Tranmere Rovers vs Shrewsbury Town, 1/8/15, Prenton Park, Match 5
There were a couple of title ideas for this blog, and the one that expressed my disdain for the Maps app on my Nokia almost won, but in the end I decided to go with what is at the top of this blog. The reason for my hatred of my Maps app is simple, the damned thing is broken. Take today for an example, I had decided to try and get to Prenton Park without using it, but as the time edged closer to 3pm I decided that it would be a good idea to use it. I found a safe place to stop, set it all up, and began to follow the directions. I was amazed when the thing decided to get me to turn left onto a housing estate, turn the car around, go back the way I had come and then take a right turn which the app had decided, 30 seconds ago, that I didn’t need to take. So if there are any Sat-Nav companies reading this, or anyone with any connections, that want to donate a Sat-Nav to myself, I will give it good reviews on here in exchange.
Thanks to the Maps app, and partially due to my decision not to leave until 2pm, I finally pulled onto the carpark at Prenton Park, at 2.55pm, I paid the £5 for the parking, and received what looked like a match ticket instead, a creative way of recycling! Due to not getting to the game moments before kick-off, I didn’t get chance to purchase a programme before the game and instead undertook a brisk walk around to the Away Turnstile, where I paid £10 for entry. The two sides had already gone through the handshakes and were now lining up for the kick off, with Salop attacking towards the Kop.
Prenton Park is a wonderful, all seater stadium, and it’s not very often that I will refer to an all seater stadium as wonderful! One thing that it does have is character, with the Kop dominating the ground, due to advertising banners in the Kop it does look like the seats spell “Ranmere Rovers”, as the T is obscured. The Main Stand is an interesting looking affair with three different colours of seat in the stand, with the obvious blue, a section of red and a section of yellow, the changing rooms, and dugouts, as well as a lot of the facilities, are housed in this stand. The Salop fans found themselves in the Cowshed Stand, which I found to be a good stand, with the height and angle providing a good view of the pitch, and the players, meaning that you could see the entire pitch, but not be too far away that it looks like the players are ants, but for some reason no fans were allowed to sit on the back row, as ordered by the stewards. Finally there is the Johnny King stand, named after one of Tranmere’s finest managers, it is the smallest of all the stands, with the rest of the ground towering over it.
It’s obvious that Tranmere have the biggest, and possibly the best ground in the Conference (I will not call it the National League), which is a shame. It’s not a shame that Tranmere have a big ground, but a shame that they find themselves in the Conference. Whilst no team is too big for the Conference, a club of Tranmere’s stature and history should not find themselves at this level, then again neither should Grimsby or Wrexham, and I can only hope that Tranmere do what Shrewsbury did and bounce back at the first try.
I’m going to insert a piece of personal trivia here, but Tranmere and Shrewsbury Town have always played each other at Prenton Park, around the birth of my children. I have two children, with my daughter being the eldest. She was born on the 17th of February 2013, with my wife going into labour, narrowly after the final whistle of Tranmere Rovers vs Shrewsbury Town on the 15th of February 2013. My youngest, my son, was born on the 19th of February 2015 (Yes, there is exactly two years and two days between my children), and surprise, surprise, Tranmere Rovers played Shrewsbury Town on the 21st of February 2015.
Back to the game, Shrewsbury lined up in a 442 formation with Tranmere playing with what looked like a 433 formation, with the Tranmere full backs pushing forward, and one of the Tranmere midfielders dropping into a defensive midfielder role. Shrewsbury started brightly, and as normal they looked to build the play from the back with patient passing, and shouts of “Start again!” whenever play broke down. As a Town fan it is great to see a team playing positively, and not getting downbeat when things aren’t going their way, Mickey Mellon has to be credited with getting Town playing football the right way, and long may it continue.
A good number of Town fans had travelled, and it didn’t take long for the “Grandison!” chant to start, with the first rendition coming around the 15th minute.
I’m not a fan of coloured boots, as I prefer the old black boots, but they do suit a player whose style of play matches the brightness of their boots, with Junior Brown doing just that, his attacking play was as bright as the green boots he was wearing, as he threatened the Tranmere defence with his pace and dribbling.
Town’s first goal came in the 19th minute, as Liam McAlinden floating the ball into the box where Tyrone Barnett found himself perfectly placed the nod the ball past the Tranmere keeper and into the back of the net.
McAlinden made it 2-0 in the 24th minute as he picked up the ball on the edge of the area, beat a couple of defenders, and curled the ball passed the keeper and into the net.
I was surprised to see Andy Mangan leave us at the start of the summer, and was pleased when he quickly sorted himself out with a new club, Tranmere have got themselves a great player, and one that will grab them goals. He deserved a good reception, and a good reception is what he got, with the Salop faithful giving him a round of applause and a chant of his name, which bought a round of applause from Andy.
There was a rare lapse of concentration in the Shrewsbury defence in the 31st minute as Liam Lawrence under hit a pass, which could have led to a serious chance for Tranmere, if Connor Goldson hadn’t been able to get back and put in a good challenge to recover the ball.
The ref had been mostly unnoticeable for the majority of the first half, as he didn’t have many decisions to make. However when he did make decisions they did seem to go in Salop’s favour, and on the 36th minute he finally gave Rovers a free-kick just outside of the Salop area, which was greeted with sarcastic applause from the Rovers fans. Tranmere should have done more with the free-kick but Jayson Leutwiler, in the Shrewsbury goal, was equal to it, and dealt with the danger.
