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Archived News from October 2002

11th October 2002 9:10

... and reports from two Tranmere sites
By Iain Sharp, roversrearguard.com
I honestly thought that we might be in with a chance today at Field Mill and Rovers, in their pristine, crisp white shirts certainly started the game as the better side.
The support from the travelling SWA was excellent, even down the impromptu knock about with a couple of match balls in the Rovers end before the game. According to the announcer, there was over 500 travelling Tranmere fans in an attendance of just over three and a half thousand. There was plenty of noisy support for the team throughout the first half and as for the Mansfield fans, you hardly knew they were there ....
There was sustained pressure during the opening quarter and Rovers did deserve the goal. It was a goalmouth scramble, with Alex Hay's shot nutmegging the Mansfield defender on the line. Most of the Rovers forward line looked dangerous and it could have and indeed should have been more. There was a shot near half time that was virtually cleared off the line.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Mansfield were showing all the typical resolve of a team at the bottom of the league. Stay passes, attacks breaking down and there looked to be the typical gulf in class between a side that was recently in the 1st Division compared to one that had spent long periods in the 3rd.
God knows what must have been said to either side at half time, but to the untrained observer, you'd have thought that both teams had swapped shirts .....
There was hardly time to put down the programme and finish off the dregs of Bovril before Mansfield were level, with a strike from the edge of the box that looped over Whitehead.
The Rovers defence (a loose term, given the 2nd half performance) disappeared faster than Dr Who's TARDIS. By the time the 2nd goal had gone in, the Mansfield fans (who had obviously sneaked in at half time) were now going barmy. Remember it had been over 400 minutes since they'd had a goal at home.
The rest of the half there was a steady procession of scores from the home side and there was increasing anger from the Rovers following. Indeed, there were several ejections as tempers boiled over (perhaps in that situation, would a 'suitable' punishment be to force the person to watch the rest of the game ?). There was even one scarf thrown on to the pitch.
After the third goal had gone in Haworth was dismissed, for what the BBC website describes as 'lashing out' and Rovers dissolved faster than a salted slug.
Fans were walking out at 3-1 down and at 6-1 down, Mansfield were even awarded with a penalty that they then had the cheek to miss by screwing it wide of the upright. Chants included the perennial 'Sack The Board', 'You're not fit to wear the shirt' and all the time being taunted by the Mansfield fans singing 'Can we play you every week ?'.
At the end of the game and given the layout of the Field Mill ground, the players tunnel was at the corner of the main stand and the away end. The remaining players and the management team had a very uncomfortable trudge past some very angry Rovers fans. Someone mentioned to me that Mathias didn't walk off down the tunnel and scuttled off over towards the main stand. Anyone confirm this ?
Outside in the car park, the looks on some of the faces were as if someone had died. Stunned was the general reaction.
I have seen some of Rovers poorest performances over the past couple of seasons, Brentford away last year, Peterborough 5-0 and now this. I sometime think it might be me .... A regular Rovers supporting friend of mine commented at the end of the game that this was one of the worst Rovers performances he'd seen for 15 years or so. It was that bleak.
Finally, it is hard to say what the solution is. We can't really get any more players in at the moment, with the transfer window closed. Mathias can't have gone to pieces so quickly, can he ? Or is the issue higher up in the club. Today's game left a bitter taste in the mouth and will take a little while to 'get over'.
Hopefully, someone will pinch me and I'll wake up soon to find that we're in the top six of the First Division ....
Have a good week, it can't get any worse, can it ?

Mathias decries lack of pride and passion

By Barbara Jones, roversrearguard.com

In his post-match talk Ray Mathias talked predictably about a lack of passion in his side after they failed to take advantage of a one goal lead going in at half time and instead allowed bottom of the table Mansfield to find an equaliser before going on to score a humiliating six goals.
The Rovers manager said: "We had one or two players who stood up out there today and tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck but we had too many players who went missing today especially in the second half and you can't afford that." (tranmererovers.co.uk)
Mathias called the performance in the second half 'unacceptable' as time and time again Rovers allowed the Mansfield players to turn and run at goal with little resistance.
Mathias bemoaned the fact that Rovers seem to be incapable of recovering when the opposition scores against them. He added: "We can't take a goal being scored against us and once we went behind everyone seemed to lose confidence, heads went down and mistakes were made and we suffered."
Not half as much as those of us who sat in the stand watching the debacle unfold in front of us!!
With more predictability, Mathias threatened that there would be changes for the next match and that if that meant using more of the young players then he would do so
"I've said before that there are youngsters on the sidelines ready to come in and if people aren't proud to play for Tranmere Rovers then those kids will come in and be proud to wear the shirt."
The manager was pleased as anyone that Alex Hay got his first goal. The young lad was probably the only player to come out of the match with any credit. Mathias revealed that Simon Haworth who was sent off for violent misconduct was as 'sick as anything' which is all fine and well, but no way to behave when you are a professional and your team mates are counting on you, not to mention the fans who turn up day in day out and help to pay your wages.
All in all it was a very grim day for Rovers and their fans. Is it a case of lack of passion and pride, or are they just not very good?

