It’s likely that at some point in your life, someone has told you that ‘if you’re going to do something, do it properly’. Tranmere once again proved on Wednesday night that when it comes to pressing self-destruct, they do it better than anyone.
There was a positive atmosphere of optimism in Prenton Park prior to kick-off against Peterborough in the FA Cup First Round replay, and after a bright opening, it looked like being a tight FA Cup tie in which Tranmere would have a real chance of progressing.
Talk was of the potential of a “massive” upset, and while a Tranmere win would have surprised a lot of people, in reality Rovers were playing a smaller club from two divisions higher that were in an indifferent run of form.
However, just when the match was looking promising, Rovers managed to find that huge self-destruct button that has plagued us at key times in recent years.
Tranmere gifted Posh their opening goal, Scott Davies playing the ball to McEveley who was, in fairness, being rapidly closed down before he received the ball. An experienced defender like McEveley should know how to deal with it, but instead opted to lace the ball back in the vague direction of where it had come from.
Davies raced out to try and retrieve the situation and missed the ball, allowing Danny Lloyd to tap the ball home. The pint-sized scouser would go on to get a hat-trick, and celebrated wildly in front of the home fans.
The goal was the cue for an almighty collapse that handed the tie to the League One outfit. A woefully defended corner allowed Lloyd to convert from close-range and double the lead.
A promising night was well and truly heading for diastser shortly after. Jay Harris was cleared for take-off and lunged across the pitch feet first, never troubling the ball but instead taking out a Peterborough player mid-flight. Red card.
It remained 0-2 at half-time, and Rovers came out in the second half and had a solid 15-20 minutes in which they were the better team. Sadly, they couldn’t get a goal back.
In one of their first attacks of the second half, Posh won a free-kick which was floated in to the Rovers box where only one played decided to pay attention to it. Sadly, it was a Peterborough defender, and he had a free and simple header for 0-3.
The game went downhill once again, Scott Davies fumbling a free-kick in to the path of Lloyd to complete his hat-trick of tap-ins that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a junior game. Once again he celebrated madly with the hoardes of Peterborough fans, their minibus warming up outside ready for the trip home.
Minutes later, Davies’ grim night continued. Buxton and McNulty marked each other out of a long diagonal ball leaving the Peterborough forward to race in to the box unopposed, The Tranmere keeper stormed out and took the striker down. Stonewall penalty, 0-5.
If that’s the modern-day magic of the FA Cup, you can keep it. The most frustrating thing is that Rovers gifted the opposition easy passage to the next round, and simply didn’t test them nor establish whether they’re any good.
Hopefully, football will re-align itself in the coming years and we will soon be back playing – and passing – Peterborough in League One.
On the topic of self-destruction, not only did Tranmere eliminate themselves from the FA Cup, but Harris red card and the yellow received by Connor Jennings means they both miss the weekend’s trip to sunny Gateshead. Ollie Norburn also came off with a knock, and Jeff Hughes is still out injured. Quite who will line-up in midfield is anyone’s guess.