Dagenham 0-1 Tranmere: Report

“Kids,” says Homer in a famous episode of the Simpsons where he changes his name to Max Power. “From now on there are three ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way.”

Those words may as well be the mantra of a Tranmere fan though, after the midfielder’s stunning strike against Dagenham lifted them out of the relegation zone for the first time in two months.

Power has netted a catalogue of screamers in recent weeks, form which has seen him linked with Scottish giants Celtic.

But this one must surely top the lot as he leathered home to bag Rovers a precious 1-0 away win.

This was no smash and grab though.

Tranmere looked every inch a team that could be battling at the other end of the table, rather than struggling against relegation.

In a sedate first half, they defended resolutely whilst rarely threatening at the other end.

But they kicked on after the break, creating numerous chances before Power struck, whilst the goal itself could have opened the floodgates.

At the other end, the back three of Michael Ihiekwe, Marcus Holness and Janoi Donacien made strikers Jamie Cureton and Patrick Agyemang, who have over 300 league goals between them, look toothless.

Indeed, this was a far cry from the performances that have seen Rovers fail to pick up an away league since August and slip into trouble in League Two.

Of course, they are not out of the woods yet, but this was the kind of display that should have everyone looking up the table rather than over their shoulders.

Micky Adams made two changes from Tuesday’s cup defeat to Walsall, with Shamir Fenelon and Marc Laird replacing Cole Stockton and James Rowe.

Neither made much impact on an untidy opening 45 minutes where an ineffective long hoof forward was more common than a flowing passing move.

There were chances though – the best of them falling Power who dragged a shot across goal and wide of the far post after being teed up by Laird.

The midfielder tried his luck from 35-yards later on, stabbing towards goal only for Mark Cousins to save, whilst the ‘keeper was also on hand to catch Danny Holmes’ left-footed strike later on.

Owain Fon Williams meanwhile cast a lonely, shivering figure in the Rovers goal, only called upon to deal with a handful of crosses.

However, the Welsh stopper really should have been tested by Cureton midway through the period when the usually clinical striker pulled a bobbling shot wide after being found in space in the box by Damian Batt.

It was a similar story after the break when the former Norwich striker looped a header over the bar when he should have done better.

That was a rare adventure that the hosts were allowed in the Tranmere half.

Rovers were the more regular aggressors as they searched for the three points that would halve the gap between themselves and Wayne Burnett’s side.

But perhaps if you were being ultra critical, the lack of chances that the pressure and possession led to may be a concern, with only Holmes and Kayode Odejayi forcing saves.

In fact, the link up play between Odejayi and Fenelon was poor, although each worked hard and put in decent individual performances.

But the game seemed to open up remarkably once Stockton replaced Fenelon with eighteen minutes left.

It was the hard working Odejayi who created the goal though, through some brilliant link up play with Max Power.

The striker collected a long ball with his back to goal and played an inch perfect pass into the right hand channel for Power to run on to.

From then on, there was only one thing on the midfielder’s mind, and when 25-yards out he struck a thunderous, unstoppable shot that flew past Cousins and left the net bulging.

It was another collector’s item strike from the homegrown hero, who celebrated his 100th appearance for Tranmere in style.

And he was unlucky not to add a second moments later with another missile that whistled just wide of the top corner.

Dagenham heads had now dropped and all Tranmere had to do was see the game out.

But they eagerly pushed forward in search of a second. Holmes saw another powerful drive clawed away and Stockton had an effort blocked.

At the other end, Fon Williams was finally called into action to comfortably save from Ayo Obileye who tamely shot goalwards from 22-yards.

That was as close as Dagenham got, with Tranmere clinching three points that lifted them above Carlisle and out of the relegation zone.

They have now lost just two of twelve and picked up back-to-back league wins for the first time this season – things are certainly looking up for Micky Adams and his players.

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