Tranmere Rovers secure Mersey Masters glory

By David Prentice on Jun 30, 08 10:06 AM in Journalists

EDDIE BISHOP turned back the clock on Saturday night.

A veteran of Tranmere's Cup giant-killing days - when top flight sides came to Prenton Park and were regularly demolished - he was the hero again as Rovers upset Liverpool in the final of the Mersey Masters.

Bishop struck twice at a packed Echo Arena - for a final flourish to a night of rich entertainment

There were 38 goals in seven matches, including stunners from Craig Short, Paul Walsh and Neil Redfearn, goalmouth scrambles, stunning saves - and even an injury to Reds playmaker Jan Molby . . . during the tournament warm-up!

The scene was set in an opening match seven-goal thriller which saw Liverpool come from behind to beat a Wigan side, which included two-time European Cup winner Alan Kennedy.

Tranmere's opening game saw them catch Everton stone cold, Rovers rattling five goals past a Blues line-up which included Craig Short, Barry Horne, Brett Angell and Joe McBride.

Peter Beagrie blasted in Everton's consolation, but it was the mighty Whites who coasted to victory with Ged Brannan and Kenny Irons pulling the strings in midfield just like they did 20 years ago, and John McGreal showing a hitherto hidden eye for goal.

The most unexpected goal of the night, however, came from former Blues centre-back Short as he blasted in a Van Basten-esque volley from an oblique angle in the eagerly awaited Merseyside derby.

"This is the first time the Mersey Masters derby has been in Liverpool. And it's Sky's first sell-out!," roared Neil Pointon into a pitchside microphone, before limping off injured.

Warren Aspinall later added to Everton's lead before the Reds came roaring back to win 5-2.

Liverpool made a habit of late comebacks. They shocked Tranmere with a spectacular last gasp volley from Paul Walsh, which meant Rovers only had to avoid a heavy defeat by Wigan in their last group game to reach the final.

They did better than that, snatching a late equaliser to draw 1-1, with big George Santos a defensive rock.

And they carried that form on into the grand final.

Stuart Barlow capitalised on a defensive mistake to fire the underdogs in front but Phil Babb and Paul Walsh put the Reds back in the driving seat.

However, a youthful Tranmere side were always dangerous on the break and fought back to lead 3-2 at the interval with efforts from John McGreal and Eddie Bishop.

Ian Rush's men stepped up their game in the second period but Bishop's second killed off any chance of a revival and Rovers held on for victory.

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