Nov 15 2012 The Liverpool Post
TEENAGER Cole Stockton enhanced his claims for a regular place in Tranmere’s starting line-up with a compelling performance in front of the national TV cameras.
Stockton played a pivotal role in Rovers’ 3-0 victory over Braintree Town in a rescheduled FA Cup first round tie on Tuesday.
He scored one goal and set up the other two for Joe Thompson and Max Power as Ronnie Moore’s League One leaders booked a second round tie at home to Chesterfield at the beginning of next month.
Now the 18-year-old from Rainhill hopes he will be in the selection frame when Tranmere’s League One encounter against MK Dons at Prenton Park tomorrow is broadcast on Sky.
Stockton, a first-year professional, made only his second starting appearance for Rovers at Braintree as an 11th hour replacement for Adam McGurk, who sustained an injury in training.
Manager Moore said: “Cole did well. He is still young and learning the game but he ran the line well, often on his own. We needed a bit more from (striking partner) Jake Jervis, who is not giving us what we expect from him.”
The majority of Stockton’s 14 Tranmere appearances have been as a substitute but he made a positive impact in the 2-0 win at Hartlepool last week, scoring the second goal in injury time.
Moore says he has been reluctant to pair Stockton with leading marksman Jake Cassidy because the two strikers are similar in style. But he admits Stockton’s recent performances have given him food for thought.
Cassidy, a loan player who was declined permission to play in the FA Cup by his parent club Wolves, will be available again for MK Dons.
However, Moore’s selection options for tomorrow night may be hit by a new crop of casualties.
Wide midfielder Thompson suffered a thigh injury during the first half at Cressing Road while centre-back Ash Taylor limped off with a hamstring strain in the second half and was replaced by the veteran Ian Goodison.
Rovers had to leave out Abdulai Bell-Baggie, McGurk and long-term casualty Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro in midweek while another loan player, Nathan Eccleston, is back with parent club Blackpool for treatment to a hamstring injury.
Moore said: “The injuries are ridiculous. Another wide man goes off with a thigh and the centre-half goes off with a hamstring injury. We’ll be lucky to patch together a team on Friday.”
Tranmere, though not at their best against non-league Braintree, avoided any mishaps on a soggy pitch.
Moore said: “It wasn’t a sparkling performance but you have to knuckle down and that’s what we did.”