IT wasn’t a happy birthday for Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman, who turned 49 yesterday.
It was perhaps inevitable that Ash Taylor would spoil the party.
The defender had a goal chalked off last week when a serious injury to Tom Bender forced this Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round tie to be abandoned with Tranmere Rovers leading 2-1.
But his latest effort was made to count this time as Taylor’s 39th minute effort was enough to separate the two teams.
With Bender now thankfully on the mend after being diagnosed with severe concussion at Royal Blackburn hospital last Tuesday night, Coleman can at least take further comfort from the fact his players competed well against League One opposition.
But he hates to lose any contest, and will be scratching his head for some time as to how Stanley missed out on an 80th minute equaliser.
Ian Craney stung Owain Fon-Williams’ hands with a firm free kick. The keeper’s parry was then headed off the line and the ball came out for Kurtis Guthrie his night was summed up when he headed against the crossbar.
The striker had the bulk of Stanley’s chances in this re-match, but somehow he is still awaiting his first goal for the Reds.
Tranmere were, however, almost instantly regretting their decision not to take up Coleman’s offer of a goal headstart when Danny Coid’s speculative shot from outside the area took an awkward deflection and threatened to sneak into the bottom right corner, only for Fon-Williams to get down to it.
It took a while for Rovers to settle after that sixth minute taster, but Dave Buchanan eventually responded with a driving run and shot which came off Dean Winnard for a corner.
In a frantic five-minute spell, Lucas Akins spun away from McIntyre but had penalty appeals waved away when the left back caught up with him and he went down cheaply in the box. Winnard then got in the way of an Akins drive, with Coid hooking the rebound clear.
There were further chances for Tranmere, but not before Stanley got a sight of goal.
Taylor proved more deadly at the opposite end to break the deadlock six minutes before half-time. The ball pinballed around the area after Taylor’s initial shot was blocked by Luke Joyce, but then the defender drilled in the rebound.
Stanley pushed for an equaliser and thought their chance had come when Guthrie intercepted Michael Kay’s backpass but found himself at too awkward an angle to shoot.
Guthrie had told housemate Bender that he would score a goal for the stricken defender, and almost came up with the goods two minutes into the second half, but bent a shot wide of the near post.
Tranmere looked comfortable on their slender lead, but with 20 minutes to go Murphy found Guthrie with a long ball into the box.
The striker rose well but after skimming the top of his head the ball dropped the wrong side of the left post.
It wasn’t to be Stanley’s or birthday boy Coleman’s night.