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Match Reports

Match Report - Rovers 2-2 Tranmere

20 November 2021

Strikes from Grant and Nicholson were not enough as Rovers let a two-goal lead slip to share the spoils with Tranmere at the Mem.

After his midweek heroics, on-loan striker Sion Spence was handed his first league start of the season as Rovers looked to maintain their recent fine form.

The home side began on the back foot and Tranmere forced a pair of early corners. However, the Gas were ahead as early as the fifth minute, a delightful ball into the area from Finley was headed home by the in-form Josh Grant at the far post.

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Rovers threatened to double their lead immediately, as Evans jinked past two Tranmere players and set up Grant, whose goal-bound shot was blocked.

The Gas won a corner on the 18th minute but it was cleared and Tranmere nearly broke away but Nevitt was offside.

Rovers were soon back in the ascendancy and won another corner after 21 minutes.

Evans’ delivery was flapped at by visiting goalkeeper Doohan and Kilgour’s knock-down was slammed home into the roof of the net by Sammy Nicholson.

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It was soon 2-1 though, as Tranmere defender Macdonald swivelled at the back post and buried a fine, curling effort beyond the diving Belshaw in the 24th minute.

It was fast and furious now; the visitors were in the home area again a minute later, but a Kilgour clearance fell to Evans, who set up Nicholson for a shot that flew over the bar.

Tranmere scorer Macdonald then pulled Kilgour down as the defender looked to break down the right and was shown the game’s first yellow card. Kilgour also saw his name taken for retaliation.

Evans then displayed some of his customary dribbling skills to win the Gas a free-kick on the edge of the area in a central position 25 yards out. The playmaker took it himself and fizzed a right-footed effort narrowly wide.

Rovers were back on top now and Harries ventured forward down the left, past an unsteady Dacres-Cogley, and fired a dangerous low cross in the Tranmere box that was cleared at the second attempt.

Belshaw was next to show off his footwork, controlling a long ball forward and gliding past Nevitt before launching the ball down the channel.

It was his gloves that were called into action next though, parrying a fierce Morris drive wide for a corner as the visitors look to draw level on the stroke of half-time.

It was Rovers who ended the first period on the attack, however, as Evans swung in another corner that was scrambled away.

There was still time for the returning Tom Davies to be shown a yellow for cynically pulling back Nicholson as the number 11 looked to break free down the left.

Tranmere kicked off the second half towards their 436 travelling supporters with the much-travelled Nicky Maynard replacing Nevitt up front.

Evans broke clear and looked certain to make it 3-1 but a last-ditch tackle just denied him.

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Fine work from Nicholson then almost saw Spence latch on to a pass in the area as Rovers continued to do all the pressing.

Unfortunately, Kilgour had to be replaced after 52 minutes, replaced by Nick Anderton, meaning a switch to centre-back for Josh Grant.

It was almost a disastrous move, as Grant’s wayward pass went straight to Hawkes and Belshaw was grateful to see the ball fly wide of the upright, when really it should have been nestling in the back of his net. The Tranmere number 15 then looked to make amends and fired a low drive from the edge of the area that Belshaw securely gathered in the centre of his goal.

As the hour mark arrived, Rovers’ boss Joey Barton made his second change, with Whelan returning from suspension to replace Spence. Finley was then so close to a third, when his shot was somehow headed off his own line by Peter Clarke.

Evans was cautioned after 63 minutes and can have no complaints after a late challenge.

Tranmere were applying some pressure now and a free kick on the right nearly landed at the feet of Maynard.

There were cries for handball after Davies stooped low to head away a dangerous Anderton cross as the home side looked to get reassert some authority.

Evans won a corner after 69 minutes, which he swung in from the right to spark a game of pinball in the Tranmere area, but Rovers could not fashion a clear-cut chance.

Tom Davies was then replaced on his return to the Mem by Sam Foley.

Grant then made a good block deep in his own area but, from the resultant corner, Glatzel made it 2-2 in the 75th minute.

Evans then raced back to intercept a dangerous Tranmere break as the game hung in the balance.

Next to clear his lines was Belshaw as Rovers continued to live dangerously. Collins entered the action in the 79th minute, replacing Anderson.

With eight minutes to play, yet another Evans corner was headed over by Anderton.

At the other end, Grant conceded a free-kick on the left-hand edge of the area, but Belshaw gathered before releasing Anderton, who raced fully sixty yards before overhitting his cross. Evans then raced clear but couldn’t pick out a team-mate in the middle.

The game was becoming frantic now as both sides searched for a winner and it so nearly arrived in the 89th minute but Nicholson spurned a glorious opportunity, dragging wide from 12 yards. The same player then just failed to get enough on an inviting Finley cross as the Gas struggled in vain to find a winner.

Afterwards, Rovers boss Joey Barton said:

“We're clearly making progress as a team and confidence is growing ahead of two away games."

Next up for Rovers is a trip to Salford City on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.

ROVERS: Belshaw, Grant, Kilgour (52), Finley, Nicholson, Coutts, Taylor, Anderson (79), Evans, Spence (60), Harries.

Subs: Ward, Thomas, Westbrooke, Collins (79), Anderton (52), Whelan (60), Pitman

TRANMERE: Doohan, Dacres-Cogley, Macdonald, Knight-Percival, Davies (72), Morris, Hawkes, Glatzel, Nevitt (45), O’Connor, Clarke.

Subs: Murphy, Watson, Feeney, McManaman, Foley (72), Maynard (45), Duffy

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: 7,165.


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