We come to the Abex stadium on a cold wet afternoon in November in the FA Cup First Round proper tie Vs Peterborough United. It’s cheaper admission today and should result in a better crowd for the tie, but there doesn’t appear to be many Peterborough fans in the stadium, even with the motorpoint stand closed. The Bgl family stand seems half full and the remaining fans seem to be gathering behind the home goal on our right hand side. The PA system is on as we enter the ground, and the atmosphere is almost party like as the rovers fans are in fantastic voice before the game has kicked off. We struggle to hear the line ups as the teams are warming up, but it appears there may be a few changes to both sides. The atmosphere reaches a peak before kick off as the tranmere fans are in full voice as the teams parade onto the pitch for the pre match handshake.
The teams make way to the centre circle as there is a minutes silence to mark the upcoming rememberance period. Both sets of fans observe the emotional minutes silence as representatives from the RAF lay a wreath on the centre circle.
Almost immediately as the ref signals the end of the silence the SWA are back in full voice as kick off fast approaches. Tranmere kick off and within 2 minutes have a throw in on the far left side. Peterborough win a free kick but results in nothing. The first chance falls to Norwood for tranmere as the ball is played down the far left side, but again results in nothing. The Goal kick taken by the Peterborough keeper O’Malley, goes out directly for a throw in. Peterborough win the ball and come forward. The ball is played down the near side and the Peterborough player is almost certainly offside but isn’t given by the referee. The chance comes fizzles out however and the ball is cleared by Jay Mceveley.
10 minutes into the game and it’s the away side that have seen most of the ball. The home team seem unsettled and haven’t found a rhythm. Tranmere win a throw in on the left side and work the ball forward, the resulting shot into the box is caught easily by the Posh keeper. A late challenge on Jeff Hughes sees Tranmere win a free kick around 20 yards from goal, slightly left sided. Ridehalgh and Norwood are stood over it. The former takes the kick and it smashes into the wall, the rebound falls to Norburn lurking to the side but his shot is hit weakly and is easily moped up by the keeper. Tranmere again come forward just after the quarter of an hour mark, the ball is played over the top to McDonagh who tries to con the referee and goes over easily.
On 17 minutes Tranmere have another chance through Hughes who makes a forward run and lays the ball of to an advancing Norwood, who again doesn’t get power on the shot and sees it saved easily. There is still little pressure from the Peterborough front line until a mistake by the Tranmere midfield sees the ball fall to Posh winger Da Silva lopes who gets strike off but sees his shot go well over Davies bar much to the relief of the rovers fans in the stand nearest the goal.
On 20 minutes Peterborough manager Grant McCann sends Ricky Miller to warm up in front of the Travelling super white army, not the best of moves as the fans chant “you’re only on the bench” Whilst singing at the Peterborough substitute the rovers fans see Richie Sutton play ball forward down the right channel on 22 minutes. James Norwood advances forward again as the ball nears the advertising hoardings, quickly pursued by Taylor in the Peterborough defence. The ball is too quick for Norwood who sees the ball roll out for a goal kick. A rare chance in the game falls to Posh as Richie Sutton concedes a silly foul. The resulting header has no chance and fly’s over the bar. Peterborough apply some pressure and seem to be getting more of the ball, a cross comes in and Steve McNulty heads clear. Another Peterborough cross is cleared by Sutton as the ref gives a corner. The ball in goes straight through to Dylan Mottley-Henry and the play comes to nothing.
Just before the half hour mark, Tranmere win a free kick near the center circle. The ball in was struck well but Tranmere are far too slow to react and lose the chance to go one up. Seconds later Norwood loses the ball and could have been through on goal. Frustrating for the Striker today who appears to be trying to hard. A quick period of a foul and throw in near to the far corner sees rovers win a free kick. Ridehalgh takes the kick but the ball is easily cleared by the Peterborough defence. Tranmere start to turn the pressure on again as a number of crosses fly in, the first is blocked, the second is cleared and then Mottley-Henry wins a throw in. Mottley-Henry is fouled shortly after and Rovers win another free kick. Hughes takes and after some scrappy play the ball is worked left, Hughes cuts inside and shoots wide of the Peterborough goal.
