Just Like Bradford

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 13 November 2005
Tranmere Rovers once again conceeded two goals around the 60 minute mark after leading 1-0 to lose 2-1 against a poor MK Dons side. The result means Rovers drop from 19th to 20th as todays opponents jump ahead of the Super White Army by one point.

Rovers made one change from their disappointing cup exit to Bradford, as cup-tied Steven O'Leary, on-loan from Luton Town, back into the starting line up in place of Mark Rankine to make his first start at Prenton Park.

Rovers started poorly, as did their opposition, and it appeared that neither side could string together more than 5 or 6 passes on a cold, wet November day.

Each side had chances early on, with Steven Davies offering the first shot at goal on 2 minutes, but the young striker, still looking for his first senior goal at Prenton Park put his shot well wide.

Delroy Facey and Izale McLeod, the later of the MK Dons, both had good chances, but niether could do much better. With Facey lightly hitting his shot straight at the Dons' keeper, whilst McLeod's shot was hit high and wide into the lower tier of the Kop.

On 31 minutes, McLeod, although offisde, brought and excellent save out of Rovers keeper John Achterberg. McLeod sprinting clear of the Rovers defence collected the ball on the corner of the 18 yard box. Having twisted round one or two of Rovers' players, McLeod let fly with a powerful effort that Achterberg did well to stop.

It was Rovers who deservedly took the lead, on 39 minutes. Steven Jennings, who had a very quiet game and wasn't too good on the passing front sent over a great cross after Chris Greenacre had been fouled. It was Mike Jackson who met the header at the back post to put Rovers 1-0 up, and it looked as if it should be plain sailing from here on in.

However, it was a dissapointing second half display from Rovers which had many fans booing their team for periods of the second half.

The Dons leveled with the first chance of the second half, yet again from the penalty spot. Ian Sharps, who you must remember conceeded the penalty which put Bradford 2-1 up last week, pulled down the dangerous McLeod, who was running into no mans land. McLeod picked himself up and put the penalty down to John Achterberg's left.

Less than one minute later, Rovers old problem came to the party, as McLeod ran on to a through ball un-marked against the exposed John Achterberg. McLeod easily rounded Achterberg and slotted home into the empy net to leave the travelling 100 or so MK Dons fans into delight and send the Dons out of the relegation zone.

This is not the first time Rovers have failed to hold on to a lead, nor the first time they have conceeded around this period in the game. It is infact the fourth time Rovers have not picked up three points having been ahead, and perhaps even more worrying, eight out of the last ten league goals Rovers have conceeded have come after the 55 minute mark. It is also the second time in two matches that Rovers have let their heads go down and have gone to sleep, therefore allowing the opposition a chance, on which both occasions they scored.

Brian Little's trump card didn't impress Rovers fans either, as the Boss tried to get his side back into the game. Firstly the Rovers boss through Sammy Aiston into the action in place of Danny Harrison and reverted from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, which if you ask me, is a more defensive formation. The Rovers boss then added Calvin Zola to the action in place of the woefull Delroy Facey and before long Steven Davies had to be replaced due to what appeared to be an ankle injury. The forward was replaced by Ian Goodison as Rovers through Ian Sharps upfront and returned to their original 4-3-3 formation.

Maybe having this will teach Brian Little that having one defender and two midfielders doesn't work, as you really need to forwards - i.e Chris Dagnall, who actually looked good when he came on last weekend against Bradford. But instead, Mr. Little chose to have Calvin Zola, who he refused to bring off the Subs bench at Valley Parade last weekend.

Unfortunatly for all the Rovers faithfull and staff, none of the Boss' trump cards worked, as poor passing, off the ball movement and crossing restricted Rovers to just one more chance, which Calvin Zola squandered, but a more natural finisher, such as Chris Dagnall or Chris Greenacre may have finished. Granted, it was a difficult striker for Zola to finish, even more so when he is not match fit. Zola, on the turn, recieved the ball on the edge of the six yard box, but as he turned he lost his balance and the shot went agonisingly wide low past the keepers right hand post.

The performance overall was not a good one. Even Brian Little admitted that the second half performance was the worst since he's been at the club. The passing from the midfield was awful, as was the crossing. Often Steven Davies was left all alone with the ball on the left, or the same happening to a poor Steven Jennings in midfield.
The defence was not on the same wavelength all afternoon. Some may say they were simply to slow, which on moe than one occasion they were. However, McLeod had an outstanding game, and he was often one or two yards ahead of Sharps and Jackson at the back in his mind.
There was once again no result for Chris Greenacre, although he cannot be blamed, as he didn't have the service. Paul Linwood's passing was poor, maybe he even had a worse pass completion percentage than Ian Goodison. Delroy Facey, who is supposed to hold the ball up was equally as bad. He lost the ball far too often, and never really provided any threat upfront.
Danny Harrison, Gareth Roberts and Steven O'Leary, as is often the case, worked their socks off all afternoon, but just really weren't having their best days and Harrison and O'Leary were often over run in midfield.

Jones' Man Of The Match: Not a hard decision, in fact, there is only really one man to choose from. Young Steven Davies worked all afternoon until injury brought a halt to it. He chased down every ball, often leading to a lost cause, and provided some very good passes but he never really recieved the service he would have liked to score goals. Maybe not his best game for Rovers, but he stuck out in what was a very poor Rovers side.

Referee: B Curson
Attendance: 6611

Trending on the boards