Barrow 3-4 Tranmere: Report

Tranmere were the Kings of comebacks under John Aldridge – and they proved they have still got it with a sensational turn around against Barrow.

Rovers were 3-1 down as the game went into injury time, but showed incredible bouncebackability as a hat-trick of late goals grabbed the three points.

Indeed, this could prove a pivotal win for Gary Brabin who was under yet more pressure as the game entered its closing stages.

But his substitute Jake Kirby scored a 94th minute winner that grabbed the most unlikely of victories

The game passed an early morning pitch inspection and went ahead, despite standing water all over the surface.

Rovers assistant James Quinn was particularly concerned about the penalty area in front of the visiting supporters as the ball stopped dead on the sodden turf when the goalkeepers warmed up.

Indeed, even after the teams had started going through their stretches, the groundsmen continued to work furiously on the turf.

The use of the “super-sopper” left huge muddy patches all over the pitch though – and it would only get worse throughout the 90 minutes.

Gary Brabin made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Macclesfield, with Ben Tomlinson coming into the side.

He was originally penciled into replace Adam Mekki, but Rovers suffered a blow just before kick off as James Norwood had to withdraw due to injury.

That meant Tomlinson played as the lone striker, and he thought he had his first Tranmere goal on 15 minutes.

Some lovely interplay between Steven Jennings and Jeff Hughes led to a shot from Adam Mekki from the edge of the area.

The ball deflected off a Barrow defender and was bundled home by Tomlinson, but his celebrations were cut short by the assistant-referee who ruled the forward was offside.

Five minutes later though, it was advantage Tranmere as they took the lead from the penalty spot.

Jennings was wrestled to the floor as he tried to get on the end of a long ball, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a foul.

Mekki stepped up to take it, and he calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way.

That settled Rovers down as although they had dominated possession early on, chances were few and far between.

Barrow’s first opening did not come until the half hour mark, as Andy Cook headed over the bar from Dan Pilkington’s deep cross.

Scott Davies was finally called into action a few moments later as he made a smart save to his right, leaping athletically to tip Alex-Ray Harvey’s shot around the post.

And then Hughes came close to doubling the Tranmere lead, breaking forward from midfield before firing over from the edge of the box.

Lois Maynard meanwhile had the final two chances of the half as his 20-yard half volley took a deflection and turned into a comfortable save, before he headed a Jeff Hughes free-kick over the bar.

That meant Rovers went into the break with a lead for only the second time since mid-October.

And after a sloppy start to the second half, it was not untily the hour mark that Joel Dixon was next called into action as he saved from Jay Harris’ tame shot.

Moments later though, Tranmere pressed the self-destruct button

Substitute Jason Walker had the ball in the corner of the box and was needlessly bundled over by Jennings having already offloaded possession.

The referee once again awarded a penalty that Walker took himself and he slapped it powerfully into the back of the net.

Tranmere looked to respond instantly, and Lois Maynard guided a header over the bar.

And with thirteen minutes to go the visitors made their first sub as Cole Stockton replaced the increasingly tired Tomlinson.

The striker though cast an increasingly isolated figure as the visiting defence dropped deeper and deeper.

That led to plenty of pressure, and with eight minutes left, that finally paid off as the hosts completed the comeback.

The goal came down the Tranmere left, with Simon Grand rising highest to meet a lofted cross and softly head into the back of the net.

This was a devasting blow for the visitors, but it was nothing more than the hosts had deserved after turning the screw in the second half.

Rovers persevered and were so unlucky not to equalise when Steve McNulty and Jennings had shots cleared off the line in a goalmouth scramble.

But then Barrow hit Tranmere with a sucker-punch as Andy Cook tapped home Walker’s cross after a wicked counter attack.

At 3-1, it looked like game over, but Rovers had other ideas.

Lois Maynard grabbed one back with a brilliant finish from 18-yards, firing home on the volley after good hold up play by Hughes.

The provider then turned scorer as he gambled on a long ball and rounded the ‘keeper before tapping into the back of the net.

And then deep into added time, Kirby, who had only been introduced eight minutes earlier, surged down the left before firing a deflected shot into the back of the net.

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