More Prenton Park misery
Tranmere 2, Saints 0
There’s a dark corner in the collective psyche of all associated with SFC especially reserved for Tranmere Rovers. I imagine it as accessed via something like those wrought iron cemetery gates that always seem to feature in The Simpsons Halloween specials; only these gates would bear the chilling legend “Welcome to Prenton Park” and inside would be a vaguely misty, cold midwinter afternoon on Merseyside (or, for the stuff of real nightmares, a midweek cup replay).
Nearly 30 years ago, some very good Southampton teams had an appalling record at Goodison Park, where they were out-run by Everton’s aggressive midfielders, but Tranmere lack the skills for that. There’s plenty of effort, combined with a physical approach and a hint that officials aren’t too ready to protect players who need a second touch on a bumpy pitch – but none of that is particularly unusual in our league.
Saints were already struggling to assert themselves when Fonte and Davis stood around waiting for one or the other to take some decisive action, and this let an amazed Welsh come from miles away to nip in between them to score – most of the blame has to be directed at the keeper.
Southampton’s only effort in a hugely disappointing first half was Guly’s header from Dickson’s cross that Warner clawed away to safety. Although the second half performance was far better in terms of possession, finding opportunities on goal remained difficult, and all we can look back on are two more worthy saves from headers: one by Barnard, and one that nearly produced an own goal.
After 60 minutes Saints had gone two adrift anyway, thanks to an amazing goal by Dale Jennings, the Alex Chamberlain of The Wirrall. OK, maybe someone could have got closer to him sooner, and maybe Davis’ position was neither one thing or another, but we’re unlikely to see too many strikes like that in League One. Barnard was booked for diving in the penalty area, which seemed a fair decision to me, but it only helped the belief that visits to this part of the world are cursed.
LSSC Man of the Match: Rickie Lambert, for trying hard on his return to Merseyside.
05 Dickson (Barnard)