Terriers bark worse than their bite

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 04 February 2006

Tranmere Rovers stretched their unbeaten run to nine league games with a stunning display against Huddersfield Town, who before this weekend had been in the top five since the third game of the season.

The second biggest attendance of the season turned out at Prenton Park as Huddersfield fans nearly filled the Cowshed but were left with a long journey home across the Pennines.

Brian Little made three changes from the team that drew 0-0 for a fourth consecutive time at Bradford, replacing Mark Rankine, Delroy Facey and Ian Goodison with Carl Tremarco, Calvin Zola and Sam Aiston as Rovers lined up 4-4-2 as opposed to the 5-3-2 at Bradford.


Rovers were the fastest team out of the blocks with Carl Tremarco causing Huddersfield all kinds of problems down the left wing with his persistence and pace.


On two minutes, the "Ginger-Winger" got his first chance of the game after winning the ball off Jon Worthington, the Town captain before slicing the ball well wide from the edge of the area.


However, less than two minutes later Tremarco's shooting was a little more accurate as Rovers grabbed their first goal for 388 minutes.

Dino Seremet's long and surprisingly accurate clearance was flicked on to Sam Aiston by Calvin Zola. Aiston, as only he can do, twisted and turned round the Huddersfield defence before sending in a low cross, intended for Chris Greenacre.


Rovers leading scorer left the ball (or missed it!) and it fell nicely for Carl Tremarco who kept his cool and finished the ball past former Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Rachubka to put Rovers 1-0 to the good.


Rovers continued to push forward as Huddersfield had to deal with wave after wave of Rovers attacks.


The next chance fell to Chris Greenacre, again after a Calvin Zola flick on. Rovers leading scorer turned but his shot ended wide of Rachubka's right hand post.

Another chance fell to Greenacre when Town cleared a corner as far as Tremarco just short of the half-way line. Tremarco headed the ball back into the danger zone where Greenacre picked the ball up but again shot wide.

On 19 minutes, Howard Webb waved away Rovers claims for a penalty after Gareth Roberts went down a bit too easily in the penalty area.

Roberts beat the offside flag and flew down the right-wing, passing two or three Huddersfield defenders, but after getting into the box he went down yet nothing was given.

Rovers luck didn't get any better on 21 minutes when Calvin Zola was sent off for what can only be described as a rash challenge.


Zola and Michael Collins both went after a 50-50 ball near the half-way line on Rovers left-wing and Collins just beat the tall number 9 to the ball.

Zola however had already jumped in and Webb took no time at all in deciding to send the striker off.

Zola's two footed lunge did look a dirty challenge, but Zola is not a dirty player and I just wonder whether he was just beaten to the ball by Collins, not that it was a dirty challenge.


However, nothing could be done, Rovers had lost their most dangerous player and Huddersfield now had an extra man as they would attempt to get back into the game, with 69 minutes to score at least one goal.


Yet, it wasn't till the 34th minute that Huddersfield had their first shot, with former Poland U-21 striker Pawel Abbot hitting the side netting.

Minutes later, Huddersfield had another shot from substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher, although Dino Seremet in the Rovers goal was once again untroubled.

Rovers had the last chance of the half from a Gareth Roberts free-kick on the edge of the area. Steven O'Leary was brought down on the left-hand side and Rovers trustworthy left-back decided to have a go but the ball once again went wide of Rachubka's right-hand post.


So the half finished with Huddersfield one man up but more importantly Rovers one goal up. Brian Little must have been delighted with his team's effort and I'm sure asked for more of the same second half.


However, within three minutes of the second half re-starting, Little's plan was out the door as The Terriers equalised with a scrappy goal.

Rovers failed to clear the ball and Gary Taylor-Fletcher headed across goal to find the un-marked David Graham who netted in front of the 1200 or so travelling Huddersfield fans to make the score 1-1.

However, Danny Harrison (goal machine) almost gave Rovers a one goal advantage again with a shot which skimmed the cross bar on 50 minutes after some brilliant play down the left which saw Danny skip inside two Huddersfield defenders.


On 55 minutes Dino Seremet caught a free kick which was hit straight at him by Number 19, Danny Smith.

Then, Brian made the most attacking substitutions of his life, changing the formation from 4-4-1 to 4-3-2 as he worked his magic.


Delroy Facey and Jason McAteer were brought on with great effect to replace Sam Aiston (who looked as if he could get sent off) and Carl Tremarco who got a standing ovation.


Brandon
shot wide for Town whilst Greenacre and O'Leary both missed the target for Rovers as the game became end to end making it a very exciting final third.

Town defender Clarke then shot wide whilst Facey, who had started playing like a man on a mission against his former club also missed the target.

Now time for Rovers final substitution, as the hard working Steven O'Leary was replaced by Steven Jennings, who, to my delight, played in central midfield.


But it was Huddersfield's turn to produce the next shot on target as Dino Seremet pulled his best save for Rovers out of the bag.

Andy Booth headed the ball down into the ground and into the corner of the goal and it looked certain as if he'd score but a flying Dino Seremet pulled off a top class save as he kept the ball out and swung the momentum in Tranmere's favour.

It was now Rovers turn to take the lead, through none other than former Town player and substitute, Delroy Facey.

The striker ran on to a chip ball from Danny Harrison and ran at the Huddersfield defence who kept on backing off and backing off. Facey, after a few step overs took the ball towards the D and then let go with a powerful, low, accurate right-footed shot.


Rachubka had no chance as the ball went right into the left-hand corner sending Rover fans, players and coaches mental. I looked over towards some friends in the Kop and I can't remember seeing them so happy to see a Rovers goal since the play-offs.

The chant "we only need ten men" rang around Prenton Park as Rovers kept their nerve and held out for a 2-1 win despite some pressure from Town in the five minutes of injury time.

Rovers were fantastic and Brian Little's tactics were spot on. I can only congratulate him and hope he does the same in Kent next week (I'm not going all the way to Gillingham for a 0-0 draw!).

Jones' Man Of The Match: I have to give it to Ian Sharps. He was magnificent, again, along with Mike Jackson in the centre. Absolutely nothing crept past him as he won header after header and tackle after tackle. His form since his return from injury has been top-quality and if he and Jackson continue like this Rovers could be in with a shout of the play-offs come May.

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