Tranmere 1 City 1

City's first night AD - after Deano - was not the Tayl of woe on the Wirral that some had feared.

Gareth Taylor shocked the Bantams with a fortuitous early goal to put Tranmere in front at a blustery Prenton Park.

But local boy Steve Schumacher equalised with a cool finish before half-time and Colin Todd's Windass-less side were well worth their point.

Jermaine Johnson got the nod for the attacking vacancy over namesake Eddie - and showed just why City are loathe to let him go.

The Jamaican showed all the tricks in his armoury to terrorise Tranmere. It was lapped up by the large following of away fans - and won't have gone unnoticed either by the healthy contingent of scouts from other clubs who were there.

JJ was the instigator in the game's first chance after six minutes, which should have produced an opening goal.

Jamaican pal Ian Goodison had been on the phone during the week saying JJ was scared of him. But the big defender's words quickly backfired as Johnson left him for dust before cutting back an inviting cross.

It ran right through to Carlos Logan, who had a golden opportunity to kick off his first start in dream fashion. He had time to bring it under control but instead snatched at a wayward effort.

It was immediate ammunition for those who reckon the goals will dry up without Dean Windass around. And Tranmere did not waste any time in cashing in on the let-off.

Taylor thought he had scored when Calvin Zola's nod down left him with the whole City goal to aim at ten yards out. But he hadn't bargained on Donovan Ricketts, who pulled out a huge hand to somehow bat the ball behind.

But Tranmere's frustration at the wonder save was only temporary. City survived the corner but Zola whipped a bobbling cross back into the box which deflected off Steve Davies and then Taylor and into the bottom corner of the net.

It was a scruffy goal but the home side carried a threat every time they got forward in the early stages, with Chris Shuker giving Ben Parker a real battle on the flank.

Joe Hart carefully got everything behind a side-foot shot from Steve Schumacher before Mark Bower produced a thundering block to stop a Tranmere second after John Mullin had brushed past Parker.

Nathan Doyle bombed upfield on the overlap and picked out Logan, who controlled neatly and nearly found the far corner with a clever effort.

A slight deflection earned City their first corner which came to Bower, back to goal, who swivelled and drilled narrowly wide.

City were picking their game up, with JJ's trickery always likely to prise open the Tranmere back four. And it worked a treat in the 34th minute as the visitors pulled level.

Johnson once again put the frighteners on Goodison, turning him inside and out as he carved into the penalty area. The angle towards goal was tight but he showed awareness to look up and find an unmarked Schumacher to slide home his fifth of the season.

It was the midfielder's second strike in successive away games - and second against Tranmere. The strike also justified the 12 tickets Schumacher had begged and borrowed, including one for dad Tommy who works just up the road.

But Tranmere should have been back in front straight away. A wind-assisted corner was met by Taylor's head and fell invitingly at the feet of centre half Chris McCready - luckily for City, it was a typical defender's finish from six yards out. It was a horrible miss.

The action was hotting up and Hart was quickly off his line to block off JJ. Dave Hibbert then fashioned an opening for himself from the edge of the box but the finish was tame.

There was another tremor for City as half-time approached, with Shane Sherriff eluding Doyle by the corner flag and whipping a ball across the face of goal that was begging to find a white shirt.

Ronnie Moore would have been kicking himself that his Tranmere side did not have their noses in front at the break. But one or two scrapes aside, City had bounced back well after the early setback.

Once again, they were getting plenty of noisy backing from the away fans who kept up the volume as they did at Port Vale a fortnight earlier.

The Tranmere support responded as Davies delivered a dangerous cross that was well cut out by David Wetherall.

Ricketts needed two grabs at a routine cross but Hart looked even more uncomfortable when he bobbled a Bridge-Wilkinson shot, snaffling it up just in time as Hibbert hovered.

Ricketts bravely dived at the feet of Zola, taking a whack in the stomach for his pains, and Taylor smashed the rebound well wide.

Hibbert almost got JJ in with a lovely flick from Craig Bentham's through ball but McCready had enough strength to just about hold off the Jamaican for Hart to gather.

Shuker had been quiet for a while but burst into life with a bending cross which the diving Taylor nodded past the far post.

Chris Greenacre, a former Nicky Law target at City, came on for Zola and was quickly in the thick of it, though his first shot had no power.

JJ spun away from McCready but his run and early cross was too quick for everyone, including the intended target Hibbert. Would Windass have been more alert to it?

Schumacher was working feverishly in the City midfield and he broke up a Tranmere raid to spark another dangerous counter from the visitors.

JJ wreaked terror again with a burst from the halfway line before timing his pass for Logan, whose first-time cross-shot was agonisingly close to sneaking in the far corner.

But it was not as close as Mullin's point-blank header as he steamed in to meet a Shuker cross. It had goal written all over it but Ricketts again pulled off a blinding save - and even managed to cling on to the ball in the process.

Both sides were eyeing a winner and City's slick passing carved out another opportunity which was wasted by Johnson when he should have laid it off to a better-placed Hibbert.

And with 11 minutes left, the Preston man made way for Eddie Johnson for his first outing since December 16.

Referee Russell Booth was unimpressed with Tranmere's shout for a penalty when Mullin went down under Bower's challenge but the official, who had let too much go at times, had to take some action after tempers flared following a tangle between Eddie Johnson and Goodison.

Players rushed over as the pair clashed on the halfway line before the referee restored order and booked both men. Goodison got his card as he hobbled off injured.

But there was nothing limp about City's display after another fruitful trip to Birkenhead. Even without you know who.

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