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Match Reports

Match Report: Tranmere 1-1 Southend

18 October 2019

Paul Mullin’s late penalty for Tranmere meant the spoils were shared at Prenton Park as Southend drew 1-1 against Tranmere Rovers.

Tom Hopper marked his first start since a career-threatening knee injury with a well-taken goal, getting on the end of Simon Cox’s long ball forward to dink past the advancing Scott Davies.

Southend had to withstand plenty of pressure from the home side but Blues looked the most likely to score again, moving forward dangerously, especially on the counter-attack.

The visitors had chances for a second either side of the break but they couldn’t quite give themselves daylight before conceding a penalty in the final throws of the game.

Paul Mullin was brought down by Nathan Ralph at the far-post as the referee pointed to the spot before Mullin dusted himself off to grab Tranmere a share of the points.

Blues will be disappointed not to have held on for what would have been a vital win, but a point on the road is something at least to build on going into two home games next week against Doncaster Rovers and Ipswich Town.

Following a third straight league defeat last weekend, Caretaker boss Gary Waddock made four changes to his Southend side to take on Tranmere under the Friday night lights in the Wirral.

Mark Milligan returned to fill it at centre back along with Nathan Bishop who replaced the absent Mark Oxley, with Isaac Hutchinson and Tom Hopper rounding off the new faces.

Miserable weather and difficult traffic conditions meant Blues fans just scraped into Prenton Park before kick-off but they were rewarded for their dedication with an early Southend goal.

A long ball forward from Simon Cox found the run of Hopper who, one on one with George Ray, outpaced the centre-half before calmly dinking the ball past Scott Davies inside 10 minutes.

Having gone behind, the home side responded well by putting pressure on Blues’ patched-up back-four, winning a series of corners, but they all came to no avail as Southend held firm.  

And Blues arguably should have doubled their advantage before the half-hour mark after Stephen McLaughlin’s corner found its way to Timothee Dieng, but his free header went narrowly wide.

Wet conditions underfoot meant there were plenty of tackles flying in and it clearly made the ball difficult to handle as Rovers goalkeeper Davies dropped a simple catch to gift Blues a huge chance.

His slip-up allowed Cox to pick up the loose ball and as Davies backpedalled the Southend striker tried lobbing the Tranmere skipper but his effort sailed just over the crossbar.

Tranmere had a couple of big opportunities go begging late in the half as both David Perkins and Corey Blackett-Taylor had good chances but both failed to trouble Nathan Bishop in goal.

A second goal for Southend would have settled some nerves in the second-half and they went mightily close to scoring within a minute of the restart through McLaughlin.

Hutchinson’s cross towards the far post picked out the Irishman, but with the ball coming in at an awkward angle the winger couldn’t get enough on his effort to get the ball beyond Davies.

Southend continued to push for a second and a superb tackle by Nathan Ralph allowed Blues to spring a counter-attack on Tranmere as Cox teed up Hutchinson only for Davies to make the save.

Micky Mellon’s side were then almost gifted an equaliser when Bishop’s goal kick was fired straight at Stefan Payne with the ball fortuitously, for Blues, ricocheting over the crossbar.

Tranmere then went even closer to an equaliser as a Kieron Morris corner caused havoc inside the penalty box, with the ball pinballing around before Bishop sprung to his right to clear off the line.

But for all of Tranmere’s pressure, Southend had the better chances up the other end and Cox managed to create a little bit of space inside the box to force a low save out of Davies.

From the resulting corner, a desperation header stopped Joe Shaughnessy getting a chance on goal before Blues recycled the loose ball only for Cox head wide.

Southend were looking good for all three points as Tranmere failed to show any cutting edge in attack, but with a little less than 10 minutes remaining they were given a golden chance from the penalty spot.

Substitute Paul Mullin was dragged down inside the box by Ralph with the referee awarding the home side a penalty which Mullin himself converted, smashing it down the middle to level.

The equaliser lit a flame under Tranmere who pushed for an unlikely winner but Southend remained firm to claim the point, which was the least that they deserved on the night.   

Tranmere Rovers XI: Davies (C), Ridehalgh, Ray, Monthe, Morris, Caprice, Perkins, Hepburn-Murphy (Jennings 65’), Blackett-Taylor (Mullin 71’), Danns, Payne. Subs Not Used: Pilling, Nelson, Ponticelli, Wilson, Borthwick-Jackson

Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono (Demetriou 90+3’), Ralph, Milligan (C), Dieng, Hopper (Humphrys 62’), Cox, McLaughlin, Hamilton, Shaughnessy, Hutchinson (Acquah 90’). Subs Not Used: Goodship, Kiernan, Lennon.

Referee: David Webb

Assistants: Robert Merchant & Mark Jones

Fourth Official: Lewis Smith

Scorers:

Tranmere Rovers: Paul Mullin (p) 85’

Southend United: Tom Hopper 9’

Yellow Cards:

Tranmere Rovers: Manny Monthe 68’

Southend Unite: Stephen McLaughlin 64’, Joe Shaughnessy 81’, Timothee Dieng 90+4’

Attendance: 7,066 (290 Away Fans)


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