Garrick burst past Butler and whipped a low cross into the arms of Josef Bursik.

Moments later, the hosts were behind after conceding in comedic fashion. Dembele danced through a couple of challenges, appeared to be fouled inside the box, got up again, played a one-two with Mo Eisa and floated unnoticed into the box before rounding Camp and smashing into the roof of the net.

In between Peterborough’s first and second goals, Town had their first shot of the afternoon. Jack Payne and Scott Twine exchanged passes, with the second pass finding Payne in fortunate circumstances. Payne flicked the ball back over his head before slicing well off target.

Six minutes after the first, Posh scored their second through the same man, Dembele. Dom Thompson gave the ball away in his own half and Dembele picked it up via a deflection off Palmer. The Posh striker skipped past Curran, cut inside Anthony Grant and curled calmly into the bottom right corner.

In a period of sustained Posh pressure, Dembele almost bagged his hat-trick after peeling off Payne down the left and finding himself in on goal down the left. He could have shot straight away, but he tried to pass it through Curran's legs for a teammate and the Town man snuffed out the danger.

Following a tame Jonson Clarke-Harris header, up the other end, Twine was booked for diving inside the box after a coming together with Reece Brown. The Swindon attacker did not complain too much after the card was shown, signalling he knew he had done wrong.

Darren Ferguson’s team had a few more half chances before the break, the best of which came in stoppage time as Clarke-Harris rifled a dipping effort at goal. Camp did just about enough to divert the ball behind as Town survived without further damage.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first where Swindon looked in no real danger for the first 10 minutes. When a chance did come, it was the predicted duo of Garrick and Twine who were at the forefront.

Garrick ran at Butler before drilling the ball back to Twine on the edge of the box. Twine struck it first time across him, but a super diving save from Bursik pushed the ball out and away from danger.

It was the first time John Sheridan’s men had properly tested the inexperienced stopper, and the youngster stood up to the test well.

Around the hour mark, it appeared as if Peterborough would continue their goal-scoring exploits after Clarke-Harris rounded Camp and was brought down following a pass from Taylor.

Dembele wanted to take it to complete his hat-trick, but the 26-goal striker took over. Ferguson probably hoped the winger had taken it after Clarke-Harris rolled his left-footed penalty wide of Camp’s left-hand post.

With a little more than 10 minutes to go, Peterborough could have had a third, but for an excellent save by Camp.

Clarke-Harris flicked the header on, Ward played Dembele in down the right, and with substitute Harrison Burrows waiting eagerly for a tap-in to his left, Dembele saw his firm strike well saved by the Town stopper.

Inside the final five minutes, Dembele squeezed past Grant down the left and just mis-controlled the ball, sending him into a spin. The striker laid it off to Hamilton on the penalty spot, but it was another case of poorly executing the finish and Town survived.

As Town searched for a late consolation, or even an unlikely route back into the game, substitute Tom Broadbent crashed a header into a crowd of players following a Palmer corner, but Town were unable to prod it home.

With Town chasing the game, Clarke-Harris powered into the area before lashing a powerful left-footed shot past a helpless Camp deep into added time.

STFC starting XI: Camp, Grounds (c), Twine, Garrick, Payne, Curran, Missilou, Palmer, Thompson, A Grant, Hope.

SUBS: Matthews, Caddis, Pitman, Smith, J Grant, Omotoye, Broadbent.

PUFC starting XI: Bursik, Butler, Thompson, Beevers, Kent, Eisa, Taylor, Clarke-Harris, Dembele, Brown, Ward.

SUBS: Gyollai, Reed, Burrows, Jones, Kanu, Hamilton, Mason.