Michael O’Hallaran is desperate to get his first Tranmere goal
MICHAEL O’HALLORAN aims to get off the mark with a first Tranmere goal at Prenton Park today after making a positive start to his loan spell from Bolton Wanderers.
The 21-year-old striker can expect to be paired with leading marksman Jake Cassidy as Rovers attempt to strengthen their position at the top of the League One table with a home game against Portsmouth.
Manager Ronnie Moore reckons O’Halloran’s pace and quality on the ball make him the right kind of replacement for long-term casualty Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
And although the Glaswegian did not find the net on his debut, the 1-1 draw at Stevenage, or in the 2-1 FA Cup success over Chesterfield last Saturday, he set up the winner for Adam McGurk against the Spireites and was denied a goal when the match officials decided his late header did not cross the line.
O’Halloran said: “Every striker likes to score goals but I think creating them is really important as well. An assist can be as valuable as a goal.
“I thought I had scored with my header towards the end of the Chesterfield game. I was quite annoyed with the linesman because I thought it was a good yard behind the line. I wasn’t sure the referee or the linesman had failed to see it.
“I was disappointed and I’m sure the goals will come. Hopefully I will get one against Portsmouth.”
O’Halloran said he had no hesitation in agreeing to join Tranmere on a loan that runs until early January.
“I did not have to think twice when Tranmere came in,” O’Halloran said. “I just had to look at Tranmere’s position in the league. I’m here to help the team and to help myself by making a good impression.
“I’ve had no trouble settling in. The lads have been brilliant for me since I came down. They made me feel welcome straight away.”
Although O’Halloran’s first-team opportunities with Bolton had been restricted to a couple of cup ties, he played eight games during a loan spell with Sheffield United towards the end of last season, including the play-off matches.
He said: “The loan at Sheffield United was a good experience. I got to Wembley in the play-off final and we lost (to Huddersfield Town) which was unfortunate. But I know a bit about this division. It’s a good standard, with some good teams and some good players.”
O’Halloran sees Portsmouth’s visit as “a big game.” He said: “They were a Premier League team not so long ago. They will be wanting to come up here and knock us off the top.”
O’Halloran says he likes to play on the shoulder of defenders, and did the job to positive effect against Chesterfield, winning man of the match nominations and praise from manager Moore.
However, Moore fears he will be without centre-back Ben Gibson against Portsmouth as the teenage centre-back struggles with a strain.
“The way Ben is moving and talking, I think he would have to be Lazarus to get through and play on Saturday,” Moore said.
“We’ve also lost James Wallace for six weeks with medial ligaments so we are a little bit short. This is what happens when you have a small squad.”
Ash Taylor is favourite to return to the heart of the defence in place of Gibson, although Moore also has the option of selecting young loan signing Donervorn Daniels alongside Ian Goodison.
Tranmere will be able to welcome back loan players Jake Cassidy and Liam Palmer, who sat out the Chesterfield game because their parent clubs did not want them to be cup-tied.