Barnsley 2 Tranmere Rovers 0 – The match report.
Sunday 10th January 2021
FA Cup (Third round)
An away defeat in South Yorkshire against Valerien Ismael’s Championship outfit Barnsley saw Tranmere Rovers exit the FA Cup in the third round. That sentence means that this report will be a frustrating one, or does it? In the eyes of many, the visitors gave a good account of themselves in Keith Hill’s return to a former side as the cup tie was very closely contested. Also, a few players who had seen themselves out of the team with a possibility of not returning got ‘minutes under their belts’ and gave a great account of themselves. There is plenty to be positive about moving forwards, in my opinion.
There were a few changes to the Tranmere side that supporters have come to expect, Hill had said that his team was struggling from cases of COVID-19 and injuries in his pre-match press conference, thus this was inevitable. Lee O’Connor has found his way out of the squad recently, with a poor run of performances, it is safe to say that his performance on Sunday afternoon displayed his qualities and has put him in the frame for a nod in the fixtures to come. Otis Khan and Kaiyne Woolery replaced Kieron Morris and Liam Feeney in midfield, from the eleven that featured in the away draw at Barrow. George Ray and Liam Ridehalgh also came in.
The visitors showed their qualities from the off, with good defensive and forward-thinking play. Woolery tracked the run of the Barnsley right back and played the ball off him to win a goal kick in the opening stages before Morgan Ferrier looked to counter but was stopped in his tracks on the halfway line. The Whites continued their search to get near the hosts’ goal when centre half Manny Monthe looked to loft a ball into the box, this ball went out harmlessly for a goal kick.
Taking a step back from my journalistic point of view, something that the Cameroonian 25-year-old needs to work on is his ball-playing talents. It is evident that he is a good strong defender but his play going forwards has looked shabby for a while.
The first shot of the game was fired by the Barnsley forward Conor Chaplin, the youngster taking a chance from 20 yards out but this effort went inches past the post.
Woolery, Tranmere’s winger, again showed his defensive attributes. The summer signing was well placed at the back post to head away a threatening-looking cross from the Liverpool academy graduate midfielder, Herbie Kane.
Rovers first great chance to open the scoreline came when the ball landed at Woolery’s head at the back post, his effort went goal bound but was caught by Bradley Collins. The keeper was again called into action when Otis Khan broke free down the right, he cut inside and whipped a cross towards top-scorer James Vaughan but the keeper collected.
At the other end, full-back loanee O’Connor put in a superb tackle to block Chaplin’s shot as he found himself one on one with Scott Davies. The visitors dug in deep to reach half time with an even scoreline, George Ray showing the talent that he has struggled to prove so far with a block from Styles’ shot inside the box and a clearance off the line after Cauley Woodrow ran past the Tranmere shot-stopper.
The final promising chance of the first half came when Woolery showed a blistering burst of pace, the ball was cut back to experienced striker Vaughan but his shot was saved by the legs of the keeper. Ferrier looked frustrated as he stood behind the shot-taker in a perfect position to open the scoreline.
There were no changes made at half time, Hill being happy with what he had seen from his side’s performance in the first half. The Manchester-born manager may have thought that a cup ‘upset’ was possible, especially given that his team had created and took their chances relatively well, but to be stopped by the hosts’ keeper.
In the opening stages of the second half, Kaiyne Woolery used his past to get past a Barnsley man but the ball which he would then put across the six-yard box would fail to find a team-mates foot.
Morgan Ferrier also tried his best to create an opportunity to open the scoreline, twisting and turning until his shot was blocked by the young Dane Mads Juel Andersen.
It wouldn’t take long for the first goal to be scored, frustratingly for Rovers who had started the half off in a positive manner. The Polish Michal Helik slotted past Scott Davies with a header at the far post just before the hour mark.
The visitor’s first substitution was soon made. Morgan Ferrier, who had used his pace well across the course of the game to get past the hosts’ defence on numerous occasions, was replaced by Corey Blackett-Taylor. An injection of pace up top for a team searching for an equaliser. In hindsight, this change didn’t work. Blackett-Taylor failed to impress.
However, two chances for Rovers followed this change. Otis Khan struck a free-kick from 25 yards out goal-bound but his effort would sail over the crossbar. Woolery would again have a say in the play when the ball landed at his feet, the London-born forward would disappointingly volley his effort over the bar.
There came a break in play when full-back Liam Ridehalgh sat himself down on the pitch with a supposed rib cage injury. The experienced defender was replaced by academy product striker Jake Burton, the youngster deserved a chance to shine and he took this opportunity well.
O’Connor would make another vital interception, in the six-yard box, when he blocked Styles’shot. It looked like the 20-year-old was about to double the hosts’ lead thus this block added to an already successful afternoon for the Celtic loanee.
The Whites’ final roll of the dice, Otis Khan replaced by Kieron Morris, as the cup tie was nearing into the final ten minutes.
There was little goal-bound action following this change, other than a dubious penalty awarded in injury time. Top-scorer Cauley Woodrow fired the ball past Davies, sending the veteran captain the wrong way to seal the tie as a win for his team.
Barnsley 2 Tranmere Rovers 0
I genuinely thought that Tranmere gave a good showing of themselves against good opposition in the form of the striving Championship outfit Barnsley. George Ray and Lee O’Connor were exceptional at the back, Jay Spearing and Kaiyne Woolery were great in the middle of the pitch and Morgan Ferrier put in another solid performance. Rovers may be out of the cup competition but there is plenty to be proud of in a game that should be used as a benchmark for things to come.
Shots – 20/5
On target – 6/2
Possession – 58%/42%
Passes – 443/331
Pass accuracy – 62%/51%
Fouls – 11/9
Yellow cards – 0/0
Red cards – 0/0
Offsides – 2/3
Corners – 6/3
Collins, Brittain, Sollbauer, Helik, Andersen, Styles, Kane, Mowatt, Frieser, Woodrow, Chaplin.
Subs – Walton, Williams, Thomas, Schmidt, Sibbick, Palmer, Oduor, Adeboyejo, Moon.
Tranmere Rovers –
Davies, O’Connor, Ray, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Woolery, Lewis, Spearing, Khan, Vaughan, Ferrier.
Subs – Murphy, Ellis, Morris, Blackett-Taylor, Hayde, Nugent, Burton, Banks.
Referee – Oliver Langford.
Assistants – Matthew McGrath and Phillip Dermott.
Fourth official – Scott Oldham.
Forward Kaiyne Woolery had a very successful afternoon, he got past the hosts’ back line on many occasions in the search of creating or opening the scoreline. He didn’t do either but his name should be on the teamsheet of the next league encounter given the qualities he displayed.
Thank you very much for reading,
All the best,