The Ant Moxey Report
So on a clear crisp night at the Park, City stop the rot and gain a hard fought but frustrating point in a 1-1 draw with visitors Tranmere in front of a season's low of just 3456 supporters, including another season's low of less than 60 from Tranmere. City lined up: Hamer; Golbourne, Taylor, Archibald-Henville, Tully; Dunne, Harley, Noble, Sercombe; O'Flynn, Cureton.
Despite City enjoying the best of the opening exchanges, it was Tranmere who were the first to test the keeper with Hamer tipping a good looking 30 yard free kick from John Welsh around the post for a corner inside 60 seconds. In the fifth minute O'Flynn flicked the ball on for Cureton to chase before lifting the ball across to Harley lurking near the far post. Harley cut back in and hoisted the ball towards the opposite top corner, but it just beat the woodwork and sailed harmlessly over.
Five minutes later Golbourne and Sercombe exchanged neat passes down the left before Golbourne crossed to Harley but his 10 yard effort was straight at the keeper. Noble then knocked the ball down to Cureton who's first time shot on the turn from the edge of the box had the keeper scrambling to turn the ball away, but then all of City's good work was undone on the quarter hour with a moment of skill from Zoumana Bakayogo. Showing an unbelievable burst of speed, he left the City defence for dead sprinting past players with ease down the left channel before arriving at the corner of the box to drill a low shot across a stumbling Hamer and into the far corner for a fine goal putting Tranmere 1-0 up. And it has to be said, somewhat against the run of play.
Tranmere did fashion another chance though midway through the half when Simon Miotto turned and shot from 25 yards that had Hamer scrambling across his goal to save. For the remainder of the half Tranmere wasted time as much as the referee would allow them to get away with - which was an awful lot - and City passed and passed and passed. And then passed, and passed again. Then they lost the ball, recovered it and began passing all over again. Despite the incessant time wasting, the referee, like the crowd, was obviously bored with the lack of action so only allowed a couple of minutes stoppage time before bringing the half to a close.
During the break manager Tisdale replaced O'Flynn and Dunne with Nardiello and Logan, reverting from a 4-4-2 - where the four midfielders were in a diamond with Harley playing forward of Noble - to a more attacking 4-3-3. Two minutes in and City had their first chance of the half when Noble's free kick was nodded back across goal by Taylor then flicked on further by Troy before Cureton plonked a weak header straight into the keeper's arms at the back post.
In the sixth minute Sercombe had an opening from a corner, but he screwed his shot high over the bar onto the Bank from just outside the box, then ten minutes later Harley hit a powder puff free kick at the keeper from a similar sort of range.
A minute later City were level. After a concerted bit of pressure Harley's shot cannoned back off Cureton before Sercombe picked up the pieces to crash in a bombshell of his own. A combination of keeper and defender managed to block the shot, but Sercombe followed his own rebound to smash home gleefully via the near post from a couple of yards out to make it 1-1 and game on.
Or so we though. Tranmere were content to soak up pressure, City were content to pass and pass and pass and pass. Then take an extra touch instead of crossing, then pass and pass and pass and pass until someone lamped a loose ball to the Tranmere keeper. He in turn clonked the ball up to the City central defenders who gave it to Noble and the whole process started all over again.
Until three minutes from time when a lightning quick City move saw Golbourne feed the ball into Harley who drilled a low first time cross towards the penalty area where Logan was on hand to flash a square drive at the middle of the goal that the keeper somehow blocked with his legs. City passed it about a bit more after that, and Tranmere blocked and cleared until the referee had had enough and called time on proceedings a couple of minutes after the 90.
So point gained or two lost? On current form definitely a point gained - four home defeats on the spin will have you taking anything that's on offer, however today it really should have been all three. Aside from their goal Tranmere had virtually no other attempts on goal, mind you City hardly racked up the numbers themselves, instead preferring to pass the ball across the pitch and back again taking extra touch after extra touch instead of taking numerous opportunities to get the ball into the box.
But, if you're looking for positives, Troy had an outstanding game at the back containing giant striker Enoch Showunmi, Hamer looked far less jittery than he did on Saturday and by and large everyone looked pretty comfortable on the ball. Too comfortable at times it has to be said, but after that run then the main thing was avoiding yet another defeat, which in the end we did without too much drama.
And so we go to Peterborough on Saturday hoping to continue another sequence, however this time the right sort of sequence as we go for a seventh consecutive away game undefeated. Then we're back here again next Tuesday as the games continue to come thick and fast with the visit of high flying Bournemouth. Can we avoid five defeats in six home games - it'll be a tough ask, but this team is nothing if not full of surprises so do your best to come along and cheer the lads on, you just know it'll be worth it in the end.