You'd have thought Rovers were playing Premiership opposition again as they were thumped 6-1 by bottom of the table Mansfield Town but surely things can't get any worse!!
4 – Mickey Mellon volleyed wide after just four minutes, when the Stags defence half cleared a long throw from Ryan Taylor.
12 –GOAL – Rovers
Alex Hay scored his first goal for Rovers when he was stabbed the ball beyond Van Heusden in the Mansfield goal.
Mickey Mellon curled in a corner from the right that was flicked on at the near post by Haworth and Hay was on hand to knock the loose ball home, much to the delight of the self confessed Rovers fan.
15 – Allen booked for a foul on Christie.
15- Hay could have doubled the lead when he was again on the end of a flick on by Haworth, but this time his shot was blocked.
28 – Allen was forced to head clear after a good cross by Christie caused confusion in the Rovers box.
29 – Simon Haworth was unlucky when he headed inches wide after a good ball in from Nicholson on the left.
32 – Mickey Mellon made the wrong decision by opting to go for goal, instead of passing out wide for Alex Hay who was brimming with confidence following his first senior goal.
41 – Andy Parkinson went close to netting his first of the season, when this time he was on the end of a flick on by Haworth but Van Heusden did well to palm the ball clear.
Hay was unlucky on the stroke of half not to give Rovers the cushion they deserved when he glanced a header just wide from a right wing cross by Ryan Taylor.
Half Time – Mansfield Town 0-1 Tranmere Rovers
It was 1-1 just a minute after the restart when Neil MacKenzie rifled home from 22 yards out. The Rovers defence had plenty of time to clear the ball but Edwards was found wanting and MacKenzie didn't need to be asked twice as he let fly with shot that gave Whitehead no chance.
It was MacKenzie's first goal for the club, since his move from Blackpool in the summer.
Rovers were behind six minutes later, when once again slack defending let in Scott Sellars at the far post to slot home, despite the efforts of Ryan Taylor on the line.
Christie managed to get a cross in from the right that left Whitehead stranded and Sellars got the better of Allen to fire Mansfield ahead.
59 – Mansfield were unlucky not to be 3-1 up when a defensive error by Christian Edwards let in Colin Larkin, the youngster hit a vicious shot that thankfully flew just over the bar.
Liam Lawrence made it three after he was put through by Christie, Christian Edwards made a last ditch attempt to stop the goal but all he could do was end up in the back of the net with the ball.
63 – Phil Whitehead made a good stop to spare Rovers blushes when he blocked a long range effort from MacKenzie and put it out for a corner.
64 – Scott Sellars was replaced by Cordan
65 – Andy Parkinson was replaced by James Olsen
66 – Rovers were reduced to 10 men when Simon Haworth was red carded far a late and dangerours challenge on Craig Disley.
Things went from bad to worse for Rovers when once again the defence capitulated and let in Christie who made no mistake slotting the ball past Whitehead.
72 – James Olsen almost netted his first goal for the club, when he had a header tipped over following a right wing corner.
Mellon played the ball in from the right and Olsen controlled his header well at the far post but Van Heusden did well to tip it over.
74 – GOAL for MANSFIELD 5-1
Colin Larkin made it five as Rovers followed Wednesday's pitiful performance with another that left a lot to be desired.
78 – GOAL for MANSFIELD 6-1
Mansfield managed the same scoreline as Southampton when Christie netted his second of the match after yet another scramble in the box as Rovers once again crumbled under pressure.
82 – Edwards conceded a penalty with a foul on Christie but thankfully for the Welshman Christie fired wide from the spot.
Posted by Martin Shaw


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