Winning streak comes to abrupt hault

By Matthew Jones
Last updated : 09 February 2008
Zola strike not enough for Tranmere
Tranmere Rovers had their attempts to make it five successive wins prevented today as a resiliant Leyton Orient side scored a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at Prenton Park.

As expected, Ronnie Moore named exactly the same starting XI and substitutes bench that were present for last weeks 2-0 win over Leeds United, with Calvin Zola recovering sufficiently enough from injury to start whilst Ian Moore played his first game at Prenton Park in a Tranmere shirt for ten years.

Just like their last two home games, it hardly took Tranmere any time to open the scoring as Calvin Zola had the ball in the back of the net just two minutes after kick-off.

Ian Moore looked as if he was through on goal within the first minute as a back pass looked short, but Stuart Nelson came rushing out of his goal to clear the ball for a throw in with Moore only inches away.

However, seconds later Tranmere got the break through, from the resulting throw in. Jennison Myrie-Williams crossed the ball from the right to the back post where Shane Sherriff nodded the ball down and Calvin Zola, from near the penalty spot, fired the ball home, with goalkeeper Nelson not getting a strong enough hand on the ball to keep it out.

Rovers survived penalty shouts from Leyton Orient a few minutes later as Ian Goodison fell on and handled the ball, but the contact was clearly not intentional and play continued with Andy Taylor clearing the danger.

Tranmere then had two chances in quick success as they looked to double their advantage. Firstly, Jennings hit a quite sublime ball with the outside of his foot from the left to Myrie-Williams on the right. The on-loan Bristol City man sped towards the box and shot, only for Nelson to top the low effort round the post whilst from the resulting set piece, Antony Kay rose highest but headed Paul McLaren's corner well over the bar.

Two minutes later Rovers again pressed forward but Ian Goodison's knock down from McLaren's cross fell into no mans land whilst on 23-minutes Calvin Zola fired wide after build up work from Jennings and Sherriff.

Orient attempted to press forward but Andrew Barcham, on loan at the O's from Spurs, was disposessed by a great tackle from Jennings before the action returned to the other end, with a, well, "ambitious" 35-yard lob from Calvin Zola dropping well wide of Nelson's goal.

On 38-minutes, Danny Coyne was to have his first significant involvement in what had been a largely pedestrian game for him so far, as Adam Chambers sweetly struck a 20-yard rising drive goalwards, but fortunately for Rovers the shot was straight at Coyne who only had to raise his arms to catch the ball in the centre of his goal.

In the closing moments of the half, the pair were involved again and, as with the last occasion, the result was the same, with Coyne saving from a Chambers shot that was hit straight at him.

Tranmere had largely dominated the first half, creating the best and the most chances. However, they did look a goal short and Orient were to come out looking a much better side in the second 45.

It took the visitors three minutes to register their first shot of the second half - 35 minutes less than it had taken them in the first half - as Barcham headed at Coyne from Demetriou's cross before Zola came close to doubling Tranmere's lead.

A superb Tranmere move eventually saw Sherriff collect the ball in the centre of the field, ten yards from the edge of the area. The Australian advanced on goal and beat a couple of men before entering the 18-yard box. A gap had opened for the Tranmere number five and he could had shot but instead he squared the ball to Zola. With his first touch, Zola controlled the ball before trying to curl the ball across goal towards the top corner but, unluckily, the ball went just over the cross-bar.

Tranmere were still pushing forward with Myrie-Williams shooting straight at Nelson from 16-yards on 54-minutes before Calvin Zola beat two Orient defenders to a Paul McLaren cross, but headed the ball just wide of Nelson's right hand post.

Leyton Orient though were seeing much more of the ball, and the feeling that one goal might not be enough was beginning to spread around Prenton Park to a much larger degree than it had been at half time.

Demetriou saw a shot charged down by Kay whilst soon after Paul Terry, brother of Chelsea captain John, hit a 25-yard effort well wide of Danny Coyne's goal.

Tranmere however were unlucky not to get a second on 71-minutes as Ian Moore came close with one spectacular effort. The ball bounced up to the striker inside the penalty area and, with his back to goal, Moore improvised with a wonderful overhead kick and the ball was goalbound before Nelson made a decent save as he dived to his left, pushing the ball out with a combination of hand and post.

On 78-minutes, Myrie-Williams was replaced by Craig Curran on the right wing. After this move, Tranmere seemed to lose some of their attacking presence. Althouh Myrie-Williams' final ball had not been as strong today as in recent weeks, he had been an attacking outlet for Ronnie Moore's side and had ran his side out of danger a number of times. Curran simply wasn't the same threat.

Leyton Orient continued to press and although chances were limited, they were definately seeing the most of the ball and looked the more likely of either side to get the goal.

Passing the ball about, they looked for an opening and that came on 87-minutes when Chambers brought the two sides level.

Orient hoofed the ball forward in search of an equaliser and after bouncing around on the edge of the Rovers penalty area, where the defence failed to clear it, the ball made it's way through to Chambers in the area. The midfielder advanced on the ball and stabbed it past Coyne into the goal, levelling the game.

After the goal, the visiters won a string of corners but couldn't get a final shot on goal and the game finished in a 1-1 stalemate. A point keeps Rovers ahead of Orient and results around them mean they still hold the final play-off place.

In the end, Tranmere probably deserved the three points, but one could not deny that the Leyton Orient goal had been coming. Rovers had simply failed to convert the chances they had had, a problem which troubled them against the same opposition a month ago.

Perhaps this will be seen as two points dropped, but if Rovers can win at Brighton on Tuesday night, then all will be forgotten as few would have expected more than four points from these two fixtures.

Jones' Man Of The Match: Nobody really stood out for me for Tranmere today, other than Steven Jennings. The midfielder was again everywhere and anywhere in the second half, hitting box to box and showing great passion for the team as well as putting in some brilliant tackles and passes through-out.

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