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16:56 28th January 2012


Town came away from Tranmere Rovers with a point this afternoon after a fierce encounter at Prenton Park.

The hosts had the best chances in a goalless first but couldn't capitalise and when Jordan Rhodes netted his 29th of an amazing season early in the second half it looked like the Terriers would make the most of it - only to be pegged back almost immediately by an Adam McGurk header.

There were some positives to take from the game - particularly the commanding performance of debutant Sean Morrison at centre back - but the Terriers were never at their best and had to settle for a point.

The Terriers, in their change strip of red shirts, black shorts and black socks, kicked off to start the game in chilly conditions at Prenton Park and had an early chance to test the home defence with a free-kick. Danny Ward took the set-piece, but veteran defender Ian Goodison's header managed to find a way back to one-time Town 'keeper Paul Rachubka in a crowded area.

Sean Morrison had been handed a Town debut by manager Lee Clark and in his first action he eased striker Mustafa Tiryaki off the ball with comfort, sparking a round of applause from the Town faithful.

The first shot on goal came from Tranmere skipper John Welsh in the 6th minute after he created space through a quickly taken free-kick with teammate Adam McGurk, but his long range effort flew over the crossbar.

After that effort the hosts enjoyed some territorial pressure without testing Ian Bennett, but the showcased the innovation from set-pieces that Lee Clark had warned about in his pre-match comments. The returning Damien Johnson made a couple of important blocks on the edge of his own area.

Tranmere's pressure almost paid off in the 14th minute when Welsh's cross into the box beat McCombe and fell to striker Tiryaki, but with the goal at his mercy the forward prodded the ball wide - much to the disbelief of the home fans.

That near miss seemed to energise the Terriers and their first shot followed barely a minute later. Good play down the right between Oscar Gobern, Danny Cadamarteri and Jack Hunt ended with the latter drilling a cross into the penalty area; Jordan Rhodes got on the end of it, but he sent his volley over the crossbar from 15 yards out.

In the 18th minute we saw another one of Morrison's attributes-a giant long throw! On this occasion Rachubka did well to collect through a crowd of players, but the length of the delivery was impressive nonetheless.

Three minutes later Tranmere went close again, with winger Martin Devaney hitting the outside of the side netting with a snapshot from around the penalty spot. Tiryaki showed good endeavour to snatch the ball off Sean Morrison before pulling the ball back to his teammate, who had to get the shot away early.

Everton loanee James Wallace sent a speculative shot straight into the arms of Bennett a few moments later before Tiryaki fired well over from range as Les Parry's side continued to impress.

Tiryaki fired woefully wide with an ambitious free-kick from 30 yards as the half hour approached.

Town fought back through a set piece of their own soon after, followed with a good passage of short passing. Unfortunately that ended when Ward drifted infield - he miss-controlled the ball as he tried to line up a trademark long range shot.

Referee Mr Kettle then began to incur the wrath of the Town fans behind the goal with a couple of handball decisions against the Terriers; first Naysmith and then Cadamarteri were penalised.

Danny Ward Tranmere 320

Former Town trainee Lucas Akins then went close to opening the scoring in the 39th minute. Tranmere robbed Lee Novak of possession in the centre circle before breaking effectively, with Buchanan feeding Devaney down the left side; his low cross trickled across the face of the box before finding right winger Akins, who placed his shot wide with his weaker left foot.

Skipper Gary Naysmith was perfectly positioned to head away McGurk's free-kick just as Akins tried to latch onto the far post cross minutes before the first half came to a close.


Town came out of the blocks with renewed vigour in the second half and could have taken the lead when they created their best chance in the opening two minutes. Danny Cadamarteri won a corner down the Town left and when Damien Johnson sent a long ball to the back post, new boy Morrison headed just wide.

