Brave Tranmere Rovers are left to deal with more misfortune in home defeat to Stockport County
THEY say fortune favours the brave but that wasn’t the case at Prenton Park last night. Caretaker manager Les Parry went for broke as he rung the changes and put the emphasis firmly on attack in a bold bid to kick-start Tranmere’s dire League One campaign.
But the Rovers cult hero was left cursing his luck as a string of first half chances went begging before his side lost their way after the break.
It took the dismissal of keeper Luke Daniels midway through the second half and Carl Baker’s subsequent penalty to spark Rovers into life.
And as a late flurry from the hosts went unrewarded it was the same old sorry story.
Tranmere are the league’s lowest scorers with just nine in 12 games and that lack of firepower cost them dear once again against Gary Ablett’s fellow strugglers.
Parry, relishing the chance to step up from his role as physio following the sacking of John Barnes, couldn’t argue with the commitment, but quality is desperately thin on the ground.
Chairman Peter Johnson hailed this game in front of the Sky cameras as “a welcome opportunity to showcase the club” but he’s unlikely to find a queue of candidates outside his office today.
Parry had urged supporters to turn out in force and he received a great reception from the 5,645-strong crowd – the club’s second highest home gate of the season.
Rovers welcomed back defender Marlon Broomes after suspension and Parry handed starts to Gareth Edds, Alan Mahon, Terry Gornell and Craig Curran in a positive 4-3-3 formation.
There was also a debut for left-back Zoumana Bakayogo, who has signed a short-term deal with the club until January.
The Ivory Coast Under-23 international was released by Millwall last season and on last night’s evidence he looks a decent acquisition.
Rovers started brightly with Stockport hassled and harried into making mistakes.
Alan Mahon blazed over early on and then Gareth Edds rose to meet Shaleum Logan’s cross but nodded too close to keeper Owain Fon Williams.
The lively Curran lashed a shot over from a tight angle and a vicious strike from Ian Thomas-Moore was blocked as Rovers cranked up the pressure.
Midway through the half the visitors were carved open once again. Mahon did brilliantly to win back possession and Thomas-Moore released Bakayogo down the left.
His cross picked out Curran but his acrobatic volley was kept out by Williams.
Rovers’ only real concern in the first half were of their own making with Daniels’ poor clearance landing at the feet of top scorer Baker. However, the former Southport man failed to hit the target.
Just before the half hour mark Bakayogo provided another perfect delivery and Williams had to be at his best to push away Curran’s strike.
On the stroke of half-time Rovers should have broken the deadlock as
Paul McLaren’s corner picked out the unmarked Edds but he headed straight at the keeper.
After the break it was a different story with Tranmere sloppily conceding possession. Stockport sensed their chance and finally started to commit players forward.
Baker always carried the greatest threat and he burst past Ian Goodison before dragging a shot just wide.
The game’s defining moment came in the 65th minute as Williams’ punt downfield wasn’t dealt with and James Vincent was gifted a clear run on goal.
Daniels clipped his heels and duly saw red for a professional foul.
Joe Collister came off the bench with Mahon sacrificed but the young keeper had no chance as Baker coolly dispatched his 10th goal of the campaign.
Tranmere responded positively to that setback and threatened an equaliser late on.
Curran should have done better when he diverted a cross from Bakayogo into Williams’ arms, while sub John Welsh had pleas for a spot-kick waved away.
With 15 minutes to go Curran was agonisingly close to converting Edds’ strike and Thomas-Moore whistled a shot just past the post but there was no way through.