First half performance costs Tranmere on the south coast

Goodison own goal starts Tranmere defeat
A poor first half display cost Ronnie Moore's Tranmere greatly yesterday as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat away to Bournemouth in Coca-Cola League One, with both goals coming in the opening 34 minutes for the home side.

Ronnie Moore made one change to the Tranmere side, with Chris Shuker, who picked up a knock to his knee in training on Friday, replaced in the starting line up by Jennison Myrie-Williams.

Tranmere couldn't have had a worse start to the game as Bournemouth scored in under fourty seconds of the match starting.

Max-Alain Gradel, on loan at Bournemouth, picked up the ball on the right-wing and easily beat Andy Taylor before heading towards the goal-line, from where he crossed the ball, only for Tranmere captain Ian Goodison to divert the ball into his own net as his attempted clearance bounced over Danny Coyne and into the goal.

For the opening half, Gradel was a constant threat to Taylor and beat him on a number of occasions on that right wing, with Goodison clearing another cross from the winger shortly after the goal whilst Tranmere finally had their first chance in the 16th minute as Ian Moore not quite getting on the end of a Paul McLaren corner.

Over the next fifteen minutes there were few chances, although Tranmere had a couple of corners which eventually came to nothing. Rovers though were static, especially in midfield, and often instead of going forwards passes would have to be sent back to the goalkeeper or along the backline as knowbody was moving in to space.

Rovers had one chance as Jennison Myrie-Williams cut in from the right along the 18-yard line and hit a deflected shot wide for a corner, but all too often Myrie-Williams had the ball in threatening positions yet knowbody was willing to help him out.

Eventually, Ronnie Moore swapped the wingers, Myrie-Williams and Sherriff, but Sherriff clearly didn't understand "right-wing Shane" and decided to take up a centre-turning-to-left-wing position for the rest of the half, completely over-exposing Robbie Stockdale at right back, with the former Middlesbrough player coping well as he made a couple of key tackles.

Goodison made two good tackles to hault Gradel in his tracks whilst the o ther centre-back, Ben Chorley, also won some key headers and made some decent blocks.

The next chance of the game provided the second goal though as Bournemouth doubled their lead thanks to poor defending from Tranmere.

The Cherries had a corner on their right and after Ben Chorley had done well to win the intial header, Tranmere allowed the ball to come back into the area and failed to clear it although they had two or three chances to do so. Jo Kuffour eventually stabbed the ball home past a stranded Danny Coyne in a goal that was very similar to the first goal Rovers conceded against Leyton Orient in January.

Andy Taylor got booked for persistant fouling after a tackle on Gradel on 40-minutes whilst the resulting free-kick was put well wide of the target and Goodison cleared another similar effort from another Kuffour set-piece minutes later.

Bournemouth carried their 2-0 lead into the break but after half-time Tranmere looked a much better team as they took the game to the Cherries.

On 49-minutes, Rovers really should have halved the home sides lead as Shane Sherriff played a great pass over the Bournemouth defence to Steven Jennings who ran in on the right-hand side of the area but completely scuffed his effort high and wide from no more than ten yards when he should have at least tested the goalkeeper.

Andy Taylor then hit a free-kick against the Bournemouth wall before smashing the re-bound over whilst Danny Coyne kept the score at 2-0 just before the hour mark as he got down brilliantly to save Pearce's header from close range, with the Welsh international diving down low to save with his right-hand.

Rovers then came close again as they had their first shot on target at Bournemouth for over two-years. Shane Sherriff did well to loop a ball that appeared to be going out back across goal and he found Ian Moore who had to lean back to head the ball and couldn't get enough power as Forde caught the ball at head height.

With 63-minutes gone, Calvin Zola replaced Jennison Myrie-Williams, who hadn't had a touch of the ball in the second half, as Rovers switched to a 4-3-3 formation whilst two minutes later Max-Alain Gradel appeared to be tripped in the penalty area by Andy Taylor but the winger was shown a yellow card for diving by referee Andy Hall.

On 74-minutes Antony Kay was brought on for Steven Jennings, who had an ice pack on his ankle once he reached the substitutes bench, but a minute later it was Coyne who was tested in the Tranmere goal as he saved from Gradel as Bournemouth quickly counter-attacked from a Rovers corner.

Ian Moore came close around the 80-minute mark as he fizzed the ball over from a tight-angle on the right-hand side of the area before Craig Curran replaced the Tranmere number nine on 84-minutes.

Rovers then got back in the game as Antony Kay, Tranmere's second top scorer for the season, headed in yet another goal.

Tranmere won a free-kick on the right which Paul McLaren took and found Antony Kay at the back post who headed Tranmere back in to the game.

The goal was Kay's third in a row which has come from a McLaren free-kick following goals against Bristol Rovers and Millwall and it was his sixth of the season.

The damage though had already been done though and ultimately, despite four minutes of injury time, Tranmere couldn't get that ellusive second goal.

Zola came closest to an equaliser for Rovers but his effort from 14-yards was blocked by one or more of three determined Bournemouth defenders as the hoe side closed the game out and earned the win.

Tranmere though were their own worst enemy as this was really a game that they could and perhaps should have done better with, especially considering that Bournemouth had eight players out injured and one away on international duty for this fixture.

A shockingly weak first half performance in the first half cost Tranmere the game as they often tried to play long ball whilst there was no movement, particularly from the midfield, when Rovers were in possession.

When players like McLaren got the ball he couldn't pick out his usual superb passes because there weren't any players moving to pass to, whilst the strikers suffered from a lack of service due to poor displays from both wingers.

Jones' Man of the Match: Only four players really stood out for me in this game. Danny Coyne made a number of key saves to keep it at 2-0 in the second half whilst both full-backs put in solid performances, especially considering niether had any cover from the absent wingers. The best player in my opinion though was Ben Chorley, who dominated at the back winning alot of headers and tackles as well as covering for Goodison on a number of occasions.