Another point on the road for Rovers

Tranmere Rovers came away from Kent with a point, which perhaps should have been three, after Steven O'Leary's first goal for the club was cancelled out by Gills leading scorer Darren Byfield.

Rovers changed from
4-4-2 to 3-5-2 with Delroy Facey the suspended Calvin Zola whilst Jason McAteer and Ian Goodison replaced Sam Aiston and Carl Tremarco.

Within a minute, Rovers had had their first sighting of the
Gillingham goal. O'Leary latched on to a Greenacre flick-on from the soon to depart Gareth Robert's throw-in and O'Leary's shot was turned wide by the Gills keeper who looked like a cross between Dida and John Barnes.

However, it wasn't until 20 minutes later that the next chance came, again to Rovers, as Chris Greenacre shot over from outside the area.

O'Leary had another shot 9 minutes after this (30 minutes) when Greenacre found him, but the
Luton midfielder could only shoot high, again from outside the area.

After 38 minutes,
Gillingham finally, to the relief of their fans, managed an effort on the Rovers goal. Justin Cochrane, on loan from struggling Championship side Crewe Alexandra struck well over, even over the Tranmere fans behind the goal, much to the delight of those who had made the long trip from Birkenhead.

However, soon after Cochrane came much closer, forcing Dino Seremet into one of his stunning saves as the game remained 0-0 at half-time.

To be fair, Rovers probably controlled the first half as much of the game was played in midfield. Jason McAteer and Steven O'Leary in particular were playing very well, winning many tackles and often helping when Rovers attacked.

Rovers made the best possible start to the second half as Steven O'Leary netted his first goal from Tranmere, just four minutes after the re-start.

A brilliant chip over the Gills defence was met by O'Leary who in turn chipped the ball over another defender before blasting into the roof of the net to put Rovers 1-0 to the good and send the travelling 300 (estimation) fans mad.

If it wasn't for Dino Seremet's expertise in the Rovers goal,
Gillingham would have levelled the scores in the 59th minute. A stunning one handed save from Darren Byfield earned applause from both sets of fans.

Then at the other end, Delroy Facey should have sealed the three points for Rovers. Facey ran on to a through ball from Greenacre to go one on one with Brown in the Gills goal. However, Facey tried to be too clever and lob Brown and his shot went wide of the left-hand post, when getting his head down and blasting the ball low into the goal would have been a better option.

On 62 minutes, Super Sammy Aiston came on for the tired and hard working Jason McAteer but although the substitute appeared attacking, the chances for Rovers begin to dry up as the Gills defence tightened.

One chance which Rovers should have had and which probably would have won them the game was again coming through main threat Delroy Facey. Facey ran at the Gills defence and should have passed to Aiston who was un-marked on the right but instead he greedily ran on and eventually he was stopped by two
Gillingham defenders.

Minutes later,
Gillingham equalised. Tempers were rising in the stadium as Ian Goodison and Neil Harris got booked, Goodison perhaps lucky not to get sent-off with the resulting free-kick from Goodison's challenge leading to the Gills equaliser.

The free-kick was swung in by Tommy Black, on-loan from
Crystal Palace and Darren Byfield netted past Seremet in the Rovers goal to make it 1-1. It was the third time that Byfield had equalised this season against Tranmere.

Ian Sharps soon followed Goodison into the referee's notebook, as did Dino Seremet who was asking the linesman where to put the ball but the referee saw it as time wasting. Both cards were harsh on Rovers who recieved six in total during the game, Simon Francis, Steven O'Leary and Jason McAteer the other three players booked.

Byfield's chance proved to be the last of the game as Gillingham piled on the pressure but couldn't break down the Rovers defence, who, to the disappointment of the travelling fans, had turned to the negative side of their game, bringing biggest threat Delroy Facey off for Mark Rankine.

It was overall a good performance by Rovers. The travelling Tranmere fans were mainly pleased with a point but I think some would have preferred Brian Little to try and win the game after it went to 1-1.

Everybody played well, as Dino in goal was terrific again, the defence was mainly solid, the midfield very competitive and controlled the game for the opening hour whilst the strikers caused many problems but just couldn't convert their chances.

Jones' Man Of The Match: A number of contenders again today, including the once again impressive Simon Francis who entered his last week with the club and the solid Ian Sharps and Dino Seremet. However, Steven O'Leary wins it from me today. He was brilliant in midfield, instrumental in the first half in defence and attack, scored a great goal and was just impressive through-out. Keep it up Steven!