Bolton Wanderers v Tranmere Rovers
Saturday 19th December 2020
English Football League Two
In the build-up to this game the pressure on the Tranmere manager, Keith Hill, was huge following the club’s last league performance. Thus, Rovers travelled to Greater Manchester to show their quality against promotion candidates Bolton Wanderers in hope of relieving this pressure. The trip down the M62 would see a return to a familiar place for Hill as he was the Trotters manager last season thus there was plenty at stake on and off the pitch. The Whites understood this and excelled. Three goals and a very needed three points ‘on the road’.
REACTION TO STARTING ELEVEN –
I personally believed that the starting eleven, announced an hour before kick off, was a statement that the last performance wasn’t acceptable and that change needed to happen in order to not be ‘embarrassed’ again. Five changes were made.
In: Nelson, Ridehalgh, Young, Vaughan, Blackett-Taylor.
Out: O’Connor, Monthe, Khan, Lloyd, Woolery.
It was good to see that players that didn’t perform to an acceptable standard last time out were rested. For example, Sid Nelson came in for Manny Monthe. Nelson excelled and definitely showed his quality. I was also really impressed with the 20-year-old Newcastle loanee midfielder Jack Young, who made his quality evident as he controlled the game play well in order for the Whites to attack. Due to this, he was awarded ‘man of the match’. Ridehalgh, Vaughan and Blackett-Taylor were good as well, they always are.
FIRST HALF –
In typical fashion, Rovers showed their attacking intent from the off. 23-year-old Corey Blackett-Taylor cutting inside and curling an effort goalbound, Bolton goalkeeper Matt Gilks would catch the ball comfortably.
It wouldn’t be too long before the hosts’ attacking intent became evident as well, this would prove to be an end to end start. Trotters’ winger Lloyd Isgrove ‘pulled the trigger’ but his shot sailed over from the edge of the box after a cross.
Bolton dominated during the late stages of the opening ten minutes. Top scorer Eoin Doyle had two good chances to open the scoring. However, Scott Davies would palm the first effort away and the second effort would travel just past the post. This was somewhat of a let off for the visitors.
The ball soon found its way at the other end of the pitch, veteran midfielder looking to slide away a pass through to striker James Vaughan. However, Trotters’ defender Ricardo Santos made his quality evident as he tracked the run and saw the ball out.
The visitors continued to impress as they entered a period of attacking domination. Forward Kieron Morris, using his ability to create space for himself before getting his shot away from the edge of the box, was unfortunately unable to hit the target.
Morris would again be in action when he would cross the ball into the box, Blackett-Taylor would collect this cross and fire a shot off the woodwork.
The visitors would hit the woodwork again a few moments afterwards, striker Vaughan getting in behind a leaking defensive line and crashing a half volley off the bar. However, this goalbound attempt wouldn’t have counted due to the linesman’s flag being up to signal for offside.
The linesman would again have an impact on play when he awarded a corner, one minute later. Feeney put in an inch perfect corner which met the head of centre half Peter Clarke for a downward header. GOALLL! Clarke, the club’s second highest goalscorer, adding to his tally. The 38-year-old’s fourth goal of the season.
The Whites would dominate play in the later stages of the first half, although there was little progressive action remaining of the opening forty-five minutes. Bolton’s midfielder George Thomason crossing into the far post, an effort that would go harmlessly out of play. Tranmere’s full-back Liam Ridehalgh would attempt to find Morris down the line but it would run through to the keeper.
SECOND HALF –
Very early into the second half, the hosts would get extremely close to levelling the scoreline. Striker Nathan Delfouneso’s low shot was deflected off Vaughan and onto the far post, the ball had beaten Davies but thankfully for the visitors not the woodwork.
The Trotters would have another chance to score when former Premier League centre half Alex Baptiste would cross the ball beautifully into the box. The cross met the head of Doyle who glanced his effort a few yards past the post.
Rovers would find themselves in the box when Ridehalgh fired a brilliant cross into the area. However, nobody was in a good position to slot home from close range. This was a great chance to double the scoreline unfortunately missed due to poor positioning.
Hill would make his first substitution of the game when a change in midfield was needed. Jay Spearing’s time was cut short, due to an injury, Ollie Banks would replace him. This could’ve changed the game as it meant there was only one truly defensive player in the middle of the pitch for the visitors, Jack Young did his job perfectly well and no problems were caused.
It wouldn’t be long before the hosts were placed with another fantastic opportunity to equalize. Young loanee full-back Calum MacDonald with a vital intervention at the back post to deny a certain goal.
A second substitution was made when the London-born striker Morgan Ferrier replaced Blackett-Taylor. Taylor had played well but it was time for fresh legs to tire the Trotters defence, in the aim of adding another to the scoreline.
The scoreline was added to, one minute later. Morris was found with the ball at his feet 25 yards away from goal, the defence wouldn’t get close to him and the forward punished that. A beautifully taken goal, the ball landing in the bottom corner away from the goalkeeper’s reach. The game seemed comfortable.
Sid Nelson, who had replaced Manny Monthe in the named eleven, had made his quality evident in a performance that should see him solidify his place for the long-term. He did great to stop Doyle getting a cross in this moment of play. If he didn’t, a comeback may have been open for the hosts to complete.
However, shortly afterwards at the other end a Rovers man would fire a shot goal bound and this would be stopped with a handball from a Trotters defender. The referee saw this and acted on it, awarding a penalty to the Whites!
Vaughan, as he does best, hammered the ball home from twelve yards into the top corner. This was the side’s third of the afternoon, it was also the experienced forward’s tenth league goal in seventeen games.
In truth, the hosts dominated the later stages of the second half in the search of a consolation goal. Isgrove crossed the ball to the front post but goalscorer Clarke cleared it away comfortably. MacDonald put in another superb block to stop Doyle’s powerful shot from close range.
In an attempt to waste a bit of game time in the 88th minute, Hill completed the option of making five changes. O’Connor, Lloyd and Woolery came on for Feeney, Morris and Vaughan. This plan worked, Rovers saw the game out comfortably.
Bolton Wanderers 0 Tranmere Rovers 3
A very deserved three points for the ‘super whites’, a victory that sees the Merseyside outfit go within three points of the fourth division play offs. Fans should be excited about the future following this performance.
POST MATCH REACTION (taken from the club’s official website) –
‘That was a little bit of payback to the supporters for last week, we showed our quality today’ – Keith Hill
‘We played well today, we need to be consistent now’ – Calum MacDonald
LINE UPS –
Bolton Wanderers – Gilks, Baptiste, Santos, Delaney, Jones, Sarvecic, Thomason, Brockbank (Crawford ‘63), Isgrove, Doyle, Delfouneso
Tranmere Rovers – Davies, Macdonald, Nelson, Clarke, Ridehalgh, Morris (O’Connor 89’), Spearing (Banks 57’), Young, Feeney (Woolery 89’), Vaughan (Lloyd 89’), Blackett-Taylor (Ferrier 67’)
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistant Referees: Scott Williams and Chris Isherwood
Fourth Official: Samuel Barrott
Thank you very much for reading,