Football: Morrissey's sweet music

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The Independent Online
Tranmere Rovers. .1

Millwall. . . . . 1

THE MUSIC that thumped out of the visitors' dressing room on Saturday was, most appropriately, 'Rave Nation'.

If the names of Tranmere Rovers and Millwall, duellists at the top of the First Division, may look incongruous if either is promoted to the Premier League, the style of their football will not. Saturday's draw was throbbing with an enthusiasm to capture the appreciation of any supporter in the land.

Tranmere's preferred supply line this year has been down the flanks through Pat Nevin and John Morrissey and across to the predatory John Aldridge.

While Aldridge has been a haunting spectre for defenders for many seasons now, it is the sight of Morrissey tricking his way down the left wing which is even more ghostly, a reminder of the years when his father Johnny cultivated a similar furrow at nearby Goodison Park.

It was Morrissey who provided Tranmere's lead on Saturday, though the goal was originally credited to the attendant Aldridge. 'If I'd been a little bit closer I might have claimed it,' the striker said.

Tranmere almost doubled their score just before the interval when Ian Muir hit the foot of a post. Muir's overhead flick to put himself in the clear was so outrageous that the backdrop should have been more Sugar Loaf Mountain than Stanlow oil refinery.

While the visiting fans to the Wirral continued to assert that no one likes them, the very opposite must be true of their team. The meshing of midfield and attack would be more understandable if this was a side of greybeards. But men like Andy Roberts, Jamie Moralee and Jon Goodman, who scored the equaliser, have many years ahead of them.

After emerging from the dance music sounds of his team's quarters, Mick McCarthy, the Lions' manager, said: 'The performance was as pleasing as the point.'

Spot on. Millwall replicated the musical build-up of their fellow Londoners, Wimbledon, but, mercifully for watchers, left the similarities at that.

McCarthy believes Newcastle, who lead the divsion by 12 points, are virtually guaranteed a place in the top flight next season. 'I think they're better than the rest of us,' he said. 'They're a passionate bunch up there, 26,000 people screaming and roaring.'

The division's pressing point now, he considers, is who will accompany the Geordies upwards.

Tranmere further press their claims today when they run down the tunnel at Barnsley, coincidentally McCarthy's home town.

By a geographical quirk this is the nearest thing Rovers have to a derby game this year. Next season the fixture may involve a shorter journey down another tunnel, the one under the Mersey estuary.

Goals: Morrissey (36) 1-0; Goodman (48) 1-1.

Tranmere Rovers: Nixon; Higgins, Brannan, Irons (Martindale, 71), Mungall, Hughes, Morrissey, Aldridge, Muir, McNab, Nevin. Substitute not used: McGreal.

Millwall: Keller; Cunningham, Dawes, May, Cooper, Stevens, Roberts, Moralee, Bogie (Rae, 77), Goodman (Allen, 87), Barber.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).