The next 5 minutes finally sees some real Peterborough pressure. The home side come forward on 36 minutes, the cross is taken well by Davies in the Tranmere goal. Mottley-Henry makes a rare mistake and gives the ball away. Tranmere are able withstand pressure and clear the ball. A Throw in on the Posh right side sees more pressure. Davies clears the ball up field and Taylor fouls Mcdonagh. Just before Half time Dylan Mottley-Henry again loses the ball and Peterborough attack down tranmeres right hand flank, the cross again finds no one and goes out for a goal kick. The ref then shows his class in the game and fails to give a blatant free kick on McDonagh who is being climbed all over by the Peterborough full back. Just before half time Tranmere manage to get back into there rhythm and see 2 chances come to nothing. The first of which sees Norwood take inspiration from the home side and cross the ball to a waiting nobody. Jeff Hughes then sees a weak shot fall the wrong side of the Peterborough goal.
Half time and it’s 0-0. Tranmere have by far been the better team. Peterborough have had limited chances but Tranmere have withstood the pressure when they came forward. The SWA have not stopped singing and Rovers boss Micky Mellon should be very happy with his teams first half performance. They have worked hard, got the ball on the deck and played some good football. We shall see what the second half brings but if the same Rovers team comes out of the dressing rooms, I would be very worried for the home side who just don’t look comfortable.
After an entertaining half time performance by some lads “trying” to smash green footballs into a skip it’s back to the real football. Hopefully the chances in the second half will be better than the half time entertainment.
The second half sees almost a carbon copy of the 3pm kick off. After a false start Tranmere win a throw in. Peterborough win the ball and look to break through the Tranmere defence. It looks like Mottley-Henry is putting in a shift today as he falls back into a wing back position and Tranmere go to a back 5 at times. Jay Mceveley is caught out of position and body checks the Posh midfielder and concedes a free kick on the left side. Mottley-Henry again gives away a needless foul, Peterborough’s Edwards picks the ball up unmarked, turns and shoots but again the Posh player hasn’t got his shooting boots on and the ball flies over the bar for another Goal kick. Peterborough look like they have had a mouthful at half time as they have come out fighting this half. Marriott takes the ball down the right wing, he challenges Ridehalgh and gives away a free kick. Tranmere advance but the ball is cleared well by the Home side. This half is certainly going to be end to end. Peterborough come forward again as Maddison attacks, Davies clears straight up the middle of the park to Mcdonagh, he heads forward and Norwood chases the ball and tried to beat the oncoming keeper who saves well.
On the hour mark Tranmere see Jay Mceveley booked for a needless challenge. The Peterborough free kick is played right, only to again see the shot saved by Davies who clears the ball for a corner. The ball is headed down into the 5 yard box and everyone seems to be scrambling around, Marriott manages to get a foot on the ball in the middle and smashes the ball into the Tranmere goal. Perhaps undeservedly but Peterborough have started the better team in this half. Tranmere heads however haven’t dropped. 1-0 Peterborough and the Super white army are singing louder then ever encouraging the team to keep going. We’ve been here before and now is the time we need to get behind the team. Almost immediately Tranmere make an impression, the ball is worked forward slightly to the left of centre around 20 yards out. Norburn appears to be confused and stops making his run forward, Jennings pass falls straight to the feet of Taylor who clears. Tranmere play through the middle and again break through the Peterborough back line. The ball falls to Norwood who shoots well wide from 40 yards. He should have passed the ball out wide. The Ref appears to be having words with norburn and Da Silva Lopes.
67 minutes and Dylan Mottley-Henry appears to be growing into the game after an indifferent first half. He works ball into box on the far side and tries to get the cross off. Instead he trips and loses the ball. Hughes wins the ball back and plays wide to the awaiting Mottley-Henry who this time manages to beat the first man, the ball falls to Jennings who sees his header cleared. Tranmere appear to still be the better team. They Withstand the Home sides pressure as the ref, again fails to give a foul on Jennings. Tranmere appear to have settled to letting the Home team play football and wait for the chance to counter attack. Another ball to the right sees Mottley-Henry put another cross in, Mcdonagh gets a head to it and clears every one. The keeper takes ball. the Tranmere fans are still not beaten and are in magnificent voice today. Richie Sutton loses the ball, not for the first time today. The chance falls for Marriott but is put out for a corner on the far side, which is quickly followed by the ball being put out for a throw in. Norwood again comes forward from the resulting break but shoots low and the ball is pushed around the post by O’Malley in the Posh goal. The corner is cleared well and the rebound is cleared out for Peterborough to mount there own counter attack. What looks to be a bad foul is not given by the ref and Peterborough find a low shot saved well by Davies. The game is end to end as Norwood shoots but is easily cleared. A Cross finds McDonagh, who heads over. Tranmere again mount the pressure as ref gives a foul the wrong way, directly in front of and much to the dislike of the watching Away fans. We aren’t even anywhere near stoppage time but The home side appear to be time wasting already. Maddison for the Home side comes through and shoots just wide. It appears the ball has been deflected out for a corner. After a small game of headers the ball is eventually smashed over the bar.
