Report: Tranmere 0-4 Spurs
English League Cup
What a contrast for Teddy Sheringham.
From 67,000 at Old Trafford on a glorious Saturday to 12,386 at Prenton Park on a cold Tuesday night. From World Cup to Worthington Cup. From national hero to villain — well, for three-quarters of the ground, anyway.
Like Saturday against Greece, when he scored within 13 seconds of entering the arena as a substitute before being fouled for that free-kick, Teddy was centre of attention again.
This time it revolved around a penalty awarded, at first sight somewhat controversially, in the first half.
Twenty minutes had gone when Teddy latched onto Ben Thatcher’s clever pass. Mickey Mellon charged in, Teddy went over, referee Philip Dowd pointed to the spot. Teddy made no mistake and the boos started. In fact, they were still going in injury time.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Mr Dowd hardly endeared himself to the Rovers’ faithful in that first half.
He booked Gus Poyet after 17 minutes for getting out of the way of Steve Yates’ full-length lunge — the card dished out for diving when, of course, the sporting thing would be to stand there and get your leg snapped in two - and then booked four home players in the space of 10 minutes.
Mellon received two of those yellows and was sent off after 31 minutes for first checking Mauricio Taricco and then leaving Poyet writhing in agony after a reckless tackle.
It took another nine minutes for Darren Anderton to double the lead, superbly guiding home a left-foot shot from 18 yards after Teddy, who else, had cushioned Taricco’s cross into his path.
Other highlights of the first half included Teddy’s 25-yard free-kick saved well at full stretch by Joe Murphy, who also held onto Thatcher’s thunderbolt from 30 yards while at the other end, Flynn’s angled header agonisingly drifted across goal.
You sensed a third goal would be enough and after Davies dragged an effort wide two minutes into the second half, it duly arrived a minute later.
And a fine goal it was. Taricco threaded a pass through to Steffen Freund on the overlap and his first-time cross was met by Poyet, who slid in to net via Murphy’s hand and the post.
Rovers refused to let heads drop but we kept the ball for long periods and the 10 men, leg-weary at chasing the ball, struggled to create chances.
Naturally, with the game stretched and Rovers trying to get forward, chances were created at the other end as brave blocks denied both Freund and substitute Sergei Rebrov while Taricco’s first-time cross was cut out with Rebrov setting himself for a tap in.
Yates raised home hopes briefly with a free-kick just over after 77 minutes but it was all over three minutes later. Great movement and slick passing around the box ended with Sheringham’s pass dummied by Sherwood and Rebrov drilling into the corner from close range.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been right for everything to go right. Sherwood, back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, came on after 71 minutes, was booked for a tackle a minute later and then, with just four minutes left and the game all-but over, Mr Dowd decided to show a second yellow and therefore send the midfielder off for a nothing handball — if anything it looked accidental — as Rovers broke forward. And he still had time to book Anderton in injury time!
Overall though no cup shocks, no comebacks from 3-0 down and apart from Sherwood’s cards, job done.