If we don't win this game, deep gloom will undoubtedly descend upon us. The hope that a new manager would instil some life into the team proved to be unfounded as our display against Wycombe was largely uninspiring. We seemed to be pumping even more long hopeful balls around than usual and there was less evidence of our close-passing style. I fear that all those injuries have taken the edge off Watmore and he's lost his previous sparkle but perhaps he just needs a few more games. With McGeady suspended surely Maguire will start tonight and with Wyke injured Grigg will no doubt start too. Tranmere are hovering just above the relegation zone and have lost six matches so far. For some reason I hadn't noticed that we had a game tonight otherwise I would've stayed in Sunderland another night to see it so it'll have to be SAFSEE for me again this evening. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
When the teams were announced both Grigg and Maguire were starting and so were Dobson and Gooch. McLaughlin C. and Leadbitter were back on the bench but so was Kimpioka and I fancied seeing him on at some stage to give us some flair. Grigg had a back-heeler that hit the post in the third minute but then it went quiet for a while but things livened up in the ninth minute when we won our first corner. It was easily cleared and then Dobson was yellow-carded for a foul. Tranmere were sounding slicker than us and commentator Gary Bennett said we were too sloppy, an adjective he's often used about us in recent months. Watmore went on a run and put a great ball across their penalty area but nobody was there to get a touch. Tranmere won their first two corners and I didn't like the way things were going but shortly afterwards we were 1-0 up and it was Watmore who angled the ball across the keeper Davies after being set up by Grigg. Almost immediately Watmore was again causing the Tranmere defence problems and he was tripped in the D by Ray who was booked for his efforts. From the result free-kick Maguire whacked the ball into the corner to put us 2-0 up and the crowd were roaring. That was a very decent two minutes but I hoped we wouldn't settle back as we've done too often of late. Mullin somehow managed to escape a yellow after three fouls as bad as the one for which Dobson had been booked earlier. Tranmere had been trying for a goal back, winning a couple of corners in the process, but six minutes from the break we went 3-0 ahead and it was Gooch who got it after good build up by Watmore and Grigg. Playing 4-4-2 was really paying dividends and the game was surely in the bag but I was hoping for five or six goals to give us all a real boost. Payne was booked too just to add a little garnish to the main fare. The ball was in the Tranmere net again but it was ruled out for offside. I was more than happy at the break and was pleased that Watmore had made me eat my words.
About eight minutes into the second-half Gooch was clutching his ankle and was soon replaced by McNulty, whom I'm always happy to see come on. Tranmere won their sixth and seventh corners of the match and from the latter the ball hit the post and was scrambled clear. The crowd was announced and at 28,551 was very decent indeed all things considered. We hadn't really got going again as so often happens when a team has a commanding lead at the break. Maybe Kimpioka would come on and show us what he can do? In the sixty-third minute McNulty went on a good run and curled a shot in but it went just over. It certainly livened the crowd up and then Lynch went on a bit of a spree too to add to the buzz. Just after the midway point of the half Watmore had a couple of shots in succession both of which were blocked. Soon McLaughlin came on for Watmore, who received a deserved ovation, and O'Nien was moved forward as a result. We won only our second corner of the game with fifteen minutes to go from which Lynch had a flicked shot that caused trouble. I was still hoping that we'd get a fourth just to put the icing on the cake but the time was slipping away very quickly. Next thing Kimpioka started warming up and Nick Barnes called him the Hand Grenade, a name I'd not heard before. We finally went 4-0 up when McNulty set it up on a plate for Grigg to shoot home from two yards out. Nick Barnes said, “He couldn't miss that, could he?” Er, yes but fair dues to him and I hope he'll get plenty more. Kimpioka eventually came on for Grigg with about a minute left after a bit of bother over his earring and there was a lot of applause for the latter. Just into stoppage-time O'Nien made it 5-0 with a diving header following a free-kick. There was much applause and cheering when the whistle went.
Five goals, three points and a clean sheet. All in all a great evening. Bring on Shrewsbury.