Football: Aldridge sets example

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The Independent Online
Tranmere Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Aldridge 31, 47, Irons 39

Millwall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Moralee 72, Kerr 89

Attendance: 9,141

IF MILLWALL are disappointed for the second successive season in their quest for a place in the play-offs, they will reflect ruefully on Jamie Moralee's inability to score what would have been a memorable hat-trick within the space of two minutes.

Tranmere appeared to be coasting when Moralee's glancing header gave the Lions renewed heart with 20 minutes remaining. Within 60 seconds the Tranmere goalkeeper, Eric Nixon, had to fling himself into the path of Moralee's crisply hit shot from 10 yards and moments later he rounded Nixon only to pull his shot across the face of the goal.

Golden opportunities like that come in threes as infrequently as buses, and with the queue for the First Division play-off places stretching halfway down the street, Millwall will be hoping they have not missed the bus once again.

Fortunately for Tranmere, John Aldridge is an experienced traveller and his two goals took his tally to 26. The first, after 31 minutes, turned the tide when the game seemed to be flowing Millwall's way.

Millwall took the play to Tranmere, whose close passing game too often played to the strengths of a quick-tackling Millwall back four combatively marshalled by Gerry Hurlock.

Moralee and Clive Allen had both missed good chances before the unmarked Aldridge met Tony Thomas's cross with a firm header from six yards. Pat Nevin, another of the Tranmere manager John King's shrewd signings from the more fashionable side of the Mersey, then embarked on a twisting run into the box which ended with Kenny Irons sliding the ball past Kasey Keller.

Ged Brannan dispossessed that other former Liverpudlian Pat Van Den Hauwe two minutes into the second half and set up Aldridge for a simple tap in. And the former Liverpool striker twice squandered the chance of a hat-trick himself with a misplaced overhead kick and a tame header.

But in the end Moralee's misses proved the more significant, especially when the substitute John Kerr's 12-yard drive went in off the post with almost the last kick of the game.