Tranmere Rovers went into this afternoon’s FA Cup tie against Manchester United knowing they would be seriously up against it, and so it proved as The Red Devils ran out 6-0 winners at Prenton Park.
Rovers began the game brightly, but three goals in the space of six first half minutes meant it was effectively game over with another 74 left on the clock.
Of course, you can break down the goals conceded and say they could have been defended better, but United showed their class and were just far too good for a hardworking Tranmere side who gave it their all.
For the Super White Army, who sang their hearts out throughout – especially during the second half, it would have been nice to get a goal. There were opportunities, albeit half chances, but it wasn’t to be.
Connor Jennings had an early effort saved while Morgan Ferrier and Corey Blackett-Taylor caused the United defence one or two problems throughout.
Second half substitute Rushian Hepburn-Murphy fired just off target shortly before the end when the Premier League giants had taken their foot off the gas somewhat.
So a heavy defeat, but plenty of positives for Micky Mellon and his players to take forward, and do that they must with some huge games coming up, this week alone.
To get as far as they did, in the manner in which they did, during this FA Cup run shows the spirit and indeed quality this team possesses.
To come back from a goal down with 10 men to beat then League One leaders Wycombe in round 1, to go one better and come back from 3-0 down at Premier League Watford and win a replay, those traits will be needed in the remainder of the season if Rovers are to survive in League One for another campaign.
The cup run has, once again, shown that Rovers are back. We’d spent three years in the wilderness, but ties against Spurs last season and United this term show the wider football public that we’re on our way back.
Maybe not to the extent that we were in the 90s and early 00s, but we’re getting talked about again and the club is well and truly back on the map.
And it has also made us a few quid. Big crowds at Prenton Park, TV revenue from two televised ties, and of course the prize money from reaching the fourth round will be a bonus to the chairman.
That money will hopefully help the club grow and improve, be it used on a player or two to strengthen the squad in this transfer window, on infrastructure around the stadium or training ground or to help with the problems with the pitch, or a combination of them all, it will be really useful.
League One survival must be the main objective now, and the players must take great confidence from their FA Cup performances and build on those in the remaining games.
We have a huge week coming up with a home game against Sunderland on Wednesday night before a massive away trip to Bolton on Saturday.
The crowd were fantastic this afternoon, and it would be nice to see as many of those return for the league game in midweek, a fixture which is arguably bigger than today’s.