Chester 2-3 Tranmere: Report

Micky Mellon’s super-subs cooked up a storm as comeback kings Tranmere beat Chester 3-2 in an enthralling local derby.

Rovers twice trailed at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium, but James Norwood sparked wild scenes from the visiting fans as they grabbed the three points late on.

It was no more than they deserved, having dominated for long periods but failed to make their domination count.

Punch for punch and man for man, they were almost unanimously better than Chester in a game that promised action and most certainly got it.

And when Cook swung his right boot in the 90th minute, celebrations from the Super White Army spilled on to the pitch as they picked up a huge win.

Micky Mellon made just one change to the Tranmere line up that thumped Barrow 5-1 to reach the FA Trophy semi-finals last week.

Jake Kirby, who broke his leg in the game, was replaced by Adam Mekki, whilst top scorer Andy Cook had to settle for a place on the bench after Cole Stockton’s hat-trick.

Meanwhile a familiar face started for Chester in the form of Evan Horwood.

The left-back spent a season at Prenton Park under Ronnie Moore before moving on to Northampton, yet he still coaches in the Tranmere academy.

Predictably, he was involved right from the off as within two minutes Chester had won a penalty.

James Alabi was brought down on the edge of the box, but the referee waved play on and Horwood ran on to the loose ball.

Rovers, expecting a foul, had stopped, and that allowed him with a chance to surge forward before being felled by Michael Ihiekwe.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot, though replays showed contact was made outside the box, and Alabi thrashed the ball into the top corner.

Another blow came almost immediately, as Lois Maynard, injured in the build up, had to be substituted with a hip injury and was replaced by former Chester man Jay Harris.

Rovers looked to hit back quickly and it did not take them too long to test goalkeeper Alex Lynch, as he saved a clever flick from Stockton.

Mekki was causing a few problems too, but had failed to find the target with a couple of long range efforts.

He was generally the man buzzing around the edge of the Chester box, though his end product was yet to be good enough.

In fact, it was very much a case of Tranmere enjoying plenty of possession, but failing to get any reward for it.

They ventured forward on countless occasions, only to lose the ball to a defence who would hoof it over the half way line and wait for the next wave of attack.

The hosts though had the last chance of the half, with an Elliott Durrell flying just inches wide of the post.

Rovers started the second 45 minutes like a steam train, with Ihiekwe heading one early chance over the bar when he should have at least tested Lynch.

Mekki had another go soon afterwards, picking up possession on the corner of the box, but his shot lacked any venom and was straight at the ‘keeper.

Lynch though could do nothing about Tranmere’s next effort as they finally made their domination count with a superb strike.

Chester struggled to deal with a corner that was only partly cleared as far as Harris 22-yards out. 

From there, he leathered the ball into the back of the net, swerving it home off the outside of his right-boot.

It sent the visiting fans into delirium, but their cheers were soon cut short as Chester re-took the lead.

Chester were awarded a free-kick near the half way line, which was lofted into the box and headed agonisingly wide for a corner by Ihiekwe.

And from the resulting set-piece, Ryan Astles, for the second time this season, breached the Tranmere backing with a booming header.

Rovers needed to wrestle back the momentum and quickly, so Micky Mellon threw James Norwood on upfront in place of Andy Mangan.

But it was another sub, Andy Cook, who had their next chance, heading over from a Hughes corner.

The striker soon made his mark on the game though as he leveled the scores with his tenth league goal of the season.

Tranmere were piling men forward, and eventually the ball popped out to Liam Ridehalgh on the left.

He floated a delicious ball in towards the back stick, from where Norwood left unmarked and headed in to the bottom corner.

And then, with the game drifting towards a draw, Cook changed the outlook of Rovers’ promotion push.

The ball fell to him in the D, and he beautifully curled into the bottom corner before celebrating in front of the Chester fans who had earlier jeered him as he warmed up.

Nervous times followed as the fourth official indicated seven minutes of added time.

Tranmere legs were heavy, and Chester had three late chances but failed to hit the target with any of them as they clung on.


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