Goalless draw with Carlisle marks Tranmere’s progress
TWO in-form sides worked their festive socks off to cancel each other out in front of the best crowd of the season at Prenton Park.
Tranmere, beaten only once in their last eight outings, had marginally the better of the Bank Holiday stalemate.
Carlisle, demonstrating the organisation and discipline that has seen them take 11 points from the last five unbeaten League One games, might have nicked the spoils in a strong finish when substitutes Scott Dobie and Joe Anyinsah missed late chances. But the Cumbrians would have been flattered by an outright victory.
The best opportunity of the afternoon fell to Ian Thomas-Moore and the Tranmere skipper must be wondering how he contrived to miss an open target after a volley from Craig Curran rebounded from the underside of the crossbar in the 60th minute.
Rovers’ unyielding performance showed how far they have progressed since they were beaten 3-0 by Carlisle at Brunton Park in September.
Shaleum Logan, sent off after being given a torrid time by Mattie Robson that day, had the talented midfielder under control this time as Rovers kept their fifth clean sheet in that eight-game sequence.
Manager Les Parry wasn’t disappointed by Tranmere’s performance. He said: “I think when we look back we will find that was a good point we took today. I’ve just been talking to (coach) Shaun Garnett about how this was the type of game we could have lost a couple of months ago because Carlisle are a good, strong side. The lads were resilient and kept on pushing forward.
“It was important we did not lose and I think in the end the two teams cancelled each other out.”
Parry added: “We had chances towards the end of the first half and there were periods in the second half when we dominated the game. But we could have actually lost it at the end. I think we edged each half but a draw was probably a fair result.”
Parry said he wanted to stick with the line-up that overcame Bristol Rovers nine days earlier so Marlon Broomes, available again after suspension, had to spend the afternoon on the substitutes’ bench.
Teenager Ash Taylor, keeping his place at the heart of the back four, responded with another strong performance in subduing the threat of Carlisle’s tall striker Vincent Pericard.
There wasn’t a lot of first half excitement to entertain the spectators on chilly and misty afternoon. Most of the action took place in the middle third of the pitch.
Rovers did take more of the initiative the longer the first 45 minutes wore on and finished strongly, winning a succession of corners from which Ian Goodison directed a header wide and midfielder Gareth Edds had a cross-shot blocked by defender.
However, the home side were also grateful to see Carlisle’s Adam Clayton smash a low shot wide of the left-hand post.
Tranmere went close to taking the lead on 52 minutes when Taylor was first to a free-kick swept in from the left by Paul McLaren and glanced a header a narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
A minute later Carlisle were just as close when Robson’s deflected shot was kept out by a sprawling save from Luke Daniels.
Rovers should have taken the lead on the hour. Curran thought he had scored when sending an instinctive volley crashing against the underside of the crossbar from a dozen yards. The rebound dropped for Thomas-Moore, who had time to steady himself but poked it wide of the empty net from a tight angle.
Rovers maintained the pressure and Logan, wriggling into space inside the box, shot straight at goalkeeper Adam Collin.
Carlisle saved their best to last, carving out two clear-cut chances in the final five minutes. When full-back Evan Horwood swept in a dangerous cross from the left on 85 minutes, substitute Dobie jumped high above the pack to direct a downward header narrowly wide of the target.
A minute later Anyinsah was thwarted by great block tackle by Zoumana Bakayogo after bursting into the box on the right – then missed his kick completely when the rebound dropped in front of him with only Daniels to beat.
LAST night Parry was able to confirm that Bakayogo has agreed to extend his contract with Tranmere until the end of the season. The full-back’s current, short-term deal was due to expire on Thursday.