Tranmere 1-1 Brighton
A late header by debutant Scott Wooton secured a well deserved point for Tranmere against top of the league Brighton.
The Birkenhead born defender was brought in by Rovers boss Les Parry from Manchester United in midweek, and his goal on 87 minutes capped off a gutsy second-half nicely for the home side.
Tranmere made only one change to the XI that defeated Bristol Rovers earlier in the week with Wooton replacing Jermaine Grandison at centre-back after the latter's loan spell came to an end. They also had the luxury of having a full bench with striker Sam Morrow returning from injury to give Parry seven subs.
Tranmere have been known to play well against the big teams with their pressing tactics. This was on show for the first five minutes as the away side were firmly forced back into their own half. But Brighton then started to work their passing game, and were able to start moving the play to the wings. 19 year-old Wooton was in action early on, and only a diving header from him prevented striker Glen Murray from getting a free header at the far post.
As the crosses poured in however, the clearances poured out, and Tranmere looked dangerous breaking from deep. Enoch Showunmi was denied by Marcos Painter's last ditch sliding tackle after being put through by Joss Labadie, while Labadie's shot from inside the box was hit straight at keeper Casper Ankergren minutes later.
The home side's passing wasn't quite up to the mark as crosses and long-balls missed targets, and as a result, they couldn't capitalise on any of their earlier pressure. As the minutes passed, Brighton tightened up at the back and eventually went on to take the lead on 35 minutes
The goal started from a break in which keeper Ankergren started with a throw, only for both Ian Goodison and Ashley Barnes to mis-control their attempts at bringing the ball down. It then sat up for Glen Murray who struck a sweet volley into the bottom left corner from 25-yards.
Clearly frustrated by their fortunes, Tranmere began to look sloppy at the back and almost went down another goal five minutes later. Gulacsi, who may have felt he could have done better with the goal, only parried Bennett's powerful drive out to the feet of Barnes who fired the rebound over the bar as the whistle blew for half-time.
A number of points gained by Tranmere so far this season have been accredited to their second-half performances, and they came agonisingly close to drawing level just eight minutes in. Lucas Akins flicked on well to Showunmi outside the box who took one touch on his way to rifling a shot against the left-hand post. The ball skidded out to safety as the away side were given a lifeline early on.
Tuesday`s hero Dale Jennings was looking increasingly threatening outside the box and Brighton were throwing bodies everywhere to combat his countless efforts on goal. A shot by Jennings, who scored a sublime goal against Bristol to earn three points for Parry`s side, was blocked on 60 minutes with the rebound failing to fall for both Akins and Showunmi.
Showunmi was also causing problems up front as he looked to add to his five goals for the Whites. His cross was deflected onto the post by Lewis Dunk minutes after Jennings effort. 17 year-old Jennings then started off a move by beating his marker and striking goalwards. The ball then fell for captain John Welsh who skilfully knocked it past a defender before shooting over as Rovers pushed on.
Although dominant, the game for the home side was still riddled with the scoreline as the game ticked on. Showunmi was still knocking at doors however, and even took the ball past Ankergren for a clear shot on goal. But as the Dane raced back, the striker was forced wide, and his shot lacked the power to beat defender Tommy Elphick.
Goodison then headed over the bar from a corner on 75 minutes while Labadie was denied a penalty a few minutes later as Rovers desperately looked for an equaliser. After the 80 mark Brighton decided to push back in an attempt to hold on to their lead. Spurred on by the home crowd, Tranmere never gave up, and soon enough they were rewarded with Wooton`s goal.
A foul on Showunmi following an encouraging run gave young Creswell a chance to swing in a ball on the right side. His superb delivery was met by local boy Wooton who leapt high to head in before wheeling off to celebrate with the Prenton Park faithful.
There was an air of Rovers last home game against Charlton about Prenton Park as the hosts tried to steal the win late on. Jennings almost grabbed his second in as many games with some good skill before chipping his attempt over the bar in stoppage time. The corners that followed for the home side failed to amount to anything as Tranmere came away with a point.
Tranmere: Gulacsi, Blanchard, Wootton, Goodison, Cresswell, Labadie, Welsh, Mendy (Fraughan 80), Akins, Showunmi, Jennings. Substitutes not used: Collister, Cathalina, Wood, Bakayogo, McLaren, Morrow.