Tranmere Rovers 1 Leeds United 2 (Boo hoo!)

Greenacre (22); Heath (55), Kandol (89)
Attendance : 11,008
Everyone has his or her own personal version of a utopian ideal. Even Thomas More’s original has a lot to be desired: celibacy as a punishment for pre-marital sex, lack of freedom of speech, women as secondary citizens. It reads more like a Conservative Party wet dream.

In my Utopia there are many wonderful aspects. The major change though is that all football matches will be 80 minutes in duration as in Rugby. In this perfect world, Tranmere Rovers would be European Champions and Manchester United would be playing in the Salford Allotments and Parks League (Division 3). Yes, the season started yesterday and it was Groundhog Day as usual.
The once mighty Leeds United were the visitors. This was the first league meeting between the two sides, although we do boast a fine 3-2 victory in the Cup a few years back. (ironically given my comments below, we managed to come back from 2-0 down).
I mentioned to a friend from Turkey recently that we were playing Leeds. Of course, they remember the Euro semi-final of 2002 when Galatasaray reached the final at the expense of the Elland Road team. This match was also marked by the tragic murder of 2 Leeds fans in Istanbul. They had not previously heard of Rovers. Such is the chasm between the clubs in terms of history.
Tranmere managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Leading 1-0 at half-time through a goal by Leeds-supporting Chris Greenacre, they contrived to lose to a goal 2 minutes from time. This is due to the scientific law of Rovers: goals scored in the last 10 minutes are of no use, goals conceded in the last 10 minutes shall cost points. The converse of this law is the Man Utd. Principle.

I think a study should be funded to prove this thesis. It is not that Tranmere do not score goals in the last 10 minutes, but that when they do, the goals do not have any value. For instance, scoring in this period when already winning does not result in a net gain. On the other hand, particularly last year, we conceded late goals when winning by the odd goal or drawing, thus losing points.

There were some positives from the game. We dominated periods of the first half and the two goals were conceded because of poor defending of set pieces. We deserved at least a point.

At least we still have a 12-point head start against Leeds following the decision to uphold the 15-point penalty. A very disappointing day, but it is still early days. We can still do well this season. There were signs in this game which give Leeds fans will be happy as they begin to make inroads into the points deduction. They need around 70 points to avoid relegation. This would be an uphill struggle for many clubs but I expect Leeds to achieve survival comfortably. However, they have little margin for error if they wish to reach the play-offs. Without the sanction, they would have been one of the two favourites for the title so automatic promotion back to The Championship was to be expected. The bookmakers will have done well on bets made before the Football League decision.
In the infamy stakes, the pairing of Ken Bates as Chairman and Dennis Wise as Manager probably gives the uniting of Hindley and Brady a run for their money. However, on the evidence of this match, the couple may have sufficient steel to resolve some of the problems they have inherited and some of their own making.
Ronnie Moore was understandably annoyed at the manner of defeat. Perhaps he is also at a loss as to why we cannot play for 90 minutes and why this has been a Tranmere trait for decades. At least the visiting support in excess of 2000 helped to swell the crowd figure.