Half Time: Tranmere Rovers 0-2 Shrewsbury Town (Barnett 19, McAlinden 24)
At half time I decided to leave my seat and head down to the concourse in search of a drink. I did wonder whether Tranmere had forgotten to pay the electricity bill when I stepped onto the concourse, but soon worked out that there just wasn’t much lighting down on the concourse. On one side was a small bar, serving the normal lagers found at football grounds, and then there was the refreshment hut. I decided against a pint, as 15 minutes isn’t really enough time to enjoy a pint, in my books anyway, so I headed to the refreshment hut, and bought a Diet Coke for £1.50, and I was allowed to keep the bottle top! The prices seemed reasonable, with a burger, pie or hot dog costing £3.50, a cheeseburger costing £4, or a double burger costing £4.50. I decided against any food, and ventured back to my seat with my bottle of Diet Coke (AND THE LID!).
Tranmere made two changes at the break with Hill and Norwood replacing T.Rialist (11) and Stockton. Shrewsbury made no changes, which surprised me seeing as how this was a pre-season friendly.
It took three minutes for Tranmere to pull a goal back, with T.Rialist (7), hitting what I am guessing was supposed to be a cross, which looped over Leutwiler’s head and nestled in the back of the net. Now I’m no manager or scout, despite the number of hours that I put in to Football Manager 2015, but if I was Mickey Mellon I would be having a look at Mr. T. Rialist (7), as he was having a very good game, and was definitely one of the stand out performers for Tranmere.
Shrewsbury didn’t start the half as well as they had finished it, and one thing that started to bug me was Ryan Wood’s inability to play to the whistle. Now I’m not going to be overly critical of the lad, but if he put as much effort into chasing the ball, as he did into moaning at the ref, then he wouldn’t have needed to worry about the Tranmere player having a tug at his shirt, as Woods would have had the ball. Hopefully this was just an off day for the lad, as he is definitely an exciting prospect.
The rain of the first half, had made way for some sunshine, and the Prenton Park pitch looked good in the sun. The Tranmere ground staff should feel proud of themselves for the good job that they have done with the pitch.
In the 62nd minute Tranmere made another change with Louis Maynard coming on for Martin Riley, and a minute later the Salop made a double change with Abu Ogogo and James Collins coming on for Liam Lawrence and Liam McAlinden.
Now for some reason, a Tranmere steward took it upon himself to walk up and down the away end, telling the Salop fans to get their feet off of the seats in front of them, which I would understand if there had been someone sitting in the seat in front of them. But today when the seats were empty, I couldn’t see the harm, especially as how the stand had limited legroom.
Salop made another change in the 71st minute with former Tranmere player Jean Louis Akpa Akpro coming on for Junior Brown, another former Tranmere player.
James Collins made it 3-1 in the 73rd minute, as he controlled the ball on the edge of the area, following a good save from the keeper, and fired the ball home, with a wonderful shot into the top corner.
The Town fans had only just sat back down, as Jean Louis Akpa Akpro, made it 4-1, in the 76th minute, with a powerful header, from a cross from Barnett, who was having a good game in Shrewsbury shirt, and hopefully Barnett will carry this early form into the next season.
T.Rialist (7) left the pitch in the 80th minute to applause from all four sides of the ground, the lad had put a very good performance in, and I’ll be amazed if Tranmere don’t sign him, as on the back of this performance, I don’t think he’d look out of place in a Salop shirt. He was replaced by Johnny Margetts.
Tranmere made one last change in the 83rd minute, as they bought Marcus Holness on for Ritchie Sutton. That was to be it for any action in the game though, as both teams played out the remaining minutes, with neither side creating much.
Full Time: Tranmere 1-4 Shrewsbury Town (T.Rialist (7) 48 – Barnett 19, McAlinden 24, Collins 73, Akpa Akpro 76)
The game had been a good work out for Shrewsbury Town, with Tranmere providing good opponents. Salop look ready for the season ahead, but they will have to keep working hard to get the results we want. Tranmere on the other hand look like they will have a good season in the Conference, and I personally hope to see them back in the Football League for the 2016-2017 season.
Upon leaving the ground I headed around to the Main Stand, where the club shop was situated. On the way round to the away stand I had noticed a statue on the corner, and on my way back I stopped to have a look and take a picture of it, the statue is of Johnny King, the legendary Tranmere manager that I have mentioned already.
From the outside the club shop looked to be very small, and from the inside it looked like I was right. But to be fair to Tranmere they had utilised every piece of space, selling everything from the kits to duvet covers. At the till I found a copy of the programme that Tranmere had produced for their three home friendlies, and a copy of The NonLeague Magazine for the North West, which I am glad I picked up as it has been an interesting read so far. My purchases came to £3, taking my total spend for today’s match to £19.50. Living in Wales I’m used to having to accept that if I don’t provide my own carrier bag, then I will have to pay, however without asking the young lad behind the till put my programme and magazine straight into a bag with the Tranmere Rovers badge emblazoned on it.
Leaving the club shop, I headed back to my car and passed a Vauxhall Cavalier, which looked to be older than myself, but if it still drives, why replace it? I’ve got to admit that I would love to still be driving my Ford Focus in twenty years’ time, I just can’t see it happening.
Attendance: (Not been able to find a record of the attendance online, if I find one, then I will update this, as always if you know, please let me know!)
Hat Tricks seen so far: 2
Next week’s plan: Chorley vs Nuneaton, 8/8/15, Conference North
So next week sees the start of the footballing season in England, which is something that has me very excited, I’m definitely looking forward to this next season. Hopefully Shrewsbury will cement their place in League One and Chorley will get promoted.