United succumbed to another loss on the road going down 2-1 to Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Two goals from Tranmere striker Andy Mangan put United to the sword in a game where the hosts were on top from the first whistle.
Captain Courtney Richards missed the game through suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Solihull Moors and was replaced by Joe Ward in the starting line-up. Kieffer Moore was given the captain’s armband by the Gaffer as a reward for his fine form since joining the club.
The early moments of the match set the tone for the rest of the ninety minutes. Tranmere showed extra composure and intent and kept a relative stranglehold on the match with United rarely keeping enough possession to impose themselves on their opponents.
Tranmere forced an early opportunity in the 10th minute which Mangan fired wide from an acute angle. They then created an almost identical opportunity when Mangan got behind United’s defence once again and this time made not mistake.
United players were appealing for a corner just before conceding. It was a legitimate shout and the Gulls can count themselves unlucky in that instance. They were lucky not to concede more goals, however.
Tranmere were first to the ball at nearly every opportunity. United were struggling to get close to the team in white. Portsmouth loanee Ben Tollitt was the star of the show for Tranmere, pulling United apart at points.
Mangan was only stopped putting Tranmere 2-0 up in the 18th minute by the assistant referee’s flag. United were living close to the edge and it seemed only a matter of time until Tranmere added to their lead.
In the same minute midfielder Luke Young pulled up with an injury. It was enough for him to request a substitution and we will have to wait and see how bad the injury is. Ben Gerring replaced the former United skipper, with Giancarlo Gallifuoco moving to right-back , and Aman Verma moving to midfield.
Mangan hit a shot over the bar in the 24th minute. Chances were falling to him but they were mostly on his left foot, which was fortuitous for the Gulls.
United’s forged a glimmer of an opportunity in the 32nd minute. If Dan Sparkes had gotten the ball back across the box then Kieffer Moore would’ve had a good chance to equalize.
United nearly took advantage of a mix-up in Tranmere’s box when McNulty dallied when needing to clear the ball.
As the first half came to an end it was clear that United were losing battles all over the pitch.
Just when United would have wanted to wipe the slate clean and go again, they conceded within two minutes of the game resuming. Andy Mangan was free once again and his shot took a touch off McGinty and then went through Brendan Moore.
United replied a minute later with one of their best opportunities of the match. Aman Verma headed over when well placed – it would have been the perfect reply.
In the 56th minute Ritchie Sutton should have made it 3-0 to Tranmere but his shot hit the top of the bar. He found far too much space inside United’s box, but things were about to take a turn for United.
Dan Sparkes took advantage of a mistake by Tranmere defender Lee Vaughan to slot home his third goal of the season.
No matter how United got themselves back into the match, they now had the chance to put Tranmere under pressure. It didn’t happen as much as the travelling Yellow Army would have liked.
In the 72nd minute Rowe-Turner and Dan Sparkes combined well to setup Kieffer Moore inside Tranmere’s box. His shot went wide, but it was hopefully going to help set the team up for a barnstorming finish. It didn’t really happen.
Tranmere, although shaken by conceding such a cheap goal, were still dominant.
Despite being second best for a lot of the game, it will have still been a disappointment that united didn’t push Tranmere closer in the last ten/fifteen minutes of the match.
They had to survive a penalty that was awarded to Tranmere after Sean McGinty was pulled up for a foul. Tranmere players jostled to take the penalty and the man with the ball, Andy Cook, had a lot of pressure on his shoulders after claiming the ball. He fired wide.
Thank you to the member of the Yellow Army that went to the match today. United travel to Dagenham on Tuesday, kick-off 7:45pm.