Tranmere came from behind to win 3-1 at Cheltenham yesterday in a game that saw the club’s latest two signings handed debuts.
Both players went straight in to Micky Mellon’s starting line-up at Whaddon Road – or the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, to use its official name – and despite the team looking rusty during the first half, everything came together for an exceptional second half display.
Here’s what we made of the debutants.
However, at 36 years of age, some fans were concerned that his best days were behind him. And let’s be honest, unless your name is Ian Goodison, if you’re a 36-year-old footballer than you are passed what is considered to be your peak.
Perkins went straight in to a three-man midfield with Ollie Banks and Luke McCullough yesterday and he certainly put one concern to bed instantly; he’s as fit as anyone in that squad. Perkins worked tirelessly throughout the game to close down and pressurise Cheltenham players. Another thing that was very clear throughout is that he is not afraid to pass on instructions to those around him.
He was often seen organising and instructing the defence, fellow midfielders and forwards in different situations. That’s probably something Tranmere have missed at times this season in midfield.
On the ball, his passing was a little off in the opening half hour or so, but he hasn’t played much football for Rochdale this season, so there are going to be some cobwebs to get rid of. Like the rest of the team, he improved in the second half and was very safe in possession. He looks like a solid signing and a shrewd bit of business by Mellon. His experience will be invaluable.
Football fans do love to analyse and pull apart just about everything that happens at their football club, and signings are probably the most analysed by supporters. The arrival of Ishmael Miller may not have set pulses racing last week, but the big forward was off the mark pretty swiftly for his new team on Saturday.
The first thing to note with Miller is that many managers have considered him to have significant ability during his career. Still only 31, Tranmere is his eleventh club and he has had in excess of £2million in transfer fees spent on him. From a bright start at Man City and a role as goal-scoring hero for WBA in a promotion-winning season through to the slightly more barren spells at recent clubs – he’s been around the block alright.
Oldham fans were quick to criticise Miller and were glad to see the back of him, but then again they had that opinion of Ollie Banks who was apparently also poor at Boundary Park, so that probably speaks volumes about their club and/or opinions of players more than the players themselves.
Miller started alongside James Norwood upfront yesterday and looked to provide the physical threat that Rovers have been unable to find since Andy Cook joined Walsall last summer. He had two chances in the first half which he turned in to good efforts, but perhaps could have done better.
He did of course get his debut goal as well, a nice poacher’s finish after he followed in a saved Norwood effort. But what of his all-round play?
Well, he’s one of those players who is not always easy on the eye but think of how difficult he must be to play against. He’s quite a physical specimen, standing at 6ft 3in tall and with a strong-looking physique. He did his fair share of battling with Cheltenham defenders yesterday and while he looks a bit awkward in possession, that unpredictability may actually be a good thing. If nothing else, he offers something completely different to what we currently have.
He put himself about, linked up well with Nors a few times and really did as much as anyone could expect from a player on his debut. He certainly seemed to enjoy his goal too and was given a standing ovation by the SWA when he was withdrawn late in the second half.
Time will tell how both players do over the remainder of the season, but it’s a promising start to life at Tranmere for both.