Tranmere Rovers v Leicester City U21s – The match report.
Papa Johns Trophy
Wednesday 13th January 2021
Tranmere progressed to the quarterfinals of the Papa Johns Trophy with a thrilling 4-2 victory against Leicester City’s U21s, last night. The cup tie at Prenton Park was never going to be easy, yet it was certainly a chance to show the team’s ability and strength against an exciting academy team. When Keith Hill joined Tranmere, in November 2020, he made his love of attacking football evident with his choice of words in his first meeting with the press. This style of play was shown better than ever before, Rovers placing 10 shots on target in what can only be described as an exceptional performance.
The selected eleven caused a problem in the minds of many supporters, it seemed that Hill had gone crazy as he had put the names of seven attackers on the team sheet and there were no full-backs. However, his aim and wishes were soon made evident. Rovers have a little number of defenders to do their job on the wings, three to be exact, thus the manager didn’t want to risk any further issues. Liam Ridehalgh is currently on the treatment table with a rib injury thus this number gets lowered to two. As replacements, Otis Khan and Kieron Morris were chosen to play as wing-backs. Joe Murphy replaced Scott Davies between the sticks, Danny Lloyd and Corey Blackett-Taylor also started from the off.
In truth, the hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes and if it wasn’t for the visiting goalkeeper Leicester could’ve gone into halftime at least five goals down.
Morgan Ferrier opened the scoreline for Hill’s team within the first five minutes as he fired a shot powerfully underneath Jakub Stolarcyzk. The explosive forward continued to impress with the ball at his feet when his team working attributes were made evident, Ferrier laid the ball off to Jay Spearing just inside the box but the keeper made his first of many great saves.
The Foxes first attempt came just before the twenty minute mark, 21-year-old Ali Reghba picked up Khan’s loose pass but the right winger was unable to test Murphy from 25 yards out.
Their defensive attributes continued to show when they got in the way of the ball to deny Paul Lewis’ shot following a dangerous cross from Lloyd.
Another forward that shone, in a game which he needed to, was Blackett-Taylor. Following a period of great action, where the visiting shot-stopper showed his quality on different occasions, ‘CBT’ hooked his effort over the bar after Lewis flicked the ball on.
The team full of hopeful seniors fired the ball into Rovers’ net when Murphy was unable to reach Jacob Wakeling’s effort. The centre-forward was aided with a bit of luck as the defenders were unable to get near him yet he certainly made his pace and precision known about. This goal wouldn’t mean much for long, Lloyd would soon head home from a brilliant Blackett-Taylor cross from the edge of the box. There was a slight confusion as many thought this was Ferrier’s second strike but, on reflection, it was certainly the midfielder’s first of two.
Ferrier could’ve added to his tally when he forced the keeper into another great save with a very powerful left footed shot on the turn.
The visitors could’ve surprisingly went into the break with an even scoreline, Spearing showed his ability to be in the right place at the right time when he cleared an effort off the line. However, all hopes of being level at the break were soon set aside when Lloyd added his second.
The Tranmere manager, evidently pleased with his team’s performance, made no changes at half time. The aim remained the same though, ‘continue to attack’.
Within the opening stages of the second half, this message was met with a lofted ball into the box from Lewis but the keeper collected on his second attempt to do so. The Whites would soon gain more fortune when they broke away to form a counter attack between Ferrier and Blackett-Taylor. The striker fed the ball into the path of the winger who was then able to stroke the ball into the bottom corner of Stolarczyk’s net, a well deserved goal considering his contribution.
The Foxes were able to bring one back when the Thailand-born Suengchittawon fired a shot past Murphy from 25 yards out. An immense effort, in my opinion.
Within the past twenty minutes, Hill made four changes to a team that were leading relatively comfortably. On came: James Vaughan, Kaiyne Woolery, Kyle Hayde, George Nugent. Off went: Ferrier, Spearing, Lloyd and Blackett-Taylor. The changes were made on either side of a good chance for the Foxes, the ball went into the six yard box but was flicked wide.
There was little action left in the game following the changes, despite the game still flowing well. Midfielder Banks found substitute Woolery, who was breaking away, but he frustratingly shot over the bar with his left foot. The forward would later counter again, this time bringing the keeper into action with a great near post save.
Tranmere Rovers 4 Leicester City U21s 2
This victory means that Rovers progress into the Quarter finals of the trophy. Here, they have the chance of facing: Sunderland, Lincoln City, Hull, AFC Wimbledon, MK, Oxford United and Peterborough United. The draw will take place on 23rd January.
In my opinion, this was a phenomenal performance from Rovers as the players that needed to prove their ability after a period of unsuccessful performances contributed to a highly attacking ninety minutes. The likes of goalscorer Blackett-Taylor, who had failed to shine in the cup tie at Barnsley, being one.
Ollie Banks was my man of the match, the midfielder dominated his area and fired many balls into great positions for the Whites to attack.
Three of Tranmere’s key men from this midweek cup tie. Lloyd, Blackett-Taylor and Ferrier all starred as each of them scored. Central midfielder Danny Llloyd fired two past Leicester’s immense shot stopper Stolarczyk.
Referee – Marc Edwards.
Assistants – Joe Simpson and Matthew Parry.
Team Sheets –
Tranmere – Joe Murphy, Otis Khan, George Ray, Manny Monthe, Kieron Morris, Jay Spearing, Ollie Banks, Paul Lewis, Morgan Ferrier, Danny Lloyd, Corey Blackett-Taylor.
Used substitutes – Kyle Hayde (75’), George Nugent (75’), James Vaughan (70’), Kaiyne Woolery (70’).
Leicester City U21s – Jakub Stolarczyk, Harvey Godsmark-Ford, Darragh O’Connor, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Callum Hulme, Shane Flynn, Sidnei Tavares, Callum Wright, Thanawat Suengchitthawon, Jacob Wakeling, Ali Reghba.
Used substitutes – Ethan Fitzhugh (85’), Kasey McAteer (64’), Terrell Pennant (64’), Dempsey Arlott-John (45’).
Thank you very much for reading,