Tranmere’s poor league form continued as they were edged out by Lincoln City at Sincil Bank this afternoon.
The match was, as they are often, overshadowed by weak officiating, and Carl Boyeson was once again frankly appalling. If the name rings a bell, our 5-0 defeat at Sunderland this season and last season’s 3-2 reverse at Crewe were both officiated by Boyeson.
Things started well enough for Rovers. With debutant goalkeeper Aaron Chapman starting between the sticks (he joined from Peterborough this morning), Tranmere went with one upfront in Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
Morgan Ferrier missed out due to a family bereavement, while there was also no Kane Wilson.
Tranmere dominated the early exchanges as the home side were made to defend. Blackett-Taylor a constant threat down the left with Hepburn-Murphy also lively. The latter forced Bostwick into a wild lunge which resulted in an early yellow for him, while John Akinde somehow got away with no booking despite repeatedly fouling the Tranmere defenders.
Lincoln have been a route one team since the Cowley brothers started their incredible journey with the club, but with Michael Appleton now in charge, they are trying to play the same way but seemingly without much tactical nouse to back it up. Akinde played as the lone forward, fouling his way through the half while posing no threat.
Typically, Tranmere’s discipline would cost them again, and not for the first time, it was Blackett-Taylor. He was booked for a bit of a nothing foul just inside the Rovers half, but minutes later he was given a second booking for supposedly blocking a quick free kick. It was pathetic refereeing, the man in the middle desperate to make it about him.
Boyeson also bottled a foul on Hepburn-Murphy on the edge of the box as a late, high, tackle left him in agony on the turf. He did though finally book Akinde having allowed the striker to give maybe 7 or 8 fouls away first.
In sending Blackett-Taylor off, he had also become the host’s best player and been the first one to give Lincoln some impetus.
The second half saw Rovers go with two banks of four and Hepburn-Murphy on his own up top. Lincoln dominated possession but still lacked any real quality or threat. Rovers’ attacking threat had diminished significantly.
The young Villa loanee Hepburn-Muprhy should have had a penalty when he was pushed from behind in the box, obviously nothing was doing. And then, well the script was written wasn’t it.
A ball into the Tranmere box wasn’t defended, and Akinde turned and seemed to mishit the ball high and powerfully only for it to cannon off the crossbar. Typically, it looked to bounce over the line and out again. The linesman couldn’t signal goal fast enough. 1-0 Lincoln.
Rovers had plenty of late set pieces to try and equalise, one bringing a blatant push in the face on Danns as he went to head the ball which of course the ref missed. The best opportunity fell to Monthe whose shot on the turn was deflected wide from close range.
As well as Tranmere played in spells, and as much as we can say officiating, opposition, pitch and whatever else was poor, we have to look at ourselves. We’re simply not winning enough games.
We’re abysmal on set pieces, both attacking and defensively. Monthe is one of the biggest players in the division, yet he barely ever wins anything in opposition boxes. Nelson hasn’t even got close to scoring off a set piece either that we can remember. Neither are aggressive enough when attacking balls in to the box and must improve. The delivery isn’t great either, and a cutting edge in open play is sadly lacking.
However, looking at the positives, it feels like we may only be 2 or 3 players away from a solid midtable team.
Next week’s clash with Wimbledon is now huge.