Tranmere Rovers manager Mike Jackson has identified the areas in which Rovers must improve as he took charge of his first competitive match.
Summer signing James Vaughan struck the opening goal of the Jackson era, but Rovers were pegged back by Harrogate Town and later fell to an 8-7 defeat on penalties in their Carabao Cup first-round tie.
New recruits Lee O’Connor, Calum MacDonald, Otis Khan, Jay Spearing and Vaughan were all in action at Prenton Park.
Assessing his team’s performance and the outcome of the contest, Jackson said: “We’re disappointed to lose the game. In the first-half, I thought it was a bit of a stalemate and a bit of a match-up. They had a few crosses in our box, we weren’t good enough or smart enough with the ball. We kept turning it over. It was one of those games where Harrogate play in a certain style, which is hard to play against: there are a lot of knock-downs and second balls. I don’t think we got on top of that as well as we should have done.
“At the start of the second-half, we started it well, grew into it more and the frontmen had more of an effect on the game. We then got the goal and you’re looking to try and build on that and move forward, but I don’t think we went again. I still think there are fitness levels that aren’t where they should be, just due to the sheer amount of time they’ve had out. That’s something we know will get better and improve.
“We gave a sloppy goal away, from our point of view. It’s a big diagonal ball, a knock-down and then a shot from the edge of the box, which we should see out easily. We know where we need to improve and we know where we’re at,” continued the Tranmere boss.
“We’re all disappointed because you want to be in the next round. You see yourself one-nil up and you think, ‘Can we see this out and build on it?’ You go to the penalty shootout; Scott makes a great save and you’re thinking, ‘Just stick this one away and we’re in the hat for the next round.’ All of sudden it just turns again and big Manny misses. It’s just one of those things.”
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