Rovers lucky in victory

Tranmere Rovers escaped embarrassment last night against Rochdale of League Two in the LDV Vans Trophy, with a lucky 3-2 victory against their Lancashire opposition. Rovers came through against the team who lie fourth in League Two, just nine places below them in the football league to make it two wins on the bounce for only the second time this season.

Just 2867 turned out to watch the match on a freezing cold evening at
Prenton Park, and at least 300 of these were the noisy away supporters.

Rovers scored with the first shot of the game on six minutes, through Delroy Facey who scored a blistering shot. Facey charged down the left and despite being tripped on the way, Facey kept his balance and shot hard into the top right hand corner, via the crossbar of ‘keeper Matthew Gilkes’ goal.

So with such an early goal, it looked as if Rovers were going to go on and put three, four or five past their opposition, but they were shocked on eight minutes when Paul Tait equalized with a controversial goal.

Ian Goodison, trying to Sheppard the ball out of play from a considerably long distance appeared to be pushed over by Ricky Lambert of
Rochdale. Lambert passed along the 18-yard box to Paul Tait, who fired a very cool and good shot across John Achterberg into the bottom corner,

Dale now had the advantage, and if any team scored, you would have thought it would be them. As so often has happened with Rovers this season, they are fine at 0-0 and are good when ahead, but as soon as they conceed, their heads go down and they usually conceed another.

Tranmere’s defending was very poor, and the marking more so. Dale seemed to be winning every 50-50, every tackle, every header and every pass. It looked set to be another cold and miserable night at Prenton Park, another performance just like the one against MK Dons last week, and to be frank, it was.

Rovers abysmal first half performance continued, with only the offside flag and stray passes keeping Rochdale at bey.  But eventually chances did come for Rochdale, with free-kick specialist Ricky Lambert vollying over on 34 minutes.

However, six minutes later Rovers were not to be so lucky, as Tait grabbed his second of the match.  Rovers failed to clear the ball, same old same old, and the ball fell to Tait on the edge of the box.  Tait shot from 16 yards, and the ball was deflected to the other side of John Achterberg, who had already dived.

So 2-1 to the visitors at half time, but credit to the Tranmere faithful, who have recieved alot of critasism of late, as they didn't boo but clapped Rovers off at half time.  Then through-out the Second half, the Kop started singing, and as expected, there was a reaction from the boys on the pitch.

After 15 minutes of the first half, Rovers had not created any chances, and Brian Little made a brilliant substitution.  He replaced Steven Jennings with Chris Dagnall as Rovers went to 4-3-3 with Ian Goodison at right-back, and the formation worked a treat.

Rovers started creating chances, and Chris Dagnall, when he manged to stay on his feet, was in particular very good.  He took on the defenders well, not afraid to do so and his passing was very good, often clever.

And it was Dagnall who played a big part in Rovers' equaliser.  Ian Goodison's throw-in was flicked on by Dagnall as far as Greenacre, who passed to Danny Harrison.  Harrison, who even scuffed his shot, somehow managed to score, getting what possibly was just his second just of the season on target.  Thos was only the midfielders fourth goal for Rovers, since making his debut 108 games ago under John Aldridge.

On the 74th minute, Rovers took the lead for the second time, with Chris Greenacre scoring his third penalty of the season.  Delroy Facey was brought down near the penalty spot with back to goal, and the referee awarded Rovers a penalty.  Chris Greenacre stepped up and scored his ninth goal of the season.

Rochdale however were applying plenty of pressure, and perhaps should have equalised.  Gareth Roberts twice cleared off the goal-line from Paul Tait.  However, Rochdale seemed certain that these went in.  Unfortunatly I can't comment on this as I was the other end of the field, but more often than not on these cases, the ball does go over the line.

John Achterberg made a stunning save when Sturruck came through one on one with the Big Dutchman whilst Chris Greenacre pulled off another good save from Gilks after a great run and pass from Chris Dagnall.

To add to Rochdales frustrations, one Dale player also managed to clear the Cowshed with a stunning shot which went above the Scoreboard.  My congratulations to you Sir, I have never seen it happen before in around 250 games at Prenton Park.

Jones' Man Of The Match:  Between Delroy Facey and substitute Chris Dagnall for me.  Both were excellent for different reasons.  Facey won every header, but Greenacre often failed to link on whilst he also scored a stunning goal.  Chris Dagnall was also excellent upfront, having some great runs and crosses, but never getting the chance to score.