Chesterfield 1 Tranmere 0: Rovers beaten and Les Parry loses his job
“I thought the pressure showed a little bit today. I thought we played with a little bit of fear and that makes it even more difficult and makes mistakes even more probable. That is natural. You cannot criticise players because this is the predicament we are in.” Tranmere manager LES PARRY.
“The lads worked really hard. We started on the edge, but we got into the game and it was a very workmanlike performance against a team that doesn't concede many. To keep a clean sheet was also pleasing,” Chesterfield manager JOHN SHERIDAN.
AT the midway point of an afternoon of edgy, fractured football, no one at the B2net Stadium could be in any doubt that they were witnessing a game between the team at the foot of League One and the team at the bottom of the division’s current form table.
Chesterfield won the three precious survival points at stake because they were able to raise their game a notch or two in the second half.
Tranmere could not match the home side by lifting their own performance and subsided to a ninth defeat in the last 10 away games. The result left them just one point above the relegation places and the gap between Rovers and Chesterfield, who have spent much of the season in 24th position, dropped to four points.
The majority of those nine defeats were by single-goal margins but this time Tranmere could not have any complaints about deserving some reward for their performance. Chesterfield won it on merit.
Afterwards manager Les Parry gave a frank interview in which he acknowledged the possibility that chairman Peter Johnson might decide to dispense with his services at any moment. The following morning the two men met and Parry was dismissed.
To the end Parry was understanding of the feelings of those supporters who had been calling for his dismissal for several weeks – but was not inclined to oblige them by resigning.
“I have been successful in everything I’ve done and I believe I have been successful in this job,” said Parry. His achievements in keeping Tranmere in League One in his first two seasons should not be underestimated.
There was no attempt to varnish a performance at Chesterfield that fell short of the positive response he was looking for following an equally costly defeat at Oldham Athletic a week earlier.
Jordan Bowery’s 75th-minute goal always had the look of a killer blow because Tranmere found it such a struggle to turn possession into pressure and promising situations into chances.
Chesterfield goalkeeper Tommy Lee did not have a difficult save to make throughout the afternoon. His scramble to the near post late in the game was to cover an Andy Robinson snapshot that was probably going to miss the target.
Tranmere’s football was too often hobbled by anxiety and dwindling confidence, although defensively there wasn’t much wrong. Ian Goodison delivered yet another reminder that at the age of 39, he is still among the most effective centre-backs in the division.
Three home games in the next eight days provides an opportunity to post a morale-boosting victory or two and halt at least some of the grim statistical sequences that have become such a burden.
Tranmere’s afternoon began encouragingly enough. They were the better side in the opening 20 minutes, dominating possession while Chesterfield were attempting to work the after-effects of a 4-0 midweek defeat to Charlton Athletic out of their system.
Rovers had their best opportunity during this spell, when skipper John Welsh was well set up by Andy Robinson and sent a left-foot volley dipping just over the crossbar.
A goal at that point might have shot Chesterfield off at the knees.
As it was the home side gradually clawed their way back into the contest. Bowery forced goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams into an athletic save on 25 minutes and Jack Lester, seizing on an under-hit back-pass from Ash Taylor, rounded Fon Williams and was denied by a resourceful goal-line clearance from Goodison.
Bowery brought another fine save out of Fon Williams on the stroke of the interval and the Welshman was stretched again by a shot from winger Nicky Ajose five minutes after the restart.
Manager John Sheridan’s decision to push his wide midfield players further infield caused Tranmere some problems while the visitors were forced into a change at half-time by Martin Devaney’s hamstring injury.
Sheridan’s withdrawal of Ajose on 69 minutes went down badly with the home supporters. But all was forgiven when Lester exploited some yawning spaces through the middle of the Tranmere rearguard with a fine pass that set up Bowery for an accurate finish into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
Welsh continued to provide the most dangerous attacking threat for Tranmere.
But Rovers struggled to build attacks. Andy Robinson, returning to the side in a creative attacking role, did his best to tie passes together, even though he is still short of the sharpness and mobility that made him such a force in the early weeks of the season. Tranmere can only hope that Robinson and Enoch Showunmi can find their best form while there is still time for them to make a difference.
CHESTERFIELD (4-4-2): Lee, Talbot, Trotman, Thompson, Ridehalgh, Whitaker, Davis, Allott, Ajose (Mendy 69), Bowery, Lester (Westcarr 89). Not used: Fleming, Niven, Smith.
TRANMERE (4-4-1-1): Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Goodison, Buchanan, Devaney (Weir 46), Welsh, Wallace, McGurk (Bakayogo 76), Robinson, Brunt (Showunmi 58). Not used: Coughlin, McChrystal
GOALS: Bowery (75)
CARDS: Davis, Wallace
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone