Maidstone 0-1 Tranmere: Mellon pride as youth show class

A beaming Micky Mellon could not contain his pride at Tranmere’s young players after their 1-0 win over Maidstone.

Rovers defied their age and experience with a brilliant display, despite a starting line up with an average age of just 19.

Six players made their debut for the club, whilst a further three started a game for the first time.

Yet this well drilled side showed no sign that they were a second string XI, defending resolutely and confidently to earn the points after Sam Ilensanmi’s strike.


“It’s wonderful,” said Mellon. “With so much young talent, it’s great to see their ability and determination to do well.

“It’s good for the soul, they were absolutely brilliant.

“I’m so, so proud. They deserve all the credit that’s going to come their way.

“I’m pretty speechless to be honest, because it’s just such a nice feeling to see them get their rewards for working so hard.

“When people saw the team, who thought we were going to beat a full strength Maidstone?

“To get a clean sheet and a win here is always very difficult, so it’s fantastic.

“When I saw them score and the way they celebrated. it was priceless.

“Sam has finished it brilliantly.”

The line up will not be a nod to what we see as Tranmere take on Aldershot in the play-offs on Wednesday.


Indeed, the big guns will return and Mellon will almost certainly make eleven changes as the serious action returns.

But perhaps this was a glimpse of the future. A chance to see a couple of players who have really bright futures in the game.

Two of them are Luke Pilling and Evan Gumbs; first year professionals who have been out on loan this season.

They looked like seasoned leaders, though, marshalling the Rovers backline with wonderful assurance.

“We have a way we want to develop players, because we don’t have a reserve team anymore,” Mellon continued.

“We want to get them out on loan and develop them by playing men’s football.

“I think today we saw the benefits of that, because Evan Gumbs and Luke Pilling are used to the rough of tumble of it.

“I’m really pleased for them, the club and the fans who have travelled all the way down.

“The Tranmere supporters will be as proud of that and enjoyed that result as much as many this season. It is that big. It’s so good to see.


“I was nervous for them. I wanted them to get over the line because they deserve it so much. And they did. We’ll get them some sweets for the journey home now.”

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