Tranmere 0-3 Oxford: Report

Tranmere need a miracle to save their Football League status as a 3-0 defeat to Oxford evaporated most of the remaining hope that they would stay up.

After a dismal run of form had seen them slip to the bottom of the table, this was a game very much labeled “Must Not Lose”.

But after a bright start, Rovers fans’ had to endure a crumbling display that did little but anger those who made the journey to Prenton Park.

Micky Adams made two changes from the side that lost at Mansfield on Tuesday, with Iain Hume and Kayode Odejayi returning to the starting line up.

Hume has struggled to make an impact since returning to Prenton Park in January, with his fitness regularly questioned.

But after getting over a virus, he was thrown in from the off for the first time since February.

Tranmere started on the front foot as Max Power curled into the arms of Jamie Ashdown in the opening minute.

George Green then saw a free-kick from 25-yards comfortably saved before an alert Hume gave Rovers their best chance yet.

The ball went out for a throw and he took it quickly, releasing Jennison Myrie-Williams as the Oxford defence failed to react.

However, after running into the box, the winger at no point looked comfortable on his left-foot and dragged his shot wide across goal.

At the other end, Oxford rarely threatened in the opening exchanges, with just a solitary header wide from a corner to their name.

Rob Taylor then had a go for Rovers, powerfully slapping over from 35-yards.

But you could sense the nerves growing ever more from the terraces.

And that helped Oxford grow into the game as they got closer and closer to scoring.

Chey Dunkley had one shot blocked from a quick corner, with only a defender throwing himself in front of the ball saving the day.

Then, after a set-piece at the other end went wrong for Tranmere, Kemar Roofe counter-attacked at frighteningly quick pace, carrying the ball the length of the field before shooting just wide from the edge of the box.

With five minutes left, Owain Fon Williams was called into action for the first time as he made a smart save from Alex MacDonald, diving with a firm first to his left after some intricate build up play.

And after weathering the storm, Rovers came close themselves in the dying seconds of the half as Hume and Michael Ihiekwe were involved in a goalmouth scramble but could not quite force the ball over the line.

After the break, not much changed from how the two teams had ended the first period.

Danny Hylton saw one shot deflected wide before with 51- minutes on the clock, disaster struck for Rovers.

A whipped cross from Chris Long came in from the right and it was met by Roofe who was criminally unmarked near the penalty spot.

From there, he got great direction and power on his header, thumping it past Fon Williams to hand oxford the lead.

If that was bad for Rovers, what happened two minutes later was devastating.

Oxford maneuvered some space on the left and within the blink of an eye the ball came to an unmarked Hylton inside the box.

Fon Williams closed down the danger but the ball was simply tapped to his right to Danny Rose, who prodded home into an empty net.

That sparked outrage amongst the home fans. A chorus of boos greeted the team as they headed back to the centre circle as tensions began to flair.

Even the introductions of Jason Koumas and Mard Laird from the bench was sarcastically applauded, with many fans feeling Koumas in particular has not been used enough this season.

He did not take long to show his quality either, with a free-kick from the right picked out Odejayi, who nodded just past the post.

But that was as good as it got in the second half for a Tranmere team that was shrinking in front of the crowd.

On 68-minutes, Oxford made it 3-0, with Hylton again involved.

He nodded a cross down to Roofe who, once again unmarked, volleyed into the roof of the net from an awkward angle.

That was the final straw for hundreds of fans who immediately headed for the exit.

Several stopped to vent their anger at Micky Adams on the way out, with one in particular removed by a steward to a standing ovation by some of the Kop.

Rovers had chances for a consolation goal, with Koumas involved in them all.

One free-kick was met by Laird, whose header was saved, before the midfielder somehow created some space for himself in the box and saw a drilled shot saved.

But overall this performance showed why Tranmere are propping up the Football League.


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