Tranmere Rovers 1 v 2 Bradford City (Skybet League One)
Bradford City arrived at Prenton Park for the final game of the season knowing that victory over Tranmere Rovers would see their hosts relegated into the fourth tier of English football for the first time in thirteen years. Tranmere’s biggest crowd of the season came out to cheer the team on, in the hope that it would keep their team in Skybet League One.
Rovers started the stronger of the two sides and they took the lead after seven minutes when Nathan Doyle was dispossessed just outside the right-hand side of the Bradford penalty area by Matthew Pennington, who’s cross come shot was palmed into his own goal by Jon McLaughlin to give Tranmere a 1-0 lead.
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro then fired a low drive from outside the area that narrowly went past Jon McLaughlin’s far post on seventeen minutes. Tranmere continued to press and two minutes later Liam Ridehalgh sent in a deep first-time cross that Max Power headed towards goal from just inside the box; the ball looked to be dropping into the far corner until McLaughlin thrusts out a hand to tip the header around the post.
On twenty-four minutes tempers boiled over and the two benches clashed after Ryan Lowe appeared to stamp on Rory McArdle after the defender had made a slide tackle. Bradford goalkeeping coach Lee Butler then pushed Lowe which started a touchline flare up between both management teams.
The turning point of the game came on the half hour, when Tranmere’s Junior Brown was shown a straight red card for a two footed lunge on Nathan Doyle just inside the City half, Doyle was down for about five minutes receiving treatment from physio Matt Barrass before he was able to continue.
In the fourth minute of time added on at the end of the first-half, Stephen Darby clipped the ball to the edge of the area where Jon Stead turned and hit the ball on the half-volley; his effort whistled just wide of Mooney’s goal to give Tranmere a half-time 1-0 lead.
Bradford had the first chance of the second half, Mark Yeates had an excellent run before playing the ball to Adam Drury who got to the byline before floating an excellent cross to the back post were Jon Stead volleyed his effort just over the Tranmere crossbar.
On fifty-four minutes Stephen Darby hung a cross up to the back post where Adam Drury struck an excellent half-volley which went over the Tranmere crossbar.
Bradford then had three chances to draw level, the first fell to Jon Stead who headed wide following a Gary Jones free-kick, the second effort fell to Kyel Bennett who had an excellent run and shot, but his shot went wide of Mooney’s goal. The final chance again fell to Aaron McLean on seventy-one minutes after Jon Stead had got clear of Ian Goodison in the area to cut the ball back to McLean but his effort was well blocked.
Tranmere could have then won the game on seventy-four minutes, when Power put Ryan Lowe free inside the Bradford penalty area behind the back four. However Rory McArdle slid in to make an excellent challenge and put the ball out for a corner, despite the appeals for a penalty from the Tranmere fans.
On eighty-one minutes following a cross from James Meredith, the ball was cleared to the edge of the Tranmere area where Jon Stead hit a right-foot shot that took a deflection to wrong footed Mooney and bring Bradford level.
Just five minutes later, Kyel Bennett found Aaron McLean with an excellent pass and McLean made no mistake from the edge of the box firing a shot across the area into the bottom corner of the goal to put Bradford 2-0 in the lead.
Tranmere had an excellent effort in injury time when Matthew Pennington hit a shot from the edge of the area which was tipped over the bar by Jon McLaughlin for a corner. The corner came to nothing and at full-time Tranmere Rovers were relegated into Skybet League Two.
Speaking after the match manager Phil Parkinson said, “We are happy to finish in the top half of the table in our first season back at this level, it’s a tremendous achievement for everyone involved with the club. My commiserations go to Tranmere Rovers because it is a terrific football club.
For us we have to look to progress next season, It will be a challenging summer to get a squad in place that will enable us to progress, we want to keep our best players and sit down with those who are out of contract and I am confident we will improve the squad for next season.”
Phil Parkinson will have to re-build his squad for next season as all but three players are out of contract including Jon McLaughlin, Stephen Darby, James Meredith, Rory McArdle, Gary Jones, Nathan Doyle, Kyel Reid, Gary Thompson, Jason Kennedy, Andy Gray, Carl McHugh, Matthew Bates, Louis Swain, whilst a number of loan players will be returning to their parent clubs like Adam Reach, Kyle Bennett, Jon Stead, Chris Atkinson, Aaron Jameson and Matthew Dolan.
Bradford City – McLaughlin, Darby, Drury, McArdle, Davies, Jones, Doyle, Yeates, Thompson, Stead, McLean (Subs) Jameson, Meredith, Dolan, McHugh, De Vita, McBurnie, Bennett
Tranmere Rovers – Mooney, Taylor, Goodison, Lowe, Power, Jennings, Brown, Koumas, Ridehalgh, Akpa Akpro, Pennington (Subs) Ramsbottom, Holmes, Baggie, Rowe, Kirby, Stockton, Arthurworrey
Goals – (Tranmere Rovers) Pennington (7), (Bradford City) Stead (81), McLean (87)
Attendance – 9,598