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Jackson targeting final third improvement

9 September 2020

Tranmere Rovers manager Mike Jackson acknowledged that his side must develop a ruthless streak in front of goal following a penalty shootout defeat to Port Vale in the EFL Trophy. 

With the game goalless after 90 minutes played at Vale Park, spot-kicks soon followed. Ollie Banks, Kieron Morris and Lee O’Connor were all successful from 12-yards, though Danny Walker-Rice’s effort was saved to hand the home side an extra point in the EFL Trophy Group D standings. 

Clear-cut chances were at a premium during regular time, though Rovers came close on two occasions to breaking the deadlock. 

“Their keeper has made a great save on one and Paul Lewis should score his chance,” reflected Jackson on his side’s opportunities. 

He continued: “We were a little bit short on bodies tonight with the injuries we’ve got and we’re looking after a few players bearing in mind what’s going on, on Saturday against Mansfield. I thought the group worked really hard, a couple of people had to play out of position and it’s been a good workout for us.  

“If we go from the start of the game, the first-half was quite even. When we go into the second-half, we didn’t start brilliantly, but it then swung around to us a little bit more after that. We’ve had two good chances at the end and then it has gone to penalties. You’ve got a chance, again, to win it on penalties and it wasn’t to be. If you get the penalties, you’ve got to take them. The keeper has made his saves but, for us, defensively we kept a clean sheet and looked solid. We need more now moving forward in the final third: the last pass, the last touch; that is just lacking.”  

Tuesday night’s cup contest marked Jackson’s second competitive game in charge of the Club, and the 46-year-old is pleased with the progress he has witnessed ahead of Tranmere’s opening Sky Bet League Two showdown with Mansfield Town this weekend. 

He said: “We’re happy with that because it has topped up our fitness levels, but you want to win these games. They have both been tight games [Harrogate & Port Vale] and have come down to penalties. We’ve come out on the wrong end, when we could have won them. It’s fine lines: on another day, you come away with two so-called wins. 

“They’re all going to be difficult games. There will be no easy game, you’ve seen that tonight. The lads are looking forward to it [Saturday], it’s the first league game of the season and that’s what it’s all about and what you want to take part in. We just need to make sure we don’t pick up any more injuries in between now and then and make sure we’ve got the squad ready to go.” 


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