Rovers youngsters suffer Pre-season defeat

Rovers youth suffer defeat to Prestatyn
It really was a tale of two halves in North Wales tonight, as a youthful Tranmere Rovers side lost 3-1 to Welsh Premier League side Prestatyn Town at Bastion Road.

The home side put out a strong team whilst Rovers themselves again fieled just three players on professional contracts, with Aaron Cresswell and Danny Holmes joined by captain Paul Henry. Shaun Garnett's selection though was not aided by the absenses of several regulars, with striker Josh McAughley and midfielder Ryan Fraughan both out injured, whilst Ashton Taylor is away on international duty with Wales.

The full Rovers starting XI was as follows:


Holmes Richardson G. Jones Cresswell

Denson Baker Henry (c) Corrigan



The first half saw the Tranmere XI, watched by local boy Danny Coyne, who comes from Prestatyn, put in a poor performance, as they struggled without the likes of Ashton Taylor in defence and Josh McAughley upfront.

The new formation of playing Wilson in the hole just behind first year scholar Jamie Ashcroft didn't appear to be working, with Ashcroft often having very little to feed off as he was left iscolated up front, whilst if the ball did come his way, he was mainly, and understandably, out-muscled off it or out-paced too it by the excellent Prestatyn number four.

Tranmere therefore had very little going forward, and were reduced to long punts upfield from full-backs Holmes and Cresswell, as playing the ball on the floor just wasn't working.

As a result then, Tranmere had very few chances in the first half, with the first of them falling to Danny Holmes, who smashed one over from 25-yards, clearing the cross-bar by some distance.

With so little happening up top for Tranmere, there was plenty of pressure on their defence, and it wasn't going to be long before the first goal came for Prestatyn.

After some shakey moments in front of the Tranmere goal, the Seasiders made the break-through around the 20-minute mark as after a bit of penalty-area pin-ball, the ball was eventually scrambled home past Collister.

Soon after, it was two, although Tranmere could have delt with the goal, as after some poor defending, the ball was allowed to fall to the Prestatyn right-back in the penalty area after a corner, and the player slowly turned before stabbing the ball slowly into the net from near the penalty spot.

Rovers were lucky to keep Cresswell on the pitch after the left-back put in a thundering two-footed tackle mid-way inside the Prestatyn half as frustration began to get the better of Rovers, before Wilson saw a shot on the turn from just outside the area saved down by his post by the Prestatyn goalkeeper.

A third was added before half-time though to add to Tranmere's frustraton, and it was again down to poor defending. Rovers gave away a free-kick midway inside their own half, with the ball being whipped into the area into a position where perhaps the 'keeper could have come and claimed. He didn't however, and a Prestatyn player rose high to head the ball against the bar. The ball did appear to cross the line, and although the assistant-referee gave nothing, it was irrelevant in the end as another Prestatyn player followed the ball up and headed home the easiest goal he'll ever score - from no more than a foot into the empty net.

Tranmere then were 3-0 down at half-time, and it was going to take some team talk from manager Shaun Garnett to get his side playing the football that they are capable of.

Two half-time subsitutes were made by The Super Whites, with Rule and MacReth replacing McAughley and Gerwyn Jones. This meant Rule led the line on his own, whilst MacReth slotted into right-midfield, shifting Luke Denson back into his familiar right-back postion and moving Danny Holmes across into central defence.

Immediately, Tranmere were better, with MacReth providing a brilliant outlet on the right-wing, inabling the away side to create plenty more chances and threaten the Prestatyn defence.

It was Dave Wilson who came into his own in the second half though, putting in a brilliant display for Rovers and creating plenty of chances. The skillful youngster showed some brilliant touches in the Prestatyn half of the field, easily bringing wingers Corrigan and MacReth into the game and creating chances for both himself and his team.

With Tranmere now pushing forward more effectively, there was much less pressure on their defence. Indeed, there were only two efforts of note for Prestatyn in the second-half, with one effort going narrowly wide whilst Collister was called into acton with another as he did well to tip a header over the bar.

Tranmere's new central-defensive partnership of Richardson and Holmes, as well as full-backs Denson and Cresswell, were able to comfortably deal with anything else thrown at them, and Tranmere were able to attack from the back.

On plenty of occasions, Denson helped MacReth out on the right as he went on the over-lap, whilst Danny Holmes is well known for liking to push high up the field in an attempt to score goals.

With Rule and MacReth causing havock with their pace upfront, it was inevitable that Tranmere would get at least one goal, and after Wilson and Rule had previously been unlucky with efforts, Rovers did eventually get on the score sheet.

A through-ball broke for Rule, who raced towards the Prestatyn goal but was met by the home sides goalkeeper. Trying to stab the ball home, Rule was clattered by the goalkeeper, who also blocked the ball, but with both men down, Wilson picked up the ball on the edge of the area and took it past two men before taking his time, picking his spot and calmly slotting the ball into the net.

From here on in, it was mostly Tranmere. The closest they came was through the impressive Corrigan, who, after catching the 'keeper off his line, tried a cheeky 35-yard lob, only for the ball to bounce back off the goalkeeper, whilst Denson and MacReth both had shots blocked from inside the penalty area.

Aaron Cresswell thumped a free-kick against the wall from 25-yards, although the wall was no where near ten yards away from the ball, but ultimately it was Wilson who again came closest to scoring.

On three of four occasions, the Tranmere number ten cut inside and hit low shots goalwards, only for the 'keeper to dive down and save by his post.

Tranmere's final effort of the night fell to Luke Denson, who saw a shot well saved by the 'keeper, as he dived low to tip the ball round the post for a corner.

Despite the 3-1 scoreline though, Tranmere can be very happy with their performance on the night. The first half was poor, and sloppy, suspect defending led to Prestatyn scoring, but in the second half, after the introduction of Rule and MacReth, Tranmere were much better and troubled the home side a lot more.

Whilst in the first half, Ashcroft was often left iscolated, through no fault of his own, in the second 45, Rule linked up well with Wilson, who was involved in the game much more, and Tranmere were therefore able to put much more pressure on the Prestatyn goal.

Rovers definately missed the presence of Ashton Taylor, be it in defence of midfield, whilst MacAughely was missed up front, but there were plenty of positives from Tranmere as they put in a good display against the Prestatyn first team.

Man of the match was most certainly Dave Wilson, who was superb in the second half, but meantions must also go to the likes of Richardson, Corrigan and substitutes MacReth and Rule, who all had very positive influences on the game.

In other news, former Tranmere player Michael Jones has today signed a one-year deal with Bury after the winger was released by Rovers at the end of the season.