“It felt fantastic to win and we deserved it. We started nice and brightly. People were asking if the first goal was handball or not but you have to play the whistle and it was a great finish from Andy Robinson. The second goal came at the right time for us. We were 2-0 up at half-time and I got greedy. I was thinking we could get four goals, just to lift the confidence. We did not go on in the second half as I hoped we would. But defensively we were solid,” RONNIE MOORE enthuses about Tranmere’s win.
“Tranmere bombed us for about 10 to 15 minutes and we came through that. Then two situations went the wrong way for us. One was that we had the chance to draw first blood with Matty Spring hitting the post, and then the handball for the first goal. I just looked at the incident again and there is no way he (Robinson) can guide the ball in the path it has gone without it hitting his arm. How the referee can't give that is beyond me. The devastating thing was the second goal. It was avoidable. We did not defend it well,” Leyton Orient manager RUSSELL SLADE has cause for complaint.
TRANMERE behaved like a team intent on making their own luck on Saturday and claimed a result that made Prenton Park’s 100th anniversary celebrations go with a swing.
Rovers’ first win in 2012 and the first in 13 League One outings was achieved by virtue of seizing the initiative from the start on making the most of good fortune.
Important brakes went the home team’s way in the first half, most notably when the woodwork prevented Leyton Orient from taking the lead and then when referee Andrew Madley rejected strong claims that Andy Robinson handled before lashing the first goal into the roof of the net on 35 minutes.
They were just the kind of breaks that went against Tranmere during the creeping run of narrow defeats and draws which led to Les Parry’s departure as manager at the start of last week.
There was nothing fortunate about Tranmere’s second goal however, which was well worked and finished off by Enoch Showunmi at a psychologically important time, seconds before the interval.
Orient, a little short of confidence themselves, were not robust enough to force their way back into the contest after that.
The fans on the Kop went home singing the name of the new manager. Ronnie Moore knows how to make the psychology of a fresh start work in lifting the dressing room and lifting the morale of supporters.
He won’t let up with a victory which took Tranmere four points above the relegation places, especially when another home game against Preston tomorrow provides an opportunity to extend the cushion further.
The biggest ovation of the afternoon was rightly reserved for one of Birkenhead’s own, Andy Robinson.
The attacking midfielder, operating from a role on the left, was the creative driving force who gave Orient’s defenders most to worry about with his probing runs and passes.
The 32-year-old’s performance provided a reminder of why he was such a strong influence on the side during the first month of the season, and why his prolonged absences with hamstring and knee injuries proved so costly.
Moore is hoping a groin strain that forced Robinson out of the action 10 minutes before the end is not serious enough to put him on the sidelines once more.
The example of Robinson’s enthusiasm and industry was followed elsewhere in the side. Central midfielders James Wallace and John Welsh put in a big effort to prevent Orient’s middle trio gaining an advantage, while Lucas Akins looked more at home on the right flank, where he can run at the opposition, than he did at centre forward in the drawn game against Notts County last week.
Ryan Brunt benefited from playing alongside a striking partner of experience in Showunmi. The teenager looked a little more composed and assured this time out, most notably in holding off defenders and bringing team-mates into play.
Tranmere came out of the blocks fast, eager to exploit any early nerves in an Orient side battered 4-2 by Wycombe Wanderers on their previous outing.
The early charge might well have paid dividends. Within five minutes Wallace sent a fizzing low shot wide, Robinson was unable to put any power behind a close range effort and was then denied a penalty claim after falling under a challenge from behind by Syan Ben Youssef. Four minutes later Jamal Campbell-Ryce anxiously sliced a low cross from Robinson narrowly over his own crossbar.
The visitors were just beginning to find a measure of composure when Matty Spring, their most effective player, clipped a 22-yard free-kick over Tranmere’s defensive wall and against the left-hand post with goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams beaten.
The let-off sparked Tranmere into another flurry of attacks. Brunt sent a rising shot over the bar after linking neatly on the edge of the box with Showunmi on 33 minutes. Two minutes later David Buchanan’s corner from the right was pushed out by goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and Robinson enjoyed the benefit of the referee’s doubts about whether he used his arm as well as his chest to control the rebound, tee it up on the half volley and send a venomous angled shot high into the net.
The officials waved away Orient protests.
The game had moved into a minute of first half injury time when Tranmere struck again. Akins did well to provide full-back Danny Holmes with a chance to cross from wide on the right. Holmes, whose corner set up John Welsh’s equaliser against Notts County, delivered another dangerous ball, this time low to the far post where Showunmi stretched out a long leg to ram the chance home.
Tranmere were a little more guarded about throwing players forward after the break, understandably so for a team that had won only once in the previous 19 games.
Orient, needing to hit back early in the half, missed one half chance when striker David Mooney fired over from 15 yards on 50 minutes and a quarter of an hour later a close range glancing header from defender Ben Chorley was parried out by a startled Fon Williams. The Welsh goalkeeper was not seriously extended until a quarter of our from the end, when he dived full length to push out Spring’s shot and was grateful to see substitute George Porter’s effort from the rebound take a deflection into the side netting.
Tranmere, in spite of their caution, might have made more of some counter-attacking opportunities with a better final ball. They at least demonstrated they have not forgotten the art of protecting a two-goal advantage – even though they are a little out of practice.
TRANMERE (4-4-2): Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Goodison, Buchanan, Akins (Weir 88), Welsh, Wallace, Robinson (Labadie 81), Brunt, Showunmi (Bakayogo 68). Not used: Coughlin, Stockton.
LEYTON ORIENT (4-5-1): Rachubka, Youssef, Chorley, Forbes, McSweeney, Jimmy Smith (Laird 77), Reed, Andrew, Spring, Campbell-Ryce (Porter 46), Mooney. Not used: Cestor, Lovelock, Jamie Smith.
GOALS: Robinson (35), Showunmi (45).
REFEREE: Andrew Madley.