2 in a row!
Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Newport County (AET) (25/05/2019) Sky Bet League 2 Play Off Final Review:
And breathe! The 2018/2019 season is over and what a campaign it was! I’ll get to the campaign as a whole another day though.
May 25th 2019, Wembley Stadium
A day and a place that will be fondly remembered for all the SWA. 378 days on from when we won promotion to the EFL against Boreham Wood, we did it again. Tranmere Rovers are back in League 1!
For 2 hours, Rovers and County went head to head for the chance to be a League 1 side next season. I don’t think that anybody could have predicted this at the beginning of August.
The game management from Micky was phenomenal once again, much like it was over 2 legs against Forest Green. His subs raised eyebrows, Steve McNulty replacing Kieron Morris in particular, but wow did they pay off! When Macca came off the bench, this was to an army of Whites chanting his name, he had a point to prove. Steve has only started one game since the end of January so him coming on in a play off final could’ve been seen as a dubious move. The man denied Padraig Amond like he was running into a brick wall.
The work rate from every player on the pitch ensured that Tranmere secured a place in England’s third tier, a league we have been absent from since 2014. What a fantastic achievement, all credit goes to the staff, fans, players, Micky and his team and the owners of the club. Mark and Nicola Palios- the saviours of Tranmere Rovers. In 2015, Mark said “it’s devastating today but not disastrous tomorrow”, tomorrow is here!
Back to the game!
“The header, it’s in! It’s Connor Jennings!”
Take a bow Connor, take a bow every single Rovers player. What a performance, for 120 minutes the boys slaved away in an attempt to win promotion and they succeeded! It was the 119th minute of the game, the penultimate minute in extra time, the ball comes in from Jake Caprice and is matched by a marvellous header by super-star Connor Jennings. This was the moment Tranmere knew they were up. Joy and elation at one side of Wembley. Dejection and misery on the other side. Commiserations to Newport, they battled for 2 hours and came up just short, good luck next season.
A penalty shoot out seemed destined to determine the outcome of such a scrappy, back and forth encounter. Adam Buxton was substituted on, undoubtedly to take one of our spot kicks. The role Buxton played was the polar opposite of that expected. The cut inside, the pass to Pringle which ultimately led to the cushioned pass to Caprice to set up Jenno’s match-winning header. Unbelievable. The feeling of ecstasy and euphoria within the SWA is a feeling that I personally, along with every other supporter, will never forget. Rovers were on cloud nine.
The engine that is David Perkins, the midfield master that is Ollie Banks, the ‘hard as nails’ Jay Harris. Three men who have helped deliver this success to Tranmere from the middle of the park. Jay Harris, who was replaced by Ben Pringle shortly into the second half, gave it his all. Ollie Banks and Perky both ran the centre, working effortlessly in the meantime.
The back 5 stood out, all of them with tremendous performances. Manny Monthe being the monster that he is, clearing balls, winning headers and seeing the ball out. Sid Nelson performed the most diving headed clearances that I’ve ever seen, he was like a salmon leaping out of water. Jake Caprice scurrying down the flank all game. Liam Ridehalgh lasting longer than 48 seconds… He deserved this win! Liam Ridehalgh didn’t put a foot wrong in the contest, winning headers and winning tackles in dangerous areas. Scott Davies, what a goalkeeper! Arguably one of the best shot-stoppers Rovers have ever possessed. In the words of Lord Norwood: “Scott did what Scott does”, Scotty kept us in the game with what was an inconceivable, mind-boggling save.
I don’t think that there was a doubt in anybody’s mind that the lads would give 110% in the game. In 2018 it was claimed that they ‘would die for each other out there’, they did it then and they did it again this year.
In front of a crowd of 25,217 they delivered. As always, the lads were backed by the unparalleled support of the SWA!
Tranmere are back in League 1.
Back to back promotions.
2 in a row.
3 in a row? Why not!
The Whites are going up.
Both sets of fans singing for 120 minutes.
Rovers line up:
Davies, Caprice, Nelson (Buxton 115’), Monthe, Ridehalgh, Morris (McNulty 82’), Harris (Pringle 53’), Banks, Perkins, Jennings, Norwood
Connor Jennings & Sid Nelson
If I had to pick one, Connor Jennings. Failing that, Sid Nelson. The two stand out men for me in that final. They gave it all for the team. About Sid, you can take the lad out of Millwall but you can’t take Millwall out of the lad. Solid.
The Big One
Tranmere Rovers vs. Newport County (25/05/2019) Sky Bet League 2 Play Off Final Preview:
This weekend marks the end of the season in England’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier, it’s play off final time! Of the 3 play off finals being contested on the bank holiday weekend, Rovers and County will play their game first.
Has it kicked in yet? On Saturday, Tranmere will play at Wembley in the League 2 play off final. For the third season in a row the Whites will vie for promotion under the white arch of Wembley, this time for a place in League 1. Rovers have been absent from England’s third tier since 2014, a season which saw our 13-year stint in the division conclude. Only one player from our final season in League 1 remains: Liam Ridehalgh. Since Rovers’ relegation at the hands of Bradford in May 2014, a game which Liam featured in, the former Huddersfield man has gone on to make nearly 150 more appearances for the club. Liam has endured some wretched times at his time at Tranmere- including back to back relegations, 3 years in non-league, a myriad of injury concerns, a Wembley defeat and a red card at Wembley the following year. If anybody deserves to have a champagne moment this season it’s that man!
If we look back at Tranmere’s last 2 visits to the now aptly nicknamed ‘Prenton Park South’, the feeling going into those games was the opposite of this campaign’s visit. In 2017, against Forest Green, we needed to win, especially after finishing on 95 points- second only to Lincoln. The game against Boreham Wood last year was make or break- If Rovers hadn’t won we would’ve lost a lot of key players and struggled in the 5th tier for years to come, much like our Welsh counterpart Wrexham. However, this year everything is different, if Tranmere fail to beat Newport it’s not the end of the world. If the Whites don’t win, we will all still be eternally proud- this group of lads have defied all of our expectations this term.
Go back to the end of pre season, specifically the 3-1 defeat at home to Rochdale, a game which saw key Rovers player David Perkins fielded against us, the mood was perturbed. After that defeat, a number of fans were fretful about this season.
This quote, taken from a tweet of the Tranmere shot-stopper, foreshadowed the truly stupendous season we have enjoyed. Scotty won the golden gloves with 19 clean sheets.
At the time of writing, 12,000 Wembley tickets have been sold- this leads me to believe that the Whites will be backed by around 13,000-14,000 members of the Super White Army on Saturday. Saturday is another chance for the SWA to once again witness the club prosper even more. Tens of members of the SWA have also been donating money before the big game to help families and those less fortunate, who would not have been able to afford the trip, get down to Wembley to back MM and his men.
If you want something to listen to on your journey down or in the remaining days leading up to the final then give Matt Hibbert’s Tranmere mix a listen:
Perko believes the lads hold a great advantage over Newport when it comes to competing in play off finals at Wembley. A lot of the squad which participated last year at Wembley remain at the club. The lads all have that experience of playing at Wembley, some other players have it from other games away from Rovers.
Hopefully my next match preview will be for a League 1 fixture! So get down to Wembley & support the lads.
We’re 90 minutes from League 1.
Probable line ups:
Tranmere- Davies, Caprice, Monthe, Nelson, Ridehalgh, Morris, Banks, Harris, Perkins, Jennings, Norwood
Newport- Day, Poole, O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler, Willmot, Labadie, Sheehan, Bennett, Matt, Amond
(I don’t want to make one) but:
Tranmere 1-1 Newport AET
Tranmere win on penalties