ADVOCATES of a winter break in English football might have reassessed their position after watching Accrington Stanley’s defeat at Tranmere Rovers.

The ring rusty Reds went down 3-0 at Prenton Park having played just once since Boxing Day and missed their opportunity to close in on the play-offs.

Another game brought another new goalkeeper with Arsenal loanee Matt Macey making his Football League debut alongside full back Seamus Conneely.


Stanley enjoyed possession from the off but it was the home side, who started the day second bottom of League Two, who struck an early blow.

Conneely was caught on the ball by Danny Holmes down the Stanley left and he fed Shamir Fenelon who crossed low for Rory Donnelly inside the area. The striker made no mistake, stroking the ball past Macey to make it 1-0 to the hosts.

The closest John Coleman’s side came to a response was a low strike by Shay McCartan which was comfortable for Owain Fon Williams. If that was an encouraging sign, then events of the next few minutes made the job doubly hard.

Ten minutes after the first goal Rovers had a second; this time Rob Taylor galloped down the Stanley right and sent in a centre. Rob Atkinson could only partially clear straight to Fenelon and the youngster lashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

A disastrous start could still be put right by a quick response but attacking prowess and Lady Luck also deserted the Reds.

When McCartan tumbled under a challenge inside the area the whole ground expected a Stanley penalty. Although referee Gary Sutton did blow the whistle he awarded a free kick inches from the white line of the box, which Kal Naismith promptly fired into the wall.

Even a kamikaze backpass from defender Michael Ihiekwe’s wasn’t capitalised on – Sean Maguire was presented with the ball inside the area but struck his shot straight at Fon Williams.

With much work to do for the visitors the second half began in ominous fashion. Despite full backs Conneely and Dean Winnard switching sides, Tranmere’s wide players continued to cause problems, with Tom Aldred and Conneely forced to take evasive action to clear crosses early on.

It only took 12 second half minutes for Tranmere to add their third goal. Donnelly exchanged passes with former Red Kayode Odejayi on the edge of the box and Donnelly made no mistake, slipping the ball into the bottom right corner.

If the defending was below par then the attacking was no better as Naismith could only find Fon Williams from close range following Atkinson’s knock down before the same player was threaded in on goal and smashed over the top.

McCartan looked the man most likely for Stanley but when he hit the post two minutes from the end it seemed clear that there would be no goals for Coleman’s men. Both goalkeepers made great late saves, with Macey superbly denying substitute Jake Kirby and Fon Williams thwarting James Gray’s stoppage time header, but the damage was done early on for a Stanley side that never really got going.