Groundhopping

Ticking the biggest club in Merseyside…. Tranmere Rovers v Northampton Town

Hello!

Welcome back to another groundhopping blog, where this week I am joining you from Liverpool!

I am here (mainly for groundhopping purposes) but also because I wanted to see a city that has deep rooted links to football throughout the city, my dream!

Anyway, I have always wanted to tick Tranmere, I’m not particularly sure why, maybe it’s because I had a good Football Manager career with them once, or maybe because I like their kit?

Everton and Liverpool are clearly the two obvious football league clubs on Merseyside, while to a southerner it seems like Tranmere are almost forgotten, maybe this is what makes them an interesting club…

We came up on Friday, and it genuinely took us eight hours to get here, yes EIGHT. But we finally made it in time for me to watch Arsenal romp past Villa before getting a good kip in ready for my 92nd tick on Saturday afternoon.

Being in a new city, finding out the best way to get to Prenton Park took a fair amount of Googling, and we eventually decided the best way would be to get the Metro from Liverpool Lime Street to Rock Ferry, great name for a station!

Our start point!

It was actually a very easy train ride, and we had no trouble finding the ground, mainly because everyone was walking in the same direction, but it all was going swimmingly, suspicious considering our travel issues the previous day…

We took our seats and were ready for what actually looked to be one of the best, most competitive games in League Two on Saturday afternoon.

Tranmere sat in the playoff spots one place above their visitors today, but Northampton would be buoyant, knowing a win could elevate them into an automatic promotion spot, so it was all to play for.

To be honest, we were slightly worried we may have travelled eight hours for a 0-0, considering both sides boasted the two meanest defences in the league, Tranmere had only conceded six league goals this term, with Northampton had conceded 11, it’s safe to say we were practically praying for goals.

The scene set at Prenton Park

The first half started, and the first whistle was greeted with a nice short burst of rain, the football gods clearly read my blog from the other week about rain improving football games!

I honestly don’t think I’ve seen such an even half of football as was witnessed in the first 45 of this game. Much of the play took place in the middle of the park, and clear cut chances for either side were few and far between.

The only player who looked like he may be able to spark the game into life was Tranmere’s Liam Feeney. The EFL journeyman had the beating of his right back, and delivered a few threatening crosses that narrowly missed their target, but he looked dangerous.

Attritional is the word I would use to sum up the first 45, but to be honest it was still a pretty engrossing watch, and you could see how both sides might be able to get on the scoresheet, but alas, no one managed in the first half….

Half time gave me just enough time to scran a Croissant (not your traditional footy grub but hey ho), and this lovey bit of pastry was a sign of good things to come.

If the first half was evenly contested, the second half was anything but as the visitors really took the game by the scruff of the neck.

It took Northampton just seven second half minutes to break the deadlock, and it was probably with their third clear cut chance of the half. Mitch Pinnock’s low cross from the left found Tottenham loanee Kion Etete in the box, and the striker produced a wonderful low finish to hand his side the initiative.

Northampton were not settling for just one goal though, as their pressing really began to disrupt Tranmere’s rhythm, which they had found after eight games unbeaten.

The Cobblers were relentless is the second 45 and 15 minutes after striking first, they doubled their lead. Paul Lewis was brought down in the box, giving the referee one of the easiest decisions of his afternoon, and the impressive Sam Hoskins stepped up to put breathing space between his side and Tranmere, who seemed bereft of ideas going forward.

Seconds before the second goal!

It seriously could have been three or four, had Northampton not wasted a number of second half chances, but the home side were never going to punish their lack of ruthlessness.

At 2-0 there was always hope that Tranmere could pull the game back, but in reality they lacked any cutting edge or finishing ability to turn this hope into anything more. Northampton also defended really well, clearly neutralising the home sides’ main threat which came down either side, and it simply left the home fans and players frustrated.

The full time whistle blew, meaning Northampton couldn’t add to their 19 shots on goal in the match, but they were clearly delighted to be travelling back with all three points, which moved them into the automatic promotion spots.

No doubts about today’s winners!

Tranmere put up a really good fight in the first half, and were probably the better side, but they could not translate this into end product, or a second half performance that matched. I’m sure they will be looking to get back to winning ways soon though and continue to hunt promotion.

I was really impressed with the game, and it was probably the best League Two game I’ve ever seen, both sides actually looked to play out from the back and press high, which always makes for interesting viewing, rather than an 11v11 tennis game!

Prenton Park also actually had a lovely atmosphere about it, friendly, but also passionate, which is exactly what you want to see in the fourth tier. I throughly enjoyed my experience here, not sure I’d drive eight hours for it regularly though….

That’s all for today’s blog! Thanks for reading and I will catch up with you very, very soon….

  • GROUND: Prenton Park
  • GAME: Tranmere Rovers 0-2 Northampton Town
  • COMPETITION: League Two
  • GROUND NUMBER: 92
  • WOULD I GO BACK: Yes
  • TICKET PRICE: £20
  • DAYS SINCE LAST 0-0: 977
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