It’s been three weeks since our last home game, the 3-1 win over Colchester United, and we’ve had three away games in that period. And they have been a “Nelson” in terms of results – one win, one draw, and one loss (and in that order). The win away at Northampton Town, who were second in the table at the time, was impressive (even if they say the performance didn’t quite match), but to concede an equaliser in injury time at Carlisle, who are one of the teams battling against relegation was a disappointment. The Tuesday night defeat away to Stevenage in the rearranged game postponed on Boxing Day was even worse as they were struggling in the league more than Carlisle near the foot of the table.
Today’s opponents were Tranmere Rovers, themselves now currently second in the table. And it’s our third game against them this season; following a 2-1 defeat away to them in the league early on, and a 1-0 home defeat at them in the first round of the FA Cup.
But you know what they say, third time lucky and all that. And we did manage to beat Northampton this month when they were second in the league. So, there is always hope. And we start a home game in the top half of the table for the first time since October, so we have been on the up as late.
In the gap in games, I had managed to get to the club shop and catch up on most of the programmes I’d missed out on from cutting it fine in getting to games. The only home game I don’t have a programme for now is the Sutton game. Not a surprise as it was our biggest crowd of the season.
It had been a cold week, and it was still cold and grey as we walked to the game this afternoon. We got to the ground in plenty of time for a change. Early enough to get a programme, get drinks, and get settled in our seats before the teams came out onto the pitch.
There were three coaches parked at the ground for the away fans, and prior to the kick-off their fans were in fine voice, lots of energy coming from the away end, and at least one drummer going for it full blast. And speaking of drummers, our local stand drummer had left their drum unattended outside Redz Bar as we walked past, but I managed to resist the temptation to nick it for myself.
Inside the ground there were scaffold towers up in all four corners of the ground, and with two media lorries and another couple of vans parked around outside it looked as if they were setting up for cameras. Not for this game, but it does make me wonder just what game they are planning on televising.
After a couple of games where I had forgot, it was a bonus to have remembered my glasses this time, and so I was able to see more detail. It also meant I got the full effect of the bright all yellow kits the Tranmere players were wearing (making their fans “blue and white army” chant a bit non-sensical).
We had a good bit of early pressure, and a decent penalty shout was waved away, but most of the first quarter of the game saw a lot of effort but not many chances for either team. On twenty-one minutes there is a chance as the ball comes out of the Tranmere area to Jack Powell for lines up for a shot, which was so high, wide, and handsome, it not only cleared the Ryan Cantor Club stand, but looked as if it was going to end up in the K2. One of the stewards appeared back with the ball about ten minutes later.
Half an hour in and there is a penalty shout at the other end, but the Tranmere shouts were waved away as well, even though their player lost a boot in the challenge. There was some frenetic play from both sides, but it was all for nought and the half time whistle came with the score still 0-0.
There had been some different songs playing on the PA when we arrived, and more as half time started, but it was a false dawn and by the end of the break the regular playlist was back to blaring out.
The second half carried on in the same vein as the first half had ended, a lot of effort, but not a lot of quality. Three minutes in, ball number two sailed out over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand, and it was quickly followed by ball three disappearing over the corner of the KRL Logistics stand. And it wasn’t finished there, ball four back over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand from a sliced Morris clearance.
Nineteen minutes into the second half and disaster struck. A dubious free kick was given at an acute angle to the side of the penalty area. For some reason, the wall was defending the cross and ex Liverpool player and general irritant Jay Spearing wen for a shot to the near post, only for it to be helped in by a sliced clearance. More utterly poor defending. We made our second substitution before the restart and changed the formation by adding an attacking midfielder for a defender.
It didn’t help the rate of balls disappearing out of the ground. Ball five was the third one to get hoofed over the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand was quickly followed by ball six flying over the Ryan Cantor Club stand from a wayward shot by Spearing. A shame he hadn’t tried that with the earlier free kick. The ball was on the pitch long enough for us to make the third and final substitution, but the eighty fifth minute saw (a new record) ball seven go over the Ryan Cantor Club stand after another poor shot.
Five minutes were added as there had been a lot of pauses, and a lot of Tranmere time wasting. We lost count of just how many of their players were taking time to have to re-tie their bootlaces. Now, I’m shit at tying laces myself, but I have nothing on these twats. Injury time saw a lot of bustle from us, but no real hustle and the final whistle went to seal the 1-0 defeat.
The crowd had been announced as 2,803 with 443 away fans. We weren’t surprised at the number of away fans, but we did think there would have been more home fans there. There were two large school parties there, and there were still lots of fans coming into the ground five minutes into the game. Although it is an improvement on some recent games. The sponsors man of the match was announced as Joel Lynch. Well, they have to pick someone I suppose.
As long as it wasn’t Jack Powell. His first half shot out of the ground wasn’t his only miscue. He is supposed to be our midfield kingpin, but he just doesn’t seem to be the player that he and the manager thinks he is. There are far too many wayward passes, too much moaning and somewhat of a lack of effort.
We finish the day back in the bottom half of the table. Let’s hope we can regroup and get back to winning ways next week.