Tranmere 0-0 Walsall

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 12 October 2007
Third consecutive home draw for slow Tranmere side
Tranmere Rovers looked like a completely different side to the one that beat Southend United at Roots Hall last weekend, as they only managed a 0-0 draw against Walsall at Prenton Park.

Ronnie Moore made one change to the side that won at Southend last weekend, as Calvin Zola replaced Antony Kay in the starting XI as Tranmere switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

Walsall showed early on that they were prepared to come and stick ten men behind the ball and try and hit Rovers on the counter attack through striker Tommy Mooney who played up front alone for long periods of the game.

The Saddlers survived early scares however as Clayton Ince first miss-judged a Carl Tremarco long throw in and eventually fell to Taylor who had a shot cleared off the line before the 'keeper eventually caught another long throw after originally miss-judging that too. Ince however was able to save a few moments later as Zola's long range effort was deflected into the 'keepers arms.

On 16-minutes, Tranmere had the best chance of the game so far thanks to some good play on the left from Tremarco and Zola. The pair firstly closed out Weston to win the ball before Tremarco played the ball inside to Zola. Cutting in on his right foot, Zola ran at the Walsall defence and attempted to score from 25-yards as he curled a brilliant shot narrowly over the bar with the 'keeper beaten.

Shorltly after however, the second player in the last three first team games at Prenton Park left the field on a stretcher as Dwayne Mattis left the field following a challenge from a Tranmere player.

A long period without much occuring came next however as there was a distinct drop in the tempo of the game. Rovers tried to push forward and create stuff, but key midfielder Paul McLaren was quickly closed down whenever he got the ball, meaning he couldn't spread the play and bring wingers Tremarco and Shuker into the game as much as the Tranmere faithful would have liked.

Rovers did come close twice before the end of the half however as firstly Sherriff forced Ince into saving with a header from a Paul McLaren free-kick whilst on the stroke of half time some great play from Calvin Zola saw the Rovers number eight motor down the left touch line, beat his man for pace before getting to the goal line and pulling the ball back across goal where Gareth Taylor couldn't get quite enough power behind the header.

This was the final action of the first half, but the second started in the same way as the first had finished as Calvin Zola once again came close to scoring with 'keeper Ince beaten. The striker ran on to a long ball over the top and coming in down the Rovers left, Zola shot across goal but the ball fell narrowly wide.

Just a few minutes later, the striker was in the action again as he header just over from Tremarco's cross from the left.

Scott Dann had a shot blocked by Taylor for Walsall, this before Ince heald on to a badly pulled cross from Shuker which was heading towards the goal.

On 61-minutes, Tranmere, without doubt, should have taken the lead as Shuker missed when it was quite possibly easier to score. Good strength and hold up play from Zola saw the striker hold off two tackles and feed the ball into Taylor who had run towards the right wing. From just inside the box and near the goal-line, Taylor crossed to Shuker who was steaming into the penalty area, and from no more than two yards from goal, Shuker put the ball wide of the near post.

Walsall began to get much more involved in the game however. Mooney dropped deeper to pick up the ball as Richard Money's side looked to push on and get the first goal of the game. They started putting much more pressure on the Rovers midfield and forced errors in the Tranmere backline.

Tommy Mooney first broke free of the Rovers defence and from 20-yards the striker hit a shot which was goalbound before Achterberg pulled off an excellent save as he dived high to his right.

Shuker had an effort for Rovers as the winger broke into the box and shot from a tight angle but saw his goalbound shot comfortably pushed round the post for a corner by Ince but the action was back down the other end soon after as Achterberg once again kept Tranmere in the game, this time saving from Troy Deeney before Tommy Mooney somehow scuffed the rebound and the ball was cleared.

A minute later and with nineteen minutes left on the clock, Ronnie Moore made a double change as he looked to win the game, replacing Steven Jennings and Chris Shuker in midfield with Antony Kay and Mike Jones.

Jones immediately looked to get involved in the game and he won a free-kick with his first involvement as the winger beat his man for pace before he was brought down. The move was in fact something new for a Rovers winger on the night, as Shuker preferred to cross the ball from out wide instead of beat his man all night whilst Tremarco didn't get forward enough.

Not too long after winning this free-kick, Rovers broke forward again and with the ball cleared as far as Jones just 22-yards from goal, the winger shot and saw his effort deflected just over the bar.

Tommy Mooney was back in the action a few minutes later however as he forced Achterberg into another good save with a volley from the edge of the area, whilst with nine minutes left, the impressive Calvin Zola was replaced by Craig Curran upfront.

Some defensive mix-ups gave Walsall a glimmer of hope at the Cowshed end of the ground, as Goodison and Chorley both miss hit passes which were eventually cleared whilst one long range effort from a Walsall player was hit high and wide.

A goal mouth scramble also left Walsall unlucky not to score as first a miss-hit shot went right across goal before the ball was cleared after in bounced unkindly for the Saddlers attacker.

On 88-minutes, Shane Sherriff headed low towards the goal but saw 'keeper Ince pull off a good save low down from a McLaren free-kick whilst a final effort for Tranmere saw substitute Antony Kay smash a ball towards goal from a poor angle with his first touch as he ran away from the net, however, the shot was hit straight at Ince.

A 0-0 draw then was the end of result and one which was probably the right result. Walsall came with a game plan of sticking ten men behind the ball and trying to hit Rovers on the break and it worked to such an effect that they could have taken the lead and the three points had it not been for some good goalkeeping from Achterberg.

Rovers lacked that little spark to win the game in the end and it is clear that they are lacking Steve Davies, particularly in home matches, even at this early stage following his injury.

The draw keeps up Rovers unbeaten run however, which now stretches to ten league games, and is their first 0-0 draw in 51 matches. Ronnie Moore's side do move one point ahead of Leyton Orient, but all the top teams now play over the next few games and Tranmere could find themselves outside the automatic promotion spots by the end of the weekend.

Jones' Man Of The Match: The man who shone today was Calvin Zola by some distance for Tranmere. On his return from injury, the striker showed good pace and strength upfront and was unlucky not to score. However, John Achterberg too had another great game for Tranmere, making some key saves and keeping a first clean sheet (for him) this season.

Trending on the boards