Unbeaten Streak Ended By Promotion Rivals

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 01 March 2008
Kay error leads to Tranmere defeat
Tranmere Rovers' eight match unbeaten run was ended today as Doncaster Rovers beat Ronnie Moore's side by a solitary goal at Prenton Park in Coca Cola League One.

There was one change to the Tranmere side that drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers last weekend, and this an enforced one, as the suspended Steven Jennings was replaced in central-midfield by John Mullin, with Adnan Ahmed taking his place on the substitutes bench.

For Doncaster Rovers, Jason Price and Gareth Roberts both started whilst Gareth Taylor, a third ex-Tranmere player in the Donny squad, was on the substitutes bench.

After scoring so many early goals in games at Prenton Park in the last few months, Tranmere had a taste of their own medicine and got off to the worst possible start as the visiters took the lead just inside two minutes.

Antony Kay tried to dribble the ball out of defence but lost the ball. Having won it back, Kay then put the Rovers defence in trouble as he he failed to learn from his previous error and again tried to dribble towards the half-way line but was once again disspossessed.

This time, there was to be no reprieve for Kay, as Jamie Coppinger, to whom Kay had lost the ball, skipped round Kay and smashed a 25-yard drive over Coyne and into the corner of the net, handing the away side the lead.

Tranmere seemed stunned by the early goal and it took ten or so minutes for the next piece of action to happen, when Myrie-Williams cut inside from the right wing and saw his shot deflected out for a corner, from which Paul McLaren played a deep, looping ball to Antony Kay who headed wide.

On 19-minutes, Jason Price saw his shot saved well by Danny Coyne as he dived low down at his near post before Jamie Coppinger caught a volley badly and sent the ball spinning into the Kop.

Three minutes later, Tranmere really should have equalised through midfielder John Mullin. Danny Coyne hoofed a long clearance out of his hands well into the Doncaster half of the field, where Ian Moore flicked the ball into the penalty area. John Mullin recieved the ball as he charged in to the box from midfield, but under pressure from Paul Green he could only stab the ball just wide of Neil Sullivan's goal.

Chances were starting to come at either end but they still really weren't clear cut chances. Greenacre curled wide before Brian Stock headed over on 28-minutes after Doncaster had had three successive corners at the Kop end.

With the half drawing to a close, Coppinger again fired over before Robbie Stockdale tried his luck from outside the area as he cut inside onto his left foot but his curling effort went high and wide of the target.

The half ended for Tranmere with Antony Kay breaking into the Doncaster half and hitting a very weak shot from 22-yards straight at Neil Sullivan before a Gareth Roberts free-kick went straight into the Tranmere wall on the stroke of half time.

With Jennison Myrie-Williams and Shane Sherriff playing most of the first half on the left-wing, questions were raised at half time of what Ronnie Moore would do at half time.

A cramped left-side had led to a very exposed right-wing, with Robbie Stockdale often collecting the ball in a promising position but having to pass backwards or infield due to a lack of support on the right.

In the first fifteen minutes of the half, Myrie-Williams had twice cut inside across Gareth Roberts and seen shots deflected wide for corners, but otherwise he had been starved of the ball. One superb cross did come from the on-loan winger, but this was when he was on the left as he beat his man and got to the line before pulling the ball back, but there was knowbody at the back post to head home.

Tranmere lined up for the second half with the same XI though, only with Myrie-Williams on the right instead of the left.

Indeed, it appeared that Moore's half time team talk had been a stirring one, as Tranmere came out and attacked at the start of the second half.

On 48-minutes Greenacre tried an ambitious overhead kick from a Myrie-Williams cross but hit effort lacked power and Sullivan collected whilst a similar move seven minutes later saw Stockdale this time provide the cross and Greenacre again providing the acrobatics, but this time Greenacre's shot looped up high and was heading wide before Sullivan collected it and cleared.

Just before the hour mark, Tranmere came close again through Paul McLaren. The ball fell to the midfield in the penalty area and from a very tight angle he smashed the ball towards goal and it whistled just over the cross bar.

On 64-minutes, Ronnie Moore looked to freshed up the Tranmere team as Calvin Zola replaced Jennison Myrie-Williams and immediately moved upfront, with Ian Moore moving to the right-wing.

The striker immediately made a difference, as his height and strength offered a completely different task to the Doncaster defence. With Rovers often playing the long ball, they now had an outlet in Zola who could win the flick-ons and also hold the ball up before laying it off.

Within five minutes of joining the game, Zola had already done this three or four times and suddenly an equaliser didn't look too far away.

Stock had an effort saved whilst a Coppinger effort went over the bar for the visiters before Coyne was again called into action as Coppinger vollied straight at the Welsh goalkeeper.

The pressure went back down the other end and Andy Taylor was unlucky for Rovers as the ball fell to him 25-yards from goal and he hammered the ball goalwards, only for his swerving, powerful shot which appeared to be destined to hit the back of the net to be blocked by former Leyton Orient player Matt Lockwood.

Ian Moore then broke down the Tranmere right and when under plenty of pressure sent a magnificent cross into the six-yard box which went agonisingly over Calvin Zola's head before Tranmere finally got another shot on target when Andy Taylor broke down the left and sent a low cross into the near post where Ian Moore flicked the ball goalwards, but the header lacked power and Sullivan saved.

This was the last chance of the game for either side, as Doncaster held on for what they will surely see as a hard earned and deserved 1-0 win. It was a magnificent strike that won it for the away side but it is dissapointing that it came from a defensive error by Tranmere.

Doncaster were a well organised side with a solid and dominating backline, whilst in attack they had pace and strength, although perhaps Jason Price lacked strength!

Ronnie Moore's side certainly missed Steven Jennings in midfield, and although Mullin played well, he just is not the same type of player Jennings is, whilst the ineffective long ball game Tranmere played didn't help their performance.

Tranmere though were just unable to break down a very strong side and they didn't get enough shots in on target. It was a reasonably even game, but a stunning strike won it for the team who probably just shaded it.

Jones' Man of the Match: This was one of those days when knowbody really stood out of Tranmere. The game often bypassed the midfield, although Mullin put in a decent display, whilst the strikers did nothing to earn the award for this game. The strongest player was probably left-back Andy Taylor, who got forward well and didn't give the Doncaster right-hand side much joy all game.

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