Football: Lions silenced by referee

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Millwall . . . . . .0

Tranmere Rovers. . .0

AS FAR as Millwall were concerned their home was the Den of iniquity yesterday. Substitute John Kerr appeared to have brought a match of mounting excitement to a fitting climax when he scrambled the ball over the line in the 86th minute. But to the disbelief of the home side the referee, Dermott Gallagher, spotted an offside amidst the tempest and left the Lions ruing a performance strong on commitment but glaringly short of the wit needed to break down a well-organised defence.

One of these teams - but probably only one - will make the promotion play-offs. Had it stood, Kerr's effort would have given Millwall a five-point cushion over the Merseysiders. Instead Tranmere, with a game in hand, remain very much within range. With John Morrisey suspended and Tommy Coyne attending the birth of his child, it was the Tranmere manager John King's shrewd reorganisation which held the Lions at bay.

After surviving an early scare when John Goodman should have put Millwall ahead, Tranmere soaked up all the home side's pressure and, as the first half drew to a close, Mark Proctor spooned over a free header then Pat Nevin chipped wide as Kasey Keller sprawled at his feet.

The perspicacious might have seen the writing on the wall for Millwall when, in the 58th minute, the Tranmere keeper Eric Nixon did wonders to keep out Malcolm Allen's free-kick and Jamie Moralee hammered the rebound against one of his own players. The home side grew increasingly anxious and twice more left Nevin in the clear. On the first occasion he was upended by Tony McCarthy and on the second squandered the afternoon's best opportunity, shooting wide of the far post after being set up by Chris Malkin.

The Millwall manager, Mick McCarthy, strove in vain to find printable words capable of expressing his disappointment at Kerr's disallowed goal.

Millwall: K Keller; K Cunningham, A Dawes, A May (A Roberts, 56 min), T McCarthy, G McGuire, A Rae, J Goodman (J Kerr, 74 min), M Allen, J Moralee, P Barber. Manager: M McCarthy.

Tranmere Rovers: E Nixon; D Higgins, G Brannan, K Irons, M Proctor, S Vickers, S Mungall, D Martindale, C Malkin, P Nevin, T Thomas. Subs not used: M Hughes, N McNab. Manager: J King.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).