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MATCH REPORT | Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Swindon Town

Swindon’s final fixture before Christmas saw them travel up north to the Wirral to face Tranmere Rovers.

The Superwhites were languishing just outside the relegation zone but could still prove a tough test for Michael Flynn's men.

First Half

Swindon needed an answer to their poor run of results, and the game nearly started in the worst possible way. Harrison Minturn's overhit backpass went under the foot of Murphy Mahoney, who had to scramble to keep the ball out of his goal just three minutes into the game.
 
Tranmere knew a Swindon side with no confidence was there for the taking and pushed hard in the opening 15 minutes to open the scoring.
 
Connor Jennings tried an audacious chip that cleared Mahoney but fell wide. Then some lovely play by Rob Apter earned him space to try from the edge of the area, but Mahoney collected the ball comfortably.
 
Town had not created any chances in the opening 20 minutes, but they would only need one chance. Dan Kemp carried the ball across the pitch before finding Remeao Hutton. The defender would find Kemp again in the area, who then fired home at the near post, giving Swindon a 1-0 lead.
 
The hosts struggled to respond after going a goal down, trying to attack from the wings but finding no luck. George McEachran had been running the midfield and provided a big chance; he slipped Kemp through on goal, but the Tranmere keeper pushed away Kemp’s snapshot.
 
McEachran came inches away from adding a second goal to Swindon's lead. A strong run from the midfield saw him almost round Luke McGee, but the keeper did just enough to push the ball away.
 
As the game approached halftime, Tranmere had multiple chances to equalise. Apter played in Regan Hendry, who cut back and shot, but Liam Kinsella was on hand to block his effort. Minturn and Sadiou Kahn both blocked follow-up chances before Kahn won a free kick for sticking his head in where it hurt.
 
Swindon managed to weather the storm and keep their 1-0 lead at the break.

Second Half

Swindon got the second half underway and within a minute found themselves on the back foot. Apter had been causing issues all game, and his latest foray towards the Swindon goal saw him cutting inside of Tyrese Shade before firing over.

Shade provided a brilliant chance up the other end of the pitch, but his ball across the face of the goal was missing that vital touch to make it 2-0.
 
Moments later, Tranmere equalised. Khan slipped after getting the ball and allowed Jennings to power through and shoot. The effort was parried out by Mahoney, but only as far as Morris, who then tapped home, making it 1-1.
Charlie Austin almost restored Swindon's lead just seconds later; he found himself free in the middle and forced a brilliant save from McGee to keep the scores level. Tranmere had the next chance. This time Mahoney pulled off a strong save on the post to deny Hawkes, who had only just come on.
 
Hawkes was causing massive problems, and once again Mahoney was called into action. The forward tried curling a shot around him, but Mahoney stood firm and blocked it.
 
The second half had been very back and forth; Hutton created the latest chance, finding Austin at the far post, but the forward header was easily saved by McGee.
 
It became a nightmare before Christmas. In the 70th minute, Mahoney, who had been the standout for the visitors, went down holding his hamstring. The keeper had to be subbed off, with Lewis Ward coming on in place.
Just a minute later, Tranmere had the lead, and a deflected shot fell at the far post, where Tom Davies was waiting to make it 2-1 to the hosts.
 
With 82 minutes on the clock, the Swindon players were up in arms, screaming for a penalty. Jake Young’s strike clearly struck a Tranmere player's arm. The Swindon men in the box proceeded to charge down the referee, and Austin saw himself being booked for it.
 
With just four minutes to go, Swindon thought they had levelled. Kemp’s ball in behind was converted by Shade, but the flag was already up, denying Town the equaliser.
 
Tranmere were masters of holding the ball in the corner, and with the six minutes added, all Swindon managed to do was get Hutton in the book for throwing a player down off the ball.
 
The full-time whistle would come, and Swindon would suffer a third successive loss in the league and leave the travelling Swindon fans with nothing but coal for Christmas.

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