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04:37 11th July 2012

A second half revival and a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Iron meant that Tranmere Rovers' unbeaten start to the league season stretched to ten games.

A brace from Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and a James Wallace header condemmed the Iron to a 3-1 defeat.

Despite taking a first half lead through Karl Hawley’s first ever goal for the club, the home side capitulated in the second period, conceding two goals in three minutes.

After losing 2-1 to Portsmouth at the weekend, Alan Knill kept faith with the same starting eleven, meaning skipper Paul Reid had to be content with a place on the bench.

That meant, after shaking off a dead leg which forced him off at the weekend, Sam Slocombe started between the posts.

In front of him were a back four of Christian Ribeiro, David Mirfin, Niall Canavan and Tom Newey.

The midfield quartet consisted of Mark Duffy, Jimmy Ryan, Josh Walker and David Prutton while up front Hawley partnered five-goal Leon Clarke.


It was the Iron who came out of the traps the quickest as, within the first ten minutes, Hawley saw his header fly just over and Duffy had a free-kick superbly tipped around the corner after Clarke had been fouled.


Then, after 14 minutes, the Iron were ahead and for once it wasn’t Clarke.

After a great Ribeiro run down the right Ryan whipped a cross in and Hawley rose unmarked to dispatch the easiest of headers past Owain Fon Williams and into the right hand corner of the net.

Not long afterwards, Ronnie Moore replaced veteran Andy Robinson with Adam McGuirk for what can presumably have only been an injury as the rain lashed down at a sodden Glanford Park.

After a bright start the game then drifted towards the half time whistle, the visitors looking a shadow of the side unbeaten all season while despite having the lion’s share of possession and probing well the Iron failed to find that elusive second goal.

With two minutes of the half left the visitors mustered their best effort. Jake Cassidy jinked past three Iron defenders almost as if their feet were set in concrete, but his tamely struck shot fell comfortably into the midriff of Slocombe.

As fourth official Paul Cook signalled a minute of added time, Duffy saw a shot fly inches wide and at the other end Zoumana Bakayogo fired hopelessly over, so as it was the Iron went in at the interval holding the slenderest of advantages, still looking for that cushion of a second goal which many inside the ground felt they would need to come away with all three points.


On the hour mark the tide began to turn, Prutton hacked down Wallace inside the United half, earning his fifth booking and consequently will be suspended for Saturday’s visit to Stevenage.


Then just three minutes later, as had always looked the case, the home side’s inability to convert their chances cost them dear as Wallace crashed home a header off the underside of the bar from McGuirk’s corner.

Just a minute after equalising the visitors took the lead and again it was the Iron’s Achilles heel of being unable to defend set pieces that proved to be their undoing.

A corner swung in from the left caused confusion inside the box and with the ball bouncing around like a pinball Jean Louis Akpa Akpro reacted the fastest to stab past a stranded Slocombe.


After dominating in the first period it was then United who seemed to be hanging on by their fingertips as first Slocombe had to be alert to push away an Akpo Akpro chance and then Wolves loanee Jake Cassidy fired wide seconds later.


With ten minutes to go, Knill threw Mike Grella into the fray for Prutton as the Iron went on the offensive with a 4-3-3 formation, looking to snatch something from the game.

But to no avail, as with just three minutes remaining, Akpa Akpro made it three after finding himself one on one with Slocombe as the Iron committed too many men forward leaving the United crowd’s spirits as damp as the inclement weather.


Attendance: 2,768 (238 away).

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.