Blues see late red as Whites lose at home

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 30 March 2007

Matt's on holiday this week, so I'm taking over for tonight (Dan)

Well, I guess there's always next season.

With Carlisle United coming off the back of a 5-0 demolition of Gillingham 6 days earlier and Tranmere picking up only 6 wins from 22, another more-than frustrating Friday night in Birkenhead engulfed Ronnie Moore's Superwhite Army as a goal either side of the 45 minute mark saw Tranmere lose 2-0 at home to Carlisle United. As if being given the chance to play at the new Wembley stadium wasn't enough an incentive to work that extra bit harder.

Ronnie Moore made only one change to the side that lost 2-0 to Bournemouth as skipper Ian Goodison was suspended for picking up 2 yellow cards at the Fitness First stadium last Saturday afternoon with Carl Tremarco coming in at left back and John Thompson returning from injury to be named among the substitute list.

Rovers had many an opportunity to score, with 3 players from 3 of the 4 positions came close to scoring a vital goal which might have given the all-important confidence the players and fans needed and, with the game starting brightly, maybe tonight was the night which saw Tranmere develop a decent run of form - following the footsteps of the previous season. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.

Straight from kick-off, both teams seemed ready to work their socks off for the win which would put pressure on the teams around them over the coming weekend. Chances were here and there for 10 minutes as either Tranmere obtained a helpful start with a good cross in from the right by Chris Shuker towards Kevin Ellison who, whilst under pressure, only managed to turn the ball wide of Kieren Westwood's goal.

On 8 minutes, former Liverpool, and most notably Tranmere Rovers', full-back David Raven clearly handled the ball in his team's area which resulted in loud penalty appeals from the home side as Chris Greenacre carefully flicked a neat ball into the path of Ellison. Tranmere were, once again, unlucky to receive the penalty and Ellison carried on regardless, but managed to put the ball wide after running round the goalkeeper and losing space to shoot.

An early goal from Carlisle's Danny Graham on 10 minutes saw Tranmere once again fall behind a team lower than them in the league as United broke down away on the right. A low, hard ball was hit across the goal mouth from Joe Garner which saw Graham, (despite having a more difficult shot than England's David Nugent) score from 6 yards out. Both fans went wild, but for evidently different reasons.

Three minutes after conceding the goal, Tranmere had a fantastic chance to equalise through central midfielder John Mullin. The fans saw the on-form Westwood pull of an implausible one-handed save as claps from both the home and away fans could be heard.

Peter Murphy headed off the goal-line as Carlisle kept the ball out once again. A slip-up from Danny Livesey gave Gareth Taylor a chance to score as the striker smashed the ball beyond Westwood and towards the top-right corner.

Déjà vu occurred as the resulting corner saw Murphy once again header a goal-bound effort from Taylor off the line, resulting in open play.

Shuker was also up for the game as he came close twice in the first half after twice beating his marker and gunning it through the area. However, a touch too many or a misplaced pass saw the attack end quickly. This was a promising sign nonetheless.

The end of the first half saw Garner bringing a save out of Ward with a lobbed effort from 25 yards, a fine save from Westwood again, this time against Greenacre and Taylor firing high over the bar.

The second half saw a continuation of the first half as the same speed was applied. This saw Garner narrowly shoot wide of Ward's goal. Despite Ward's confidence, it was very close to going in.

Steve Davies made an almost immediate impact as the young lad came on for a hard-working Kevin Ellison as he nearly got a touch off of a Taylor flick.

Another fast break from Carlisle saw them double their already unconvincing lead which saw Graham's shot parried away towards Gall who nearly shot past Ward into the bottom corner.

With 18 minutes remained, another substitute was needed to be made. 6'4" Congo-born Calvin Zola came on for Mullin and also made a swift impact on the game as he did well to hold the ball up which resulted in Davies' cross flash across the area without hitting anybody.

Westwood was genuinely on fire as he pulled off another fine save from Taylor's far-post header then quickly got down to the floor to collect a long-distance shot from young Tremarco.

The end of the game saw Tranmere have shots from Shuker (over from 6 yards) and Davies (curled free-kick over the bar).

On 83 minutes, the game turned nasty as a quick two-footed lunge towards Zola from Paul Thirwell resulted in a straight red for the Carlisle midfielder which left the Rovers' striker on the floor.

Carlisle played the game out with 10 men for the remaining 11 minutes (4 minutes stoppage time) which see Carlisle and Tranmere both sharing 59 points, with Tranmere only ahead through goal difference.

Man of the match: Despite a match which saw many attempts (7 on target from a possible 13) showed hardly any sign (regardless of a two or three) of a goal being scored for Tranmere. With that being said, Chris Shuker worked incredibly hard tonight, both creating and attempting to score goals. If he made better decisions, i.e. pass when he shot, shot when he passed or taking one less touch than he should, he could be the player which grabs the team by the scruff of the neck and see the Rovers score many more a goal on occasions where they're needed most. So Chrissy Shuker is my man of the match tonight.

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