ROVERS JUST KEEP MARCHING ON
VERDICT: Tranmere deservedly took home the points to move into fifth while Woking remain in freefall, having won just once in their last 13 league games or twice in 19 across all competitions
THEY made hard work out of it, but ten-man Tranmere Rovers claimed a crucial victory over sorry Woking to get their promotion hopes back on track.
This was the type of match that Rovers had been conspiring to lose a few months ago yet in the face of adversity, when captain Steve McNulty suffered a nasty gash on his shin in the first minute and goalscorer Andy Cook was sent off with ten minutes remaining, they deservedly held on.
Had it not been for Woking’s goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, on loan from Chelsea, Tranmere boss Micky Mellon would have had a much more relaxing afternoon.
“It’s a difficult place to come,” he said. “We’ve had a hell of a lot of chances here and we’re disappointed we haven’t made it more comfortable for ourselves.
“I think the best gauge of a missed chance is if whoever did it puts their face in their hands – I think I did that about five times today!”
Woking’s Declan Appau was fortunate not to have seen red after less than 60 seconds for his challenge on McNulty, which Mellon could only agree with.
He added: “I’m not here to get people sent off. I love football, I love everything that football is about, but you have a responsibility to your teammates and your opposition that you can’t go making challenges like that because you can end people’s careers.
“That’s how serious that was. I could see his shin bone. It can’t be allowed to happen.”
Appau was only booked and that early substitution rocked the visitors as Woking’s Fabio Saraiva had several early sights of goal.
His chance from close range in the 22nd minute, that the Tranmere defence somehow managed to block, proved a turning point.
Rovers’ Adam Buxton, who enjoyed a fine game at rightback, volleyed narrowly wide and then Cook had a header tipped over by the excellent and resilient Baxter.
Minutes later, the 19-yearold could do little about Tranmere’s opener, as the striker got his head on a corner, which landed at the feet of Connor Jennings in the six-yard box and, with his back to goal, he laid the ball off for Cook to slot home.
Baxter again denied a Cook header and then Norwood managed to poke wide when it looked easier to score.
It should have been two for Cook and Tranmere on the hour mark, but the Woking goalkeeper produced his best save from point-blank range.
Woking sub Reece GregoCox, making his debut following his release from Queen’s Park Rangers, had the home side’s only shot on target in the second half following Baxter’s double save from the impressive Norwood.
The result should have been done and dusted by the time Cook was shown a second yellow card for an innocuous trip. It prompted a late Woking bombardment and Anthony Cook, drafted in on loan from Ebbsfleet to replace the Peterborough-bound Joe Ward, struck the woodwork with a free-kick.
Anthony Limbrick’s side have taken seven points from a possible 39, and he admitted that things aren’t going their way at the moment.
“The difference in the game was that they had a little bit more quality in both boxes,” he said. “We’re getting into some of those positions, but the final cross or ball isn’t there at the moment and we need to be more clinical.”
On Appau’s challenge, he added: “The ball was there to be won. It was quite high, their player went in high as well.
“I don’t think he meant to catch him, Dec is not that sort of lad.
“I’ll have to look at it again but I think it looked worse because their player ended up getting injured from it.”
STAR MAN: Nathan Baxter (Woking) ATT: 2,115 ENTERTAINMENT: ★★★★★ REFEREE: Adrian Quelch 5/10