Football: Mystifying win for Tranmere

Tranmere Rovers 3 Norwich City 1
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The Independent Online
After ridiculously late postponements in recent weeks, a match that went ahead when it should not. In farcically foggy conditions last night, Tranmere improved their promotion hopes, although the supporters will be mystified how they did it.

Not because they played badly, but because they could not be seen. Maybe the game slipped inside the Football League's criteria for playing on, but no consideration was shown to spectators who paid a lot to watch very little.

They knew the result because the electric scoreboard told them but they could not use the evidence of their own eyes. For their benefit, Tranmere's scorers were Paul Cook (twice) and Ian Moore. Darren Eadie got the Norwich goal - we think.

The arrival of the fog was sudden and dramatic. Twenty minutes before the kick-off a mist hung in the air but the conditions were playable. As the players took the pitch, however, the far side had disappeared and spectators at either end had no chance of seeing the opposite goal.

Which came as blessed relief to Tranmere's supporters in the Bebington Kop End who would have missed Norwich's goal, which arrived after 85 seconds. The home team had adopted the unusual ploy of using full-back Tony Thomas and Gary Stevens on the wrong flanks and the tactic backfired. Shaun Carey played a long ball down the left, Eadie outran Thomas and beat Eric Nixon at the near post with his left foot.

The fog will ensure the Tranmere players will be spared examining that goal on video and, similarly, Norwich will miss the post-mortem on the equaliser that arrived eight minutes later. The lack of TV evidence is a shame, because at least half the ground did not have a clue how it came about. Pat Nevin crossed from the right and the ball disappeared into the mist before it reappeared long enough for Paul Cook to score from 12 yards. An indication of the conditions was that the Tranmere announcer got the identity of the Tranmere scorer wrong.

Radio 5 Live abandoned the match as its commentary to find a game where meaningful action could be described. Their commentator, Ron Jones, said: "It's the best game I've never seen."

Which is exactly how you would have to categorise Tranmere's second and third goals that arrived seconds before half-time and 20 minutes after the interval. Moore got a header and Cook scored with a left-foot volley, according to those who saw it. The rest of us had to take their word for it.

Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Nixon; Thomas, McGreal, Thorn, Stevens; Nevin (Rodgers, 61), Brannan (G Jones, 56), Irons, Cook (Bonetti, 79); Moore, Branch.

Norwich City (3-5-2): Gunn; Newman, Jackson, Scott; Adams, Rocastle, Milligan, Carey (Ottosson, 10), Sutch; Fleck (Forbes, 80), Eadie. Substitutes not used: Mills.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).