Halifax 1-1 Tranmere: Report

Tranmere will head into Christmas simply praying for points for Santa as they drew 1-1 with against Halifax.

Rovers again enjoyed long spells of supremacy, but they were not ruthless enough in front of goal in the first half.

With the Wirral side four games without a win before kick off and calls for Gary Brabin to be sacked mounting, many fans saw this as a must win fixture.

But they dropped two more points at The Shay, and will head into the festive season a long way outside the play-off picture.

Rovers welcomed Jay Harris and Gary Taylor-Fletcher back into the starting line up, as they made their returns from injury.

And the latter could have given Rovers the lead in just the ninth minute as Rovers started the game brightly.

Michael Ihiekwe’s long, cross-field free-kick was met by Maynard, who nodded down to Taylor-Fletcher, but the forward saw his shot blocked by the ‘keeper.

The rebound fell to Adam Mekki though, and he too was unlucky not to find the back of the net as his follow up was cleared off the line.

Halifax, largely quiet in the opening 45 minutes, had a chance of their own as they looked for an early break through.

However Kevin Roberts should have done better with a free-header from close range that went straight at Scott Davies.

It was Tranmere who looked most likely to score, with James Norwood in particular enjoying himself as the lone striker.

The Rovers number 10 was finding plenty of space as he dropped just in front of the Halifax defence, and was able to tee up Mekki and Maynard for shots that were comfortably saved.

Norwood then had a go himself, profiting from a defender slipping, but he could only fire at the near post on his weaker left foot, with Sam Johnson beating the ball away.

Lee Vaughan came close to his first Tranmere goal shortly afterwards, hitting narrowly over the bar after a neat one-two with Taylor-Fletcher.

But then, with half-time approaching, and after Steven Jennings had found the side netting with a header, the visitors finally got the goal their performance deserved.

Unsurprisingly, it came from Norwood, who was picked out by Maynard on the left hand side of the penalty area.

With time and space to think about where he was going to put the ball, the striker duly slammed home his tenth of the season, beating the ‘keeper at his near post with a vicious left-footed strike.

Unfortunately, however, the lead did not last long.

Just four minutes later, Halifax got an equaliser that they simply did not deserve as they finally ventured into the Rovers half.

Captain Nicky Wroe got it, and it was a special strike.

He too was left with time and space, but this time 30-yards out, and with no challenge forthcoming, he hammered the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the crossbar.

That meant the two sides went in level at the break and in truth, the 1-1 scoreline flattered Halifax after a strong opening 45 minutes from Tranmere.

But that is the story of their season. Countless games have seen Rovers finish on the wrong end of a defeat already this campaign, despite long spells of dominance and numerous chances.

Today was different, but only in the form of a draw instead of a loss. For all the nice interplay by Norwood and Maynard in the first half, and the dominance that the visitors enjoyed, they showed no cutting edge.

And so after the break, with the rain and wind picking up, Tranmere began to sink further back as Halifax had the better of the play.

Chances were few and far between for both sides, with Jennings heading over for Rovers, whilst Maynard also scuffed a shot from close range.

But at the other end, Shaun Tuton fired towards the near post from the edge of the box and saw the ball awkwardly diverted for a corner by Davies.

Brabin tried to change things around, with Ben Tomlinson coming off the bench.

But the former’s introduction was greeted by a chorus of boos from some Tranmere fans, perhaps annoyed that it took another eight minutes for Andy Mangan to be introduced.

He nearly had the last laugh though as with ten minutes remaining, he was left in acres of space on the right-wing.

From there he picked out Norwood who somehow put the ball wide of the near post from close range.

With five minutes left, Tranmere were given a lift as the hosts were reduced to ten men.

It was Jordan Burrow who got his marching orders, shown a second yellow card for a late foul on Harris.

But Rovers could not make the man advantage pay, as they created just one final chance.

It fell to Tomlinson and he was unlucky not to score with a thunderbolt that rattled the post and cannoned away from danger.

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