JEAN-LOUIS AKPA AKPRO faces a club fine on top of the punishment of a three match suspension for his dismissal in Tranmere’s 1-0 defeat to Carlisle United at the weekend.
The French striker was shown a straight red card for aiming a retaliatory kick at Carlisle fullback Frank Simek in the 37th minute of the game at Prenton Park.
Although Akpa Akpro did not make contact, referee Tony Harrington was left with no alternative but to send him off for violent conduct. Tranmere’s 10 men conceded the game’s only goal to Rory Loy seven minutes later and in spite of a spirited second-half effort, lost at home for the third time this season.
Manager Ronnie Moore said: “What a stupid thing for Akpa Akpro to do. He will be fined. He let everybody down.
“As good a player as he is, you can’t do that. The referee had no option. We all pay for one stupid moment and lack of professionalism. You could call it violent conduct but what he did would not frighten my missus. He is a vital player for us and now we have lost him for the three games.”
The impact of the defeat was softened as most of Tranmere’s promotion chasing rivals had disappointing results as well.
They held on to top spot on a weekend when second placed Doncaster lost at Bury, Milton Keynes Dons were beaten by surging Bournemouth, Brentford were beaten at Yeovil, Sheffield United lost to Coventry and Swindon Town could only draw at Crawley.
Moore lamented: “If we’re going to go up we have to take our opportunities. We should have come off three points clear of Doncaster. All we have done is give all the teams chasing us some belief as well.”
Moore blamed a poor first half performance, rather than the sending off, for Tranmere’s defeat.
“We committed suicide with the way we started the game and performed in the first half,” Moore said. “For some reason we were kicking 60 and 70-yard balls, which is not us. It is not the way we play.
“We should be passing and passing and then turning the opposition to get our players with pace into the game.
“We are top of the league but we can’t turn up with seven players and get away with scraping a 2-1 win. We are not Manchester United.
“We have to have 11 players up and at it, playing at the tempo we are looking for. We did not do that in the first half and it was comfortable for Carlisle.
“In the second half we turned up. I’ll give the 10 lads a big pat on the back for their effort. All credit to Carlisle. They showed a lot of spirit to come and play the way they played, going 4-4-2 against us.”
Liam Palmer thought he had rescued a point for Tranmere when he side footed home Andy Robinson’s deflected freekick from point-blank range on 72 minutes, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside. A video recording of the incident was inconclusive.