Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Darlington

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 01 November 2006
Rovers knocked out of JP Trophy with awful performance
A dismal display by Tranmere Rovers saw them brushed aside by League Two side Darlington in the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on Tuesday evening at Prenton Park.

Ronnie Moore made a number of changes to the side that defeated Bournemouth at the weekend, as John Achterberg, Steve Davies, Steve Jennings, Carl Tremarco and Jason McAteer all started at the expense of Gavin Ward, John Thompson (cup-tied), Paul McLaren (injured), Ian Goodison and Chris Greenacre.

The game started as it intended to go on, in a very dull fashion. Whilst Barry Conlon hit a shot wide for Darlington, Rovers failed to muster any chances before Kevin Ellison was replaced by Chris Greenacre on 11 minutes.

Rovers leading scorer for the season did register Tranmere's first shot shortly after coming on but he shot wide, whilst Chris McCready blocked an effort from Darlington Italian striker Giallanza.

After the half way stage of the first half, Rovers shifted up a gear, as Steve Davies, Gareth Taylor and Jason McAteer all saw their efforts go wide are get blocked.

Rovers suffered a second injury on 30 minutes, as Steve Jennings was carried off by Les Parry and Gavin Ward with an knee injury. The midfielder stationed at right-back for the night was replaced by Ian Goodison.

Rovers had two more great chances before half-time, as Gareth Taylor forced 'keeper Sam Russell into a magnificent one-handed save before the same player saw a goal-bound shot cleared off the line just before half time.

The second half saw no real chances in the opening 20 minutes, and Darlington's penalty was their first real chance.

After John Achterberg had been forced to make good saves from Wainwright and then N'Goma's shot from outside the area, Johnson fell over in the area near Ian Goodison. After the ball had broken to a Darlington player and been shot wide, the referee blew up for a penalty against Goodison, although there appeared to be no contact.

Italian Giallanza stood up to take the spot kick and sent John Achterberg the wrong way, passing the goalkeeper's left hand corner, to make it 1-0 to the League Two side and send the 60 diehard Darlo fans who had made the journey wild.

If this was a penalty, then Rovers should have had two of their own. A clear handball by Collins was not given whilst another handball appeal was turned down in the last minute, although this was again a clear handball.

In between, Chris Shuker shot wide for Rovers whilst Darlington should have had a second but N'Goma shot straight across John Achterberg's goal.

In all, although the referee and his officials had a poor game, he is not who was to blame for the poor performance. Rovers were poor through-out, and didn't deserve anything from the game.

It is upto Ronnie Moore to get the team prepared and playing better football now in the league and F.A. Cup, especially for the visit of Millwall on Friday.

Jones' Man Of The Match: Only one player looked interested in the whole evening for Tranmere, and that was Steve Davies - although I'm sure Mike Jones would have put in 110% if given the chance. The striker made a few great runs and some decent crosses, but he was the best of a poor team in a poor performance by Tranmere.

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