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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Tuesday 27th February.

It must be tough being a Town player when they take the field for each game they are playing a better team, the league table doesn’t lie, does it? Well, there is one exception to this rule - Tranmere are actually worse than us, the league table says so! Unfortunately for Town, Tranmere weren’t aware of this little nugget and extended our beaten run to three games.

I don’t know if other football fans do strange things in the name of superstition, but today was Shrove Tuesday, which means little to me other than the fact that it’s the day when you gorge yourself on pancakes until you feel sick. This, however, brought back memories of the same day last season when I troughed on pancakes whilst listening to Town losing 2-0 to Swindon who also happened to be bottom of the table at the time. This was too much of a coincidence and I felt obliged to pass on the pancakes and have curry instead! As things turned out I should have stuck to the pancakes – my culinary choice didn’t make one jot of difference.

Surprisingly (to me at least) Macari chose to field essentially the same side that had lost to Burnley 3 days earlier with the exception of Kenny Irons stepping back into midfield as expected. The most peculiar decision was the reshuffling of the rest of the team as Thomas Heary played in midfield and Craig Armstrong returned to left back. Steve Jenkins was restored to his traditional right back slot and he persisted with the shaky looking central defensive duo of Lucketti and Moses. I flicked Teletext on at 7.45 to see how many goals we had conceded but was greeted by the message that the game was delayed for 15 minutes due to crowd congestion. This was no surprise because games against Town must be one hell of a pull for opposition fans, and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact Tranmere were issuing vouchers for their FA Cup 6th round tie against Liverpool.

Before heading upstairs to listen to the match commentary, I quickly checked Teletext again just in case there was a further delay to the kick off and there wasn’t, it was worse than that, they had managed 2 kick offs in the first minute. The first was the traditional start to a football match, whilst the second was the result of Wayne Allison’s 6 yard shot into the back of the Town net after just 53 seconds. Allison was let go far too prematurely last season as he could still have done a good job for Town, but he was surplus to requirements and allowed to join Tranmere for a fairly modest fee. He has been unsettled at Tranmere and on the transfer list since the 23rd December, but against Town’s uncertain defence he wasted no time at all in his comeback game.

Town worked hard to get themselves back into the game, but it sounded as though Thomas Heary had a particularly ineffective game in midfield, and seemed a very odd selection when you bear in mind that both Gorré and Sellars were warming the substitutes bench. Each time Tranmere moved forward they seemed to be able to walk through the Town defence who have forgotten apparently their job descriptions. The action hotted up just after the half hour mark, and was to prove to be a decisive passage of play.

On 31 minutes, Nico Vaesen has to react smartly to save well from Stuart Barlow, and then a couple of minutes later the same player shot narrowly wide of the target. Town then broke free of their defensive shackles with Kenny Irons supplying Thomas Heary who broke towards the Tranmere area, he unselfishly fed Martin Smith who slipped his marker and drove a right foot shot towards goal. Tranmere keeper Achterberg was finally beaten but as the ball headed for the back of the net it clipped the inside of the post, spun all the way across goal and out for a corner.

Town were still rueing their miserable luck as Tranmere broke forward and Steve Yates found himself unmarked to head Stuart Barlow’s cross from 5 yards out. Vaesen went ballistic with his defence and I can’t see how Macari can stick with this defensive combination for too much longer, Dyson and Gray are both fit and raring to go and they will always give their very very best for Town, we need them restored to the side now.

Following the second goal, Tranmere seemed to go back into their shells and were content to let Town attack whilst they soaked up the pressure. Our attacking shortcomings must be legendary and Tranmere probably knew they could play until midnight and still lift themselves off the foot of the table. The half drifted to a tame close and I was left to anticipate the wholesale changes Macari would make during the interval to salvage something from this fixture.

Quite unbelievably, Macari must have been content with life and a 2-0 deficit as no changes were made during the break whatsoever and the game continued in the same vein, with Tranmere happy to let Town have most of the possession safe in the knowledge that they would screw up any chances that came their way. When Ben Thornley on the pitch this is usually a fairly safe bet and true to form he completely missed the target from just 6 yards out, he did manage to get a little closer with an effort a few minutes later but still failed to trouble the ‘shots on target’ tally. The petulant winger then contrived to get himself booked for dissent only moments later and seemed to be blaming the referee for his own shooting failings.

It took until the 80th minute before Macari decided to change the recipe by introducing Dean Gorré for Adie Moses to try to pep up the attack. Too little too late? Yes it was and the game drifted to an uneventful conclusion with only one other chance of note when Delroy Facey surged into the penalty area only to stumble over the ball when he was poised to shoot.

Before the game tonight we had as many as three games in hand on some of the teams immediately above us in the table and although these matches are all away from home if we could reap a reasonable points tally from these games we could lift ourselves back towards safety. However, this was the first of these games and having failed to pick up any points at all we are under real pressure now because the other 2 fixtures are both down at Selhurst Park and this is not one of our traditionally happy hunting grounds.

We are now back on the bottom of the table after our good work in December to breathe life into our season, and I wonder if Barry Rubery will ever wake up and smell the coffee? This side is quite clearly not good enough and even though our Chairman seems unwilling to spend any more money on the squad he really ought to weigh up how much the clubs revenues would fall in the second division and consider a small investment now.

Tranmere 2 (Allison 1, Yates 36)


Position in table – 24th

Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Moses (Gorré 80); Armstrong; Heary; Irons; Thornley; Gallen; Facey; Smith. Subs not used – Margetson; Gray; Dyson; Sellars.

Tranmere – Achterberg; Jobson; Hinds; Parkinson; Koumas (Gill 80); Yates; Roberts; Allison; Barlow (Taylor 72); Henry; Allen. Subs not used – Murphy; Challinor; Morgan.

Referee – Trevor Jones (Barrow). Attendance 10,621



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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