Tranmere Rovers U18s were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score line as they hosted Rochdale U18s on Saturday morning.
Nathan Corness came closest to scoring for Rovers as his impressive long-range effort was matched by the opposing goalkeeper.
However, Andy Parkinson’s side never really got into the match as they failed to create many chances.
Rochdale started the game on top and were presented with a great chance to open the scoring after just 10 minutes when Ethan Gouldbourne failed to clear the ball, leaving Morgan Moreland with just the keeper to beat but he missed the target.
The away side continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded for their efforts in the 27th minute when Ethan Brierley’s cross found Keaton Mulvey who made it 1-0 with header at the back post.
It was not long before Rochdale doubled their margin. Moreland redeemed himself after his earlier miss as his driven shot from range beat Joe Bickerstaffe via the post.
Tranmere looked to hit back immediately with their best chance of the match but Corness’ effort was tipped just over the bar.
The young whites were unable to grab a goal back in the first half as the Dale continued to dominate and entered the interval with a 2-0 lead.
Rochdale started the second half where they left off in the first period. Peter Thomas put a ball into a dangerous area of the Tranmere box but there was no one there to meet it.
Rovers’ resulting counter-attack created a rare chance and Corness’ half-volley looked to be headed towards the bottom corner and would have halved the deficit but for an outstretched leg which sent the ball out for a corner.
Bickerstaffe was determined to keep the score at 2-0, producing two great saves as he stopped Mulvey’s close-range shot before denying Louie DeZousa on the follow-up.
However, despite the best efforts of the Tranmere number one, Moreland grabbed his second of the match to make it 3-0 with a tap in after Louie Clarkson’s shot was well blocked.
That was not the end of the drama as a late tackle from Jake Burton resulted in an altercation that saw Tranmere’s Joe Blackham receive a red card, however, DeZousa was lucky not to be sent off for Rochdale.
The match rather stagnated following the brawl as there was a lack of notable chances.
Although, the away side could have made it 4-0 in the last minute when two substitutes combined. Harry Lee’s cross came to Adam Cullen, but he was unable to get the ball out of his feet and it was cleared.
Tranmere will look to get back on track when they travel to Port Vale U18s on Saturday 22nd February.
Report by: Daniel Noble