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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 26th December.

We have often joked that Town are a second half team usually in desperation when we’re not doing very well, but just recently this has been very much the case. This game was another one of those ‘games of two halves’ to use the often quoted cliché, but make no mistake Town dominated this game from the first kick to the last even though Tranmere set their stall out for a point and took time to break down. The team was the one that won so well against Watford 3 days earlier with one surprising exception, Kevin Gray who had played so superbly at Vicarage Road was only given a place on the bench replaced by the now recovered Chris Lucketti.

Right from the off it was clear that Town had the desire to extend their winning home sequence, but equally Tranmere were determined not to lose ground on one of their relegation rivals as their own season is in freefall at the moment. The visitors from Birkenhead who are going through a sticky patch at the moment and defended doggedly in an attempt to frustrate Town and chances were at a premium in the first half. Town’s first chance came on 6 minutes when Simon Baldry’s first time effort failed to hit the target following a super cross from Craig Armstrong, and 6 minutes later Peter Ndlovu was denied by Tranmere keeper Joe Murphy who turned his vicious shot around the post for a corner.

Despite our almost complete domination of proceedings, Town created few clear-cut openings as the visitors defended in numbers and Town struggled to unlock their gritty resistance. Gallen had a good opportunity when he latched onto Facey’s excellent pass into the area, but the former QPR striker hesitated and was dispossessed easily. Similarly, Ndlovu was over elaborate after he worked himself some space in the box and the Tranmere defence crowded him out before he was able to create a shooting chance. As half time approached Kevin Gallen shot across the face of the goal when he should perhaps have hit the target and it looked as though Tranmere would achieve the shut out they were playing for when in added time Town’s endeavour was rewarded.

A superb pass from Chris Holland to Delroy Facey near the edge of the penalty area gave Town’s young striker the half chance he needed and his low shot was enough to beat the Tranmere keeper. The half time whistle followed shortly afterwards and the goal will have made the half time team talk a little easier. Certainly the crowd were tangibly lifted by the strike, and even though the numbers were disappointing by Boxing Day standards (around 14,000 is pretty poor), the atmosphere was good.

The second half began with Town completely dominating and it soon became evident why Tranmere are slipping down the table at the rate they are. They seemed desperately short of ideas up front and once their plan of keeping a clean sheet had been blown away, they seemed unsure what to do about it. Over the past few games the work rate and commitment seen throughout the Town side has improved tremendously and they no longer look the soft touches they were earlier in the season, although we had to wait almost 20 minutes in the second half for the lead to increase it was worth the wait.

Two players who were almost considered to be surplus to requirements under Mr Bruce doubled the lead after 64 minutes as Simon Baldry, who is benefiting from his longest ever run in the team, played a sweet ball in from a corner, and it was beautifully met by the head of Jon Dyson. Once again Dyson was proving to be almost as much of an asset up front as he is at the back, as defenders seem to miss his late runs into the area. If Steve Bruce had taken a better look at the players on the payroll when he arrived and spent his (Rubery’s) money a little more wisely, we probably wouldn’t be in the mess we are now.

Tranmere, who contributed little to the attacking side of the game, did have a chance when a Jason Koumas free kick hit the upright but to our relief the shot bounced to safety, but apart from this scare it was always going to be Town’s day and were denied a third on 67 minutes when Jon Dyson’s effort was ruled out by the referee for a supposed foul. It mattered little though as Town did score a third 4 minutes later to make the scoreline more accurately reflect our dominance of the fixture. A long punt out of defence was chased and met by Peter Ndlovu (how nice it is to see some real pace up front) who raced down the touchline as Facey and Gallen made their way into the box, and Ndlovu’s inch perfect cross was firmly met by the head of the diving Gallen.

Following the 3rd goal the game was effectively over as a contest and Town took their foot of the gas, presumably to avoid risk of injury before Saturday’s important Derby game against Sheffield Wednesday. It was a shame we couldn’t add to our tally because with points so tight at the bottom of the division goal difference could have a big impact on our league position and although we already have the best goal difference of any team in the bottom 7 it would be nice to improve further. However, let’s not get greedy, we have won five of the last six games to lift ourselves into our highest league position since our draw against Stockport on August Bank Holiday Monday.

TOWN 3 (Facey 45, Dyson 65, Gallen 71)

Tranmere Rovers 0

Position in table – 19th

Town – Vaesen; Vincent; Lucketti; Dyson (Gray 84); Heary; Armstrong; Baldry (Moses 90); Holland; Gallen (Irons 78); Facey; Ndlovu. Subs not used – Margetson; Gorré.

Tranmere – Murphy; Hazell; Allen; Hill; Yates (Roberts 58); Henry (Taylor 48); Flynn; Hinds (Hill 74); Parkinson; Rideout; Koumas. Subs not used – Achterberg; Hume.

Referee – Mike Pike (Cumbria). Attendance 14,043



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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