Walsall Web Fans looks back at a Barclays Third Division game between Tranmere Rovers and Walsall at Prenton Park on November 10th, 1989. Tranmere were enjoying a decent season and occupied fifth place going into the game whilst Walsall were 20th and having a poor time following on from their relegation from the Second Division in May taking just one point from their previous five league games and finding goals so hard to come by.
The Saddlers had boosted their squad by signing two quality loan signings-Sunderland midfielder Paul Lemon and Sheffield United’s fullback Chris Wilder. Manager John Barnwell said in the press of the need for the signings, “We cannot go on playing the way we are and expect to survive in this division. There is an uphill task for everyone at the club.”
This was a Friday evening game on The Wirral and by the afternoon there was so much water on the pitch that it was touch and go as to if the game could actually take place so the local fire brigade were enlisted to pump the water away as the pitch was waterlogged following a deluge. It was deemed just about playable but the game was played in horrendous conditions which were coped with admirably by both sets of teams.
Walsall received a blow in the 8th minute when promising young full back Steve O’Hara suffered a kick on the calf and was replaced by substitute Andy Saville. Seconds later Rovers took the lead thanks to a terrific goal from Mark Mc Carrick who let fly from fully 25 yards, giving Ron Green no chance.This goal inspired Tranmere who dominated most of the remaining first half and should have added to their total. John Morrissey in particular wasted two great chances to punish Walsall and The Saddlers were happy to go in at the interval just a goal behind.
Walsall played a lot better in the second half and used the howling wind to their advantage in the second period. Winger Adrian Thorpe was a constant menace on the right and was linking up well with Chris Wilder who looked really impressive. There was a potential setback when Rovers were awarded a dubious penalty in the 68th minute when somehow the referee thought that Saville had tripped Morrissey in the box. A great sense of justice was done when Green made a terrific save to deny Ian Muir from the spot kick. Chris Marsh had come within a whisker of dragging Walsall back into the game with a close effort and they were finally rewarded with a goal on 82 minutes when Stuart Rimmer scored from a penalty after Jim Steel handled Paul Lemon’s cross.
Just when it looked like Walsall would return home with a well earned point up popped Eddie Bishop just two minutes later to crash home from inside the box following a half-cleared free kick. This result sent Tranmere to the top of the table level on points with Bristol City. Walsall remained in 20th position, just a point above Crewe in the drop zone.
The starting line ups that evening were…
TRANMERE ROVERS – Nixon, Higgins, Mc Carrick, Bishop, Hughes, Vickers, Morrissey, Harvey, Steel, Muir, Mungall,
WALSALL – Green, Wilder, O’Hara, Lemon, Forbes, Skipper, Kelly, Rimmer, Bertschin, Marsh, Thorpe.