Tranmere Rovers continued their pre-season preparations with a narrow 2-1 defeat against Championship side Wigan Athletic at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon.
An early penalty was conceded by Manny Monthe and converted by Will Grigg for the visitors before they doubled their lead through Jamie Walker. Rovers got on the scoresheet just before the end of the game courtesy of a James Norwood header from a Ben Tollitt cross.
So, a second defeat against higher league opposition after the narrow 3-2 loss to Liverpool in midweek, but what have we learned from the latest 90 minutes of action at Prenton Park?
James Norwood looks sharp
The striker, who secured promotion back into the Football League for Rovers at Wembley at the end of last season, looked a constant threat to the Latics defence on Saturday afternoon. His pace got him in behind them on a few occasions. He hit the post with a good effort and always looked threatening. Lasted the full 90 minutes and took his goal well with a downward header past the goalkeeper from Ben Tollitt’s left wing cross.
Zoum hasn’t lost any pace
Zoumana Bakayogo has returned to Prenton Park as a trialist and he played 90 minutes at left back. It’s been five years since he left the club and he’s now 31 years of age, but he still looks as quick as he ever did despite the injuries he’s suffered in the past few years. He put in a strong performance against some tricky players in the opposition and made a couple of great last ditch tackles where his pace got the team out of any potential problems. With Liam Ridehalgh injured and suspended for the first few games of the season, a left back is required and he could be a good option.
Jonny Smith – good signing
Having joined the club on loan from Bristol City last week, and netted on his debut against Liverpool, winger Smith looks a good addition to Micky Mellon’s squad. Being left footed, he adds good balance to the side, but he is also hard-working and talented on the ball. In the Wigan game, he showed glimpses of the quality he will add to the side and he’ll get better.
Don’t mess with Steeeeeve
Of all the people to pick a fight with, Steve McNulty would not be very high on your list. So when James Vaughan decided to begin a battle with the Rovers captain, you had to wonder why! It came about after Macca won a header against the Wigan striker. He may well have caught him as he rose to clear the ball away, but he offered a hand to the Latics man who refused it. The next few minutes resulted in handbags at 10 paces between most of the 22 players on the pitch!
Kai Tonge is fast – very fast!
Another player who is currently on trial with Micky Mellon’s squad is winger Kai Tonge. While he only played for half an hour, he showed glimpses of his electric pace against Wigan. It was like a racehorse galloping down the touchline as he flew past a few defenders, leaving them in his wake. He set up a good chance and looks a player with good promise.
All in all, it was another good workout for the side. 20 players got minutes under their belt against a good Wigan side which included a certain Max Power, although he didn’t last long after picking up a little knock in the first half. There are four more friendlies to go for the first team, next up away at Warrington Town, and more opportunities for the players to build their fitness levels as they aim to get sharp to hit the ground running for that league opener against Stevenage in three weeks’ time.