Hume allows Tranmere glimpse of brighter future

Tranmere Rovers 2 Swansea City 1
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The Independent Football

No one could accuse Prenton Park of not respecting history. The ground vibrated to the heavy sound of Deep Purple and Free and in the cosy Tranmere Suite a resplendent board listed memorable matches in the ground's history.

The stewards were from a bygone age, refusing good money because the programmes were "for people who should come through this entrance", while in the back of the main stand one family consumed a full-blown picnic to recall days when it was not considered a football sin to consume a prawn sandwich. After a game at Tranmere Rovers you wonder why the pictures are not in black and white on Match Of The Day.

Which is a surprise because the present is in blooming colour in Birkenhead. When Brian Little arrived at Tranmere in October they were in the bottom four of the Second Division and they are now enjoying a run that has included only one defeat in 16 matches. Not to mention their appearance in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the third time in five seasons.

"It rounds off four months of hard work," Little said, although he probably had visions of a weekend of gloomy reflection when Swansea City, from the Third Division, took the lead after 15 minutes and all the ingredients of a shock were in place. Not least the identity of the scorer.

Andy Robinson was born in Birkenhead and even turned out for Tranmere as a substitute in the LDV Vans Trophy last season, so when he slid in to meet Leon Britton's cross it appeared that the past would not only be enjoyed at Prenton Park but it would be coming back to haunt.

Which was to disregard the power of the pen at Prenton Park. Ryan Taylor had scored three from the spot in Tranmere's four previous home games so when Eugene Dadi collapsed in the 23rd minute in the midst of a sandwich between Izzy Iriekpen and another Rovers old boy, Michael Howard, precedent suggested a penalty would be awarded. Taylor duly sent Roger Freestone the wrong way.

From that point Tranmere were always the more likely winners but it required a spectacular goal from Iain Hume to get them into the last eight. The Canadian turned Howard with a deft spin and then unleashed a left-foot shot that Little described as being "worthy of winning any cup match". The Cup clearly brings the best out of Hume because it matched a similarly spectacular winner against Bolton in the third round.

"It was a marvellous goal," Little said, "and we needed something like that because it was a hard, close game. It was one of Iain's best, but everyone here knows it was no fluke. They're the type of goals he loves to score."

Swansea would have been happy with any type of equaliser but the nearest they came to it was when the otherwise anonymous Lee Trundle fired across the goal with three minutes left.

By then Swansea had lost their centre-back Alan Tate after he collided with Taylor, although even the Tranmere players seemed mystified why that deserved a red card while Robinson's flying lunge two minutes earlier had been greeted with only a caution.

An appeal is likely to be forthcoming from Swansea; for Tranmere there is the wealth of possibilities thrown up by today's draw. Never mind the past, the near future is bright too.

Goals: Robinson (15) 0-1; Taylor pen (23) 1-1; Hume (58) 2-1.

Tranmere Rovers (3-5-2): Achterberg; Connelly, Allen, Jones; Taylor, Harrison, Navarro (Nicholson, 81), Jennings (Linwood, h-t), Roberts; Dadi (Hay, 84), Hume. Substitutes not used: Howarth (gk), Beresford.

Swansea City (4-5-1): Freestone; Byrne (O'Leary, 89), Tate, Iriekpen, Howard (Thomas, 81); Maylett, Britton, Martinez, Robinson, Coates (Nugent, 64); Trundle. Substitutes not used: Murphy (gk), Durkan.

Referee: R Beeby (Northants).

Bookings: Tranmere: Connelly; Swansea: Trundle, Robinson. Sending-off: Swansea: Tate 83.

Man of the match: Britton.

Attendance: 12,215.

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