GOAL - The Terriers were buoyed by that chance and did take the lead in the 49th minute, with that man Jordan Rhodes netting a superb 29th goal of the season. The goal started with Jack Hunt swinging a superb cross from deep towards the back post; Danny Cadamarteri did equally well to get to the cross and knock the ball back to his prolific teammate, who made no mistake in placing the ball into the back post to spark wild celebrations.

SUB - Town were then immediately forced into a substitution in the 50th minute Danny Ward had taken a knock in the first half and although he came out for the second period he couldn't continue; Tom Clarke replaced him, which meant Jack Hunt moved forward to the right wing.

GOAL - After taking the lead, Clark's men were immediately pegged back when Adam McGurk netted a quick-fire equaliser. The experienced Martin Devaney found space down the flank to cross deep towards the back post and new sub Clarke watched on as McGurk ran onto the ball and powered a header past a helpless Bennett to restore parity in the score-line.

BOOKING - Oscar Gobern was shown the first yellow card of the game in the 61st minute for a clumsy lunge on Welsh in the centre circle.

SUB - Town's second change followed in the 62nd minute, with Alan Lee replacing Lee Novak in attack.

Immediately the big striker was in the action, getting a knee in the back from veteran Goodison as Town built an attack. Cadamarteri continued with the ball down the left before his deflected cross fell to fellow winger Hunt at the back post, but the Academy graduate could only loop a tame volley into Rachubka's hands.

Lee was clearly struggling after that knock, but the Irishman was adamant that he was staying on - running off the injury.

Town then launched an attack down the right side with the unlikely source of centre back Morrison making a break to latch onto a pass from Hunt. The centre back's low driven delivery was excellent, but no Town player could get across the 'keeper and Rachubka gathered well.

Gary Naysmith Tranmere 320

SUB - Tranmere's first substitution took place in the 74th minute after goal-scorer McGurk picked up an injury; he was replaced by Lateef Elford-Alliyu.

Jack Hunt was the next to get a whack from Goodison when play restarted; getting a kick in the chest as the former Jamaican international cleared the ball.

Ian Bennett then had a real 'heart in your mouth' moment when Devaney hit a speculative long-shot in the 78th minute. The ball arrowed straight at Town's experienced goalie, but he spilled the shot - inches around the outside of his left-hand post.

SUB - Despite his brave effort Alan Lee couldn't continue and was replaced by Anton Robinson in the 80th minute. Anton Robinson came on in his place and took up a position just off Rhodes in attack.

BOOKING - Jamie McCombe followed Gobern into the referee's notebook with ten minutes left for a clumsy challenge down by the right touchline.

Oscar Gobern hit a hopeful long shot into the Town fans behind the goal in the final stages of the game after more good wing-play from Cadamarteri.

SUB - Tranmere handed a debut to their new loan signing Ryan Brunt in the 85th minute; he replaced Martin Devaney.

It then looked like Tranmere would snatch a last gasp winner when a deflected pass into the area fell to substitute Elford-Alliyu; the loanee rounded Ian Bennett, but Tom Clarke had tracked him all the way into the area and managed to block his shot at the empty goal around the post. From the resulting corner, Ian Bennett just managed to prevent a snapshot from Goodison from going over the line.

Tiryaki blasted well wide of the near post as the game final few minutes approached.

BOOKING - Tranmere midfielder James Wallace was shown a yellow card in the first minute of added time for a late challenge on Naysmith.

Both sides were pressing for a winner in the four minutes of added time, but had to settle for a draw.


Sean Morrison Tranmere 320

Town's team (4-4-2):

Ian Bennett; Gary Naysmith (c), Sean Morrison, Jamie McCombe, Jack Hunt; Danny Ward (Tom Clarke 50), Oscar Gobern, Damien Johnson, Danny Cadamarteri; Lee Novak (Alan Lee 62 (Anton Robinson 80)), Jordan Rhodes

Unused Subs: Alex Smithies, Tommy Miller

Town Bookings: Oscar Gobern 61; Jamie McCombe 80

Tranmere Booking: James Wallace 90

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.