Tranmere Rovers VS Oldham Athletic: 1 – 2
Venue: Prenton Park Attendance: 7,270
Date: 07/08/2010 Referee: Graham Salisbury, Ass refs: Simon Clayton, Darren Handley. 4th Off: Peter Bankes
Rovers suffer loss on opening day!
Two Dale Stephens goals were enough to give the Latics all 3 points at Prenton Park despite a Thomas-Moore goal adding late tension for Oldham’s back four.
As Les Parry’s men lined up to start the new season there were 4 new faces in the starting 11, Enoch Showunmi, Liam Darville, Nick Wood and Gunnar Nielsen all making league debuts.
Oldham’s travelling supporters were in full voice as they packed into the cowshed end at Prenton Park.
Tranmere kicked off the new campaign shooting from right to left towards Oldham’s famous number 40 (fans).
The game started brightly with chances at both ends, Allessandra with the first for the visitors, a venomous strike from outside the box testing Nielsen after just 8 minutes of his rover’s debut forcing him to make a fine save.
It took just a couple of minutes for Allessandra to unleash a second strike this time hitting over the bar. It was a bright start by the youngster who was looking to inflict damage at Prenton Park for the second season running.
At the other end Showunmi was leading the line for rovers and proving to be a handful, he was winning everything in the air and on 14 minutes came close to opening the scoring latching on to a Aaron Creswell cross heading just wide.
On 16 minutes Oldham’s new number 7 Jones who started out wide on the right flank whipped in a convincing ball but Allessandra who could have had a hat-trick in the first 20 minutes failed to convert past Nielsen.
Tranmere kept playing the route one ball up to Showunmi, he was winning every ball but was lacking support and rovers were struggling to break Oldham down.
The Latics who looked the more comfortable of the two were passing it round well, Stephens and Jones at the heart of it, feeding it through to new signing Tounkare who for most of the game had been cancelled out by fan favourite Ian Goodison. He had started the day with his no messing policy, clearing everything in his way with nothing getting past him.
The deadlock was finally broken on the 26 minute after a strong challenge from Labadie, bringing down Jarrett on the edge of the box resulted in a Dale Stephan’s free kick puncturing through the Tranmere wall leaving Nielsen no chance, giving the visitors the lead.
Both sides continued to press, Thomas-Moore coming closest for the hosts, turning the defence but failed to take advantage.
Nearing the end of the half the Latics could have found themselves 2 up after a rare Ian Goodison mistake let in Tounkare who scuffed his shot, with rover’s number 1 collecting comfortably.
In the second half it was the visitors who started the better of the two, taking Stephens just 30 seconds to strike the ball goal bound seeing his effort fly over the bar. Six minutes later and very good link up play between debutantes Tounkare and Jones opened up a chance for Allessandra, who fired the ball straight at Nielsen.
The introduction of Ryan Fraughan just after the hour mark looked to inject something different for rovers replacing Paul Maclaren.
On the 63 minute Joss Labadie was a whisker away from equalising for the home side, meeting another dangerous Aaron Cresswell cross heading just wide.
With just 20 minutes remaining a miss kick from Ian Goodison could have been costly allowing Allessandra a free effort on goal yet again calling Gunnar Nielsen into action.
Rovers kept pushing for that goal as Oldham were failing to put the game out of sight and it very nearly came on the 78th minute, a looping ball into the box from a Fraughan free kick was met by rovers captain Thomas-Moore who’s effort called upon Dean Brill to make the save at his near post.
As the last 10 minutes closed in you could sense the frustration around the ground and on the pitch, it was heating up and former rovers man Reuben Hazel didn’t help matters lunging in on new signing Joss Labadie earning himself a place in the referees book.
The game was wide open and there was belief the goal was on its way from the Prenton park faithful, but with 7 minutes to go a well worked move from the latics, with Allessandra and Feeney involved ended with Stephens thumping it from 20 yards delivering the killer blow doubling the visitors lead on the 83rd minute, ending any hope of a Tranmere revival.
The game looked out of sight and two minutes later it should have been, Allessandra crossing met by Richie Jones at the back post who failed to add a third.
Rovers who kept pushing finally got off the mark on the 88th minute, Ryan Fraughan delivering the corner, Goodison winning in the air playing it back across the box which was met by last seasons top scorer Thomas-Moore with his looping header beating Brill pulling one back for the hosts.
Tensions and nerves were running high as rovers pressed to stage a late come back, on the 90th minute the game was interrupted from a scuffle which involved, Labadie, Stephens and Jarrett all receiving a booking.
As Rovers had there last throw of the dice they had a late penalty appeal turned down when Labadie went to ground deep into injury time.
Rovers: Nielsen, Cresswell, Goodison, Maclaren(Fraughan 61), showunmi, Welsh, Thomas-Moore, Gornell, Wood, Darville, Labadie. Subs not used, Collister, Benson, Bakayogo, Blanchard, Power, Mackrath
Oldham: Brill, Hazell, Jones, Jarrett, Furman, Allessandra ,Feeney, Lee, Stephens, Black, Tounkare(Kelly 84). Subs not used, Mvoto, Ollerenshaw, Holdsworth, Millar, Bembo-leta, McGrath
Yellow cards; (Hazell 79th, Stephens 91st , Jarrett 91st, Labadie 91st )
Man of the match: Dale Stephens