Football: Irons on his mettle

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The Independent Online
Tranmere Rovers. .3

Swindon Town . . .1

A SPLENDIDLY taken and perfectly timed hat-trick by Kenny Irons kept Tranmere's promotion hopes shining fitfully after a tense struggle at Prenton Park.

On a night when the wags in the Cowshed carried torches in memory of the power failure at Swindon that sent their season into seemingly terminal decline - and the entertainment included a number of tracks by the Electric Light Orchestra - Irons was the conductor who restored Tranmere's power.

Rovers' early optimism had faded into uncertainty when Irons's first strike levelled matters two minutes after half-time. Pat Nevin conjured the opportunity, screwing an unlikely centre back from the byline for Irons to head home at the far post.

Numbers two and three came from typically fierce shots, the first, fittingly, stemming from a pass right out of the Hoddle drawer but delivered by Rovers' full back, Tony Thomas, which allowed Irons to cut in and unleash a vicious 25-yard drive.

Swindon, more comfortably placed in the play-off zone, should have equalised when Hoddle himself presented Shaun Close with an open goal. The substitute's effort did not live up to his name and Tranmere survived for Irons to embellish a vital win by completing his first hat-trick for the club. Nevin was again the provider, Irons accepting the offering with relish.

Tranmere Rovers: Nixon; Higgins, Brannan, Irons, Proctor (Mungall, 89), Vickers, Morrissey, Martindale, Coyne, Nevin, Thomas. Substitute not used: Branch.

Swindon Town: Digby; Summerbee, Bodin, Hoddle, Calderwood, Taylor, Marwood (Close, 76), MacLaren, Mitchell, Ling (Hazard, 59), White.

Referee: D Allison (Lancaster).

Fan's Eye View, page 36