Bury reserves 1-1 Tranmere reserves
After drawing 1-1 at Prenton Park against Bury's local rivals Rochdale last week, Tranmere were keen to pick up a victory as they look to push themselves up the table, and they were boosted by the return of Craig Curran who started his first match in six months.
Curran wasn't the only player with first team experience to line up for Tranmere either, as he was joined by Paul Henry, Danny Holmes and Luke Waterfall in the Rovers side. The complete Tranmere line up was as follows :
Holmes Waterfall Denson Corrigan
MacKreth Henry (c) Richardson Wilson
The pitch was heavy at Stainton Park and as such both sides struggled to get the ball down and pass it, with plenty of bumps and bobbles effecting the game when the ball was played on the floor.
However, equally as problematic was when high balls came out of the sky and landed on the pitch, with the ball barely bouncing more than a yard in the air on most occasions.
Bury were the side who got the better of the conditions though in the early stages, putting Tranmere constantly on the back foot as Rovers struggled to get the ball out of their own half.
And it wasn't long before Bury took the lead after some brilliant build up play, with the hugely impressive Ricky Anane setting up striker Rouse with a beautiful lobbed pass. Rouse finished comfortably as he stabbed the ball through Postlethwaite in the Tranmere goal.
The goalkeeper, on trial with Rovers after being released by Wigan, should definately have done better with the effort and will be dissapointed to have conceded in such fashion.
There were though very few other efforts in the first half as Tranmere defender very well, Luke Waterfall in particular winning everything in the air, whilst 'keeper Postlethwaite came out to smoother the ball well on a couple of occasions.
The closest Tranmere came to scoring was when they had one of a string of Dave Wilson corners headed over the bar by a Bury player.
The second half continued much in the same fashion though, as both sides struggled in the final third where there was a distinct lack of quality.
Consistenly Tranmere winger Dave Wilson was getting in decent positions but was unable to put a cross in, whilst the passing from both sides was sloppy.
The game changed though when Tranmere replaced Craig Curran upfront with Jamie Ashcroft. It was fantastic to see Curran back in action after six months out, though understandably he looked off the pace and in need of match fitness.
Ashcroft made an immediate impact on the game. He was chasing down every ball and putting pressure on the defenders who started to panick when they had the ball.
And it was Ashcroft who equalised for Tranmere only minutes after coming on as he finished off a great Tranmere move. The ball went down the right wing to Wilson who put in an absolutely sublime ball to the penalty spot where Ashcroft vollied the ball home first time.
After that, it was all Tranmere. Moments after the goal, Rovers had two chances to take the lead, as firstly MacKreth cut inside and smashed the ball goalwards, only for 'keeper Belford to make a stunning one handed save, with MacAuley smashing the re-bound against the cross-bar. The ball bounced out to Henry but he vollied the ball straight at the defender.
There were few other moments left in the match though, with the closest Tranmere came to a winner after that coming in injury time when Ashcroft closed down the 'keeper, after tacking a defender to win the ball. The 'keeper kicked the ball at Ashcroft, only for the ball to rebound just wide of goal.
This was a good result for Tranmere as they again missed players such as Fraughan and Taylor in midfield, though it was great to see Craig Curran back in action.
Rovers defended well through-out and Luke Waterfall was my Man of the Match, winning everything that came his way and distributing the ball really well.