Around 75 minutes the away side decide its time for a change. Micky Mellon brings off McDonagh and Jennings and new signing Larnell Cole joins the action followed by the much Loved Andy Cook. Larnell Cole almost immediately gives the ball away and Edwards runs straight through the Tranmere defence and shoots. The ball is cleared out by Scotty Davies for a throw in. Peterborough decide to make there own change as Kanu is brought on by McCann.
Jeff Hughes has the ball in the middle of the pitch as Tranmere mount another counter attack. He passes to Mottley-Henry who is wide right, his first cross is cleared but seconds later puts the ball back in. Andy Cook gets a slight touch and manages to head over the keeper in what looks to be a brilliant save. The super white army have their hearts in mouths as the ball falls slowly into the peterborough goal and trickles over the line. GOAL Tranmere as Cook stands in front of the celebrating fans with his arms stretched out wide being embraced by his team mates. I’m sure there was a slight look over to the bench as if to say “proven point!” Pretty much straight from the kick off the home side show they mean business. Give them credit they haven’t just rolled over to this dogged Tranmere side who have given more than they have received. Peterborough again work the ball into Tranmere’s box, but the shot is again straight at Davies. More Tranmere pressure In another attack sees Norwood put a ball through but it rolls out for a throw. A second throw sees the star man Dylan Mottley-Henry chase the ball down the far side. He can only knock the ball off the Peterborough full back for a corner.
With full time approaching there is a small period of scrappy play by both teams which results in the home side winning a free kick as Tranmere man Jeff Hughes picks up a yellow card. The Posh free kick is central around 30 yards from goal but is fired Well over. Seems as if The home side have the same problem as Tranmere recently and stuggle to find their shooting boots when they are most needed. Another free kick from a stupid foul sees Peterborough attack down the right flank. At first it looks promising as Da Silva Lopes manages to beet Ridehalgh, who finds his feet quickly and tried to challenge the Peterborough winger who then see his cross fly into the far stand. Shortly after Davies in the Tranmere goal is the one who finds his clearance flying over a stand as he comes out of his goal and smashes the ball out over the stand housing the away fans. The Posh make another change to try to kill off the game as Ricky miller comes on. Larnell Cole Works the ball wide right again and the cross is well taken by the Home sides keeper late on.
Bang on the 90 minute mark the fourth official flashes his board up to show 4 minutes of added time. Tranmere Striker Ollie norburn tries to become the Hero of the afternoon shortly after but his shot is pushed over for a corner by Bond again who has kept his side in the game on more than one occasion. Tranmere just won’t give up and Larnell Cole gives ball to late for Ridehalgh who is attacking inside. Norburn manages to find himself unmarked shortly after around 30 yards from goal, tiredness is creeping in as his through ball is hit far too hard and goes out wide in what looks more like a half arsed attempt on goal. Peterborough have one more chance late on as Tranmere give away a free kick on the left side. The ball is played in but seen out for a goal kick in what is surely to be the final chance of the game. The ref then blows for full time seconds after the goal kick is taken. There is a huge cheer from the Tranmere fans who give their team a standing ovation off the pitch. A fighting, determined, team performance has seen Tranmere earn a 1st round reply on Wednesday 15th at Prenton Park.
I could quite easily have given Man of The Match to anyone of the Tranmere players, But today the award goes to Jeff Hughes. Not only was he very organised in the midfield, there were a number of chances he could have put away, his attacking play was fantastic and he ran the midfield all day long.
On another day it may well have been a different story for the away side. They were by far the better team for long periods of the game. Micky Mellon set up his team well and countered all that Peterborough eventually threw at them. McCann will be wondering why Peterborough failed to dominate the game being 2 leagues above Tranmere, with his team performing like they have it may well be that he soon finds himself under pressure given their recent form. Todays 1-1 draw puts both teams in the hat for Monday’s 2nd round draw. Until then we will have to wait for the outcome of the replay. Micky Mellon will be hoping his Tranmere team will be able to pull another result out of the bag following today’s performance. The lads have done us proud today and the fans did not give up. Well done to everyone who made the trip today and sung their hearts out for the team.
Until next time….