Date: 17th September 2006 at 9:10pm
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Tranmere overcame Northampton by three goals to one on Saturday, after putting in a good performance against John Gorman’s outfit.

As Rovers fans got into the ground they were in for a minor shock.

Not only did Chris Greenacre not make the fixture after injury in midweek, but Captain Shane Sherriff also failed to beat injury in time for the game. That paved the way for Calvin Zola and Carl Tremarco to start, and as it turned out they both did very well.

Stockdale McCready Goodison(C) Tremarco
Shuker McLaren Mullin Ellison
Taylor Zola

Zola in particular started brightly. He tested Cobblers’ keeper Bunn early on with a fierce effort that the Keeper palmed away, after Shuker’s neat build up play created the oppurtunity.

In all honesty, the home should really have taken the lead though soon after that. A poor goal kick by Ward fell to Town Striker Andy Kirk, with Centre half McCready caught unawares by the keeper’s mistake, back to goal. Kirk powered forward, with Rovers’ defenders racing after him, but his shot on goal was a poor one and was scrambled away by Ward and his defence.

A minute later McCready made amends for his lack of concentration with a superb thundering tackle on a Town forward who had the ball in the Rovers box. As the ball went out for a corner and the Rovers fans roared in appreciation, McCready clenched his fists towards his supporters, as if to say ‘C’MONNN!’. This went down really well with the travelling band of Roverites, and it was good to see Chris really enjoying his football.

On 14 minutes Rovers took the lead. Ellison swung in a cross from the left and Northampton could only clear the ball as far as Calvin Zola, who turned his defender and curled in a great low shot from just inside the box that went in off the post.

Unfortunately during the celebrations of the said goal Zola somehow managed to poke Kevin Ellison in the eye by accident. Big Kev lost all vision in the eye, temporarily, and had to be substituted. Eighteen year-old forward Steve Davies replaced him in midfield.

Shortly after that holding midfield player Paul McLaren had to be substituted as he was struggling with a heel injury. Another youngster, midfielder Steve Jennings, came on.

Northampton then started to take a bit of a grip on the game, in terms of possession. However, it was Rovers once more who were to next trouble the scoreline.

A long punt away from goal from McCready was brought under control by Zola. He swept the ball out wide to Chris Shuker, who floated in an excellent ball for Gareth Taylor to head home. Rovers fans were overjoyed in the away stand, and burst into song once again.

Davies and Mullin came close to more goals before the interval, as did Crowe for the home side. As the half-time whistle blew though, the score remained at 0-0.

There was an unbelievable miss for Town soon after the restart, as striker Scott McGleish somehow managed to angle a Micthell Cole cross high and wide of Ward’s goal.

Just before the hour mark Rovers got a third goal. Mullin fed Davies who, from the left, put a cross into the box, aimed for Taylor. However, under pressure from the big man, Town defender Breet Johnson handled and referee G Sutton had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick.

Despite Chris Shuker’s efforts, John Mullin took responsability to take the kick as regular Penalty taker Chris Greenacre was not playing. The former Rotherham man dispatched the shot with ease, sending Bunn the wrong way with the ball nestling in the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Around fifteen minutes later Northampton gained what proved to only be consolation goal. McGleish reacted quickest to a long pass, getting behind the Rovers defence and releasing a low shot that beat Ward and went in off the post.

Despite a few hairy moments like free-kicks and goal-mouth scrambles, Rovers held on for the win as the Referee blew the final whistle. This instigated a large cheer from the away end.

It was a fine display from an under-strength Rovers side. In all fairness, Town had a few lads out too, but Rovers had to respond to player losses in the game. The youngsters who came on did well and put in some solid performances that should stand them in good stead with hope of getting more football this season with the Whites.

Now with Forest only drawing and Rovers equalling goal-difference between the sides, next week’s top of the table fixture between the two teams at Prenton Park looks like a cracker. There’s only one point between the two clubs now, so if Rovers win, they go top. What an incentive, I can’t wait!