Question of the WeekWhat do you think of the new timekeeping rules?
By: Andrew Doherty
WITH each game come lessons to be learned. It does seem that we need to be more streetwise, as recent league games have seen us outmuscled, outthought and simply inferior to teams who know how to win and retain the advantage when gained.
But unlike some recent seasons, most games have been close and I don't believe we have a bad side at all. Results earlier in the season sometimes flattered us but performances against Walsall, Bradford and others were decent. With players like Green in the side, we can't ever be accused of being lightweight, the defence looks solid and there are signs of invention and a good work rate. We do however seem to have lost our way in the proverbial final third and can be predictable. I continue to think we show too much respect to opposing teams, especially at home, and our game seems to be heavily weighted towards their strengths rather than ours. Today's test comes at home against Tranmere, who are just above us in the table. If we could sort out our midfield and striking strategy, and play with positivity and freedom, then there was no reason why we shouldn't take three points. Of late, it's been a struggle to win any points but there is really no reason for this with the players that we have. An ugly win would do fine, a thought that Mr Hurst seemed to echo this week by asking for extra nastiness and aggression from the team.
Ugly it may have to be, with the temperature around freezing point and a chilling wind to accompany it. At least the game was on and it meant the players having to run around a lot to avoid frostbite. No such luxury for the crowd of 5,134 including 241 away fans. Town's frozen field warriors today were: Crocombe - Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Amos - Green - Kiernan, Holohan, Clifton, Khan - McAtee. It was good to see Efete and Amos in the side after injury. Great credit was due to the ground staff for enabling this game to take place when others in the division couldn't due to the weather.
Town kicked off, facing the Osmond end. Tranmere wore green. A Khan cross within 45 seconds earned a corner. Tranmere keeper Doohan was forced to make a save from a Kiernan flick. Tranmere responded when a scuffed Hawkes cross was almost turned in by Morris. 6 minutes had gone when great determined work by McAtee led to a cross from the left which Kiernan flicked home with his head. Town 1, Tranmere 0. Town had a goal disallowed on 10 minutes when Amos supplied Khan for a cross and the offside Holohan struck home. Town were playing well. Another attack ended when Clifton was clipped after a Green pass. Clifton then turned saviour when Tranmere broke and Hemmings homed in before Town's midfielder pulled off a timely tackle. A Clifton foul then led to a Tranmere free-kick but nothing came of it. On 19 minutes a great ball forward by Green found McAtee whose attempted lob of the keeper was too high. Waterfall cut out a Hemmings attempt. Tranmere were having a little spell but at this stage Town had the game under control. An inventive corner from Amos found McAtee on the edge of the box but the ball was too high to volley and the ball went out limply via Green for a goal kick. Efete did well to come across and cut out a Tranmere threat before Holohan lost possession and Tranmere re-launched their attack. Efete then started a move but a poor Holohan pass stopped the move and caused a Tranmere counter. Tranmere broke and Kiernan, in the unusual and now welcome position of being in central defence, shook off Lewis who looked likely to score. Tranmere were now in the ascendancy after Town's bright start. The midfield was struggling. Although Town had lost the momentum, they were able to hang on to the lead at half-time.
A good touch by Kiernan found McAtee who won a corner from the right. Town's initial moves broke down as they continued to attack from the right. Really good work by Efete gave Town a chance when he unexpectedly cut inside but Khan couldn't get onto the end of the pass. On 53 minutes Kiernan and McAtee combined well as Town pressed. Clifton had two shots blocked. Town were looking positively to build on their lead. Another good move and resultant cross from Amos should have been met by Kiernan in the box but Kiernan's header inexplicably was directed backwards. On 57 minutes, Clifton was tripped on the left edge of the box. Khan's free-kick was met by Maher who came across the front of the defence and flicked his reader across into the far right corner of the net. 2 - 0 to Town, and deservedly so. Soon after this, a powering run from Green supplied McAtee whose overhead kick landed in the Pontoon. Tranmere had one shot on 61 minutes but Hawkes shot miles over from range. It was all Town, as another great move on the right saw Kiernan and McAtee work to supply Efete who couldn't maintain his balance to stab home from the centre of the box. Clifton then ran the length of the field. McAtee crossed but Kiernan's shot was saved. On 63 minutes Waterfall played a short pass to Amos who returned the ball to Crocombe to clear. Crocombe went for a long kick but the clearance rebounded off the lurking and unsuspecting Burton and back into the net. Tranmere had offered nothing to this point. It was ridiculous and unnecessary but the reality was that it was now Town 2, Tranmere 1. Five minutes later Tranmere's keeper Doohan came rushing out and cleared the ball to midfield from where Clifton attempted an audacious chip. But it went wide. Town now started to play nervously as Tranmere battled and sensed the opportunity to get back into the game. On 72 minutes Waterfall did well to cut out a cross from Dacres-Cogley and concede a corner. Town did have a free kick which Amos hit too hard, and then on 78 minutes good work by Holohan resulted in a one-two between Kiernan and McAtee which resulted in a Town corner. Two minutes Khan and Kiernan got in each other's way, resulting in a Tranmere breakaway which only ended when Khan tripped the advancing Tranmere player from behind, earning him a yellow card. Tranmere worked the ball up from the free-kick and Mumbungo missed with a glaring header, seeming surprised to have such a clear opportunity. On 82 minutes Morris replaced the industrious Khan. As Tranmere pressed forward, McAtee found himself clear following a pass from Kiernan, but was offside. Burton then forced a save out of Crocombe at the other end. The game stopped for a head injury to Morris. Town were now defending, but Morris did initiate a break and pass to McAtee who again was clear. But Morris's pass was delayed, resulting in McAtee running ahead too early and being offside. On 83 minutes Orsi replaced McAtee. A foul by Efete gave Tranmere a free-kick 30 yards out. The game had become desperate and frantic. 6 minutes were added. Tranmere attacked, but Town countered and the breaking Orsi was tackled in Tranmere's box. Possession was exchanged. Smith replaced Holohan a minute before the 6 minutes was up. It had been a difficult final 20 minutes for Town, who had previously been comfortable, but Town held out and the final score was: Town 2, Tranmere 1.
Finally, a win again. Town dominated the second half before conceding a silly goal, at which point nervousness crept in. But there was plenty of endeavour and hard work from all Town's players, and there were some individual performances, notably from Efete, Kiernan, McAtee, Amos, Khan and Clifton It may not be the heralding of the age of nastiness, and the play wasn't flawless but Town did provide welcome Christmas spirit and cheer on this cold day in Cleethorpes.
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