Tranmere fail to take chances in home defeat
A valiant effort from Tranmere wasn`t enough on the day as goals late in both half`s handing Huddersfield all three points.
The scoreline failed to paint the whole picture, with the homes side outplaying their second-placed opponents for large parts of the game. In fact, the Whites should have equalised through Adam McGurk in the second-half with the gap between the two teams at a single goal.
There were three changes made to the side that lined-up in the goalless draw at Oldham on Monday with Ash Taylor taking the place of the suspended Ian Goodison in the heart of the Rovers back-line. Joss Labadie came in for the injured Andy Robinson in midfield while Lucas Akins was replaced by Zoumana Bakayogo on the wing in moves that very much echoed the substitutions made by Parry earlier in the week.
Tranmere started lively with Dale Jennings looking to run at the defence at every opportunity. A move started by the youngster ended in Enoch Showunmi having a penalty appeal turned down after being pulled down in the box in the games first few minutes.
Taylor went close to getting the opening goal from an Aaron Cresswell corner that only just evaded the head of the defender at the far post, but with the away side looking to get out of their own half, Cresswell was continuously allowed space on the left to swing in inviting crosses.
The Whites continued their dominant start and seemed to be creating chances every time they went forward. But the first scare at the other end saw the Whites get off lightly with Cresswell misplacing a clearance, allowing the Terriers to break quickly. Danny Ward was played in to dual with Warner, but the veteran keeper used all of his experience to narrow the angle before Ward`s shot hit the side-netting.
Halfway through the first period and Tranmere were back in the visitors half to produce the best move of the match. Jennings and Showunmi combined to give Bakayogo a chance to shoot, the winger got plenty on his effort and could only be denied by a fine stop from Terriers keeper Ian Bennett.
However, well against the run of play, the visitors made Rovers pay for their missed chances. Warner produced a superb one handed save to keep out Scott Arfield`s deflected shot, but the resulting corner saw the keeper unable to hold onto the initial cross, with Benik Afobe pouncing to bundle the ball in at the far post.
Soon after, the frustration amongst Parry`s side seemed to be showing as Labadie and Jennings found themselves booked for rash challenges just before the whistle sounded.
Jamie McCombe went close to adding a second for the visitors straight after the restart with a header that just went over from six-yards out, while Labadie had a low drive that was turned away for a corner at the other end.
Barring a short flurry of corners by the Whites that came to nothing, the game endured a quiet patch inside the half`s first 20 minutes. This led to both sides making changes, with McGurk coming on for Bakayogo to line-up alongside Showunmi up-front as Rovers switched to 4-4-2. For the Terriers, Jordan Rhodes came on for Danny Ward.
It wasn`t long until McGurk was forced into action, and could have become a hero with his first goal for the club minutes after coming on. Some good work by Showunmi on the left side saw the former Leeds man battle forward to the touch line where his cross just needed a touch from McGurk to equalise. Unfortunately, the striker misjudged the flight and the ball was scrambled out for a corner.
As the minutes ticked down, the chances to equalise were in short supply as Huddersfield pushed men back. A poor delivery from Cresswell led to the Terriers breaking away and leaving the defence exposed. Substitute Lee Novak raced forward and rounded Warner to tap in from just outside of the box to seal the win.
Try as they might, the Whites couldn`t grab a consolation, with Jennings hobbling off as Akins took to the field in one of the last actions of the game.
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Taylor, McChrystal, Cresswell, Weir, Labadie, Welsh, Bakayogo (McGurk 69), Jennings (Akins 90+4), Showunmi. Substitutes not used: Collister, Wood, Blanchard, Fraughan, Mahon.
Huddersfield: Bennett, Peltier, McCombe, Clarke, Ridehalgh (Hunt 11), Kilbane, Gudjonsson, Arfield, Roberts, Ward (Rhodes 68), Afobe (Novak 82). Substitutes not used: Colgan, Morrison, Kay, Lee.
Referee: Darren Deadman
Yellow cards: Labadie (39), Jennings (44)
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