Tranmere score four to continue winning streak
Dale Jennings and Ian Thomas-Moore both bagged braces as Tranmere scored four for the second game in a row on their way to an impressive 4-2 win over MK Dons.
Les Parry made three changes to the side that played Stockport in the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy, one of which saw Enoch Showunmi shake off a knee problem to take the place of Sam Morrow in attack. Marlon Broomes made his first start of the campaign in place of defender Scott Wootton whose loan from Manchester Unites ran-out after Tuesday`s game. Tim Cathalina made his first start for the club following his summer move in place of Liam Darville, with Jermaine Grandison making the subs bench following his return to Tranmere on loan from Coventry.
Young Dale Jennings snapshot bounced off a defender on its way out of the box and back into the Tranmere area, but it was clear the home side wanted to come out swinging. As soon as the ball reached Ian Goodison at the back, the Jamaican hoofed upfield to Jennings who sped past Danny Woodards on his way to striking through the legs of Dons keeper Dean Martin to net just three minutes in.
Not content with sitting back, Rovers piled forward to create another chance for Jennings who reached an Ian Thomas-Moore cross eight yards out, only for Martin to catch his lifted header comfortably.
Woodards nightmare continued as Jennings cut past him on the left side before seeing off another challenge and producing a low drive that deflected off a defender to only just fizz past the post. Despite his height being a disadvantage in the box, it was the winger who headed on target from John Welsh`s resulting corner.
By now Tranmere were firing balls down the left in an attempt to find their livewire, and Jennings took advantage of a slip from Woodards to march forward once again, only for his drilled shot to be blocked.
Despite all the pressure and the home crowd`s enthusiasm, Rovers were only one up, and were made to pay for missing chances on 15 minutes. Peter Leven`s strike was parried by Rovers keeper Peter Gulacsi on its way out, with a cross hitting right-back Cathalina`s arm causing referee Colin Webster to point to the spot. Leven`s penalty saw hit the bar and bounced over the line giving Karl Robinson`s side the equalizer despite their disaster of a start.
Tranmere were keen to not let the goal peg them back, and Showunmi raced forward to head just over the bar following a string of crosses. The encouraging move sprung Rovers back into action and Zoumana Bakayogo combined well with Jennings to skin Woodards on the left to win a corner. The ball stayed in the Dons half after the set-piece had been cleared, and a throw in found Jennings who raced into the box towards Dietmar Hamann who bundled down the winger for the second penalty of the game. Thomas-Moore stepped up and sent the keeper to the wrong way to keep his 100% spot-kick record for the Whites and restored the confidence around Prenton Park.
17 year-old Jennings was only kept quiet for two minutes after the goal and his knack of taking a shot on early was put to use for Tranmere`s third. Showunmi charged down the left before holding the ball up and laying off to the winger, who side-stepped a challenge on the edge of the box before curling his shot into the top right corner.
By now Dons had fallen apart, and Thomas-Moore had a wonderful chance to make it 4-1 after Showunmi barged Dean Lewington out of the way to race forward once again before squaring to Thomas-Moore who got under the shot and scooped over from 16-yards out. Following another attack from Tranmere`s left side, right-back Woodards was substituted on 28 minutes to avoid further damage, much to the amusement of the Prenton Park faithful.
Sensing a reply from the away side, Tranmere took advantage of their position by passing the ball around for a good 10 minutes, but their reluctance to push forward sparked Robinson`s side into action. Aaron Wilbraham headed over from a corner on 40 minutes and Levin had a long-range effort sizzle over the bar, but the Whites held on to their lead to go in two goals up at the break.
Needing something to happen, Dons coach Hamann took himself off at half-time for striker Lewis Guy and the striker forced Gulacsi to tip over the bar just three minutes after his introduction with a shot from 20-yards out. But Jennings was still causing problems for the new right-back Mathias Doumbe by racing past the Frenchman and into the area only for his shot to hit Martin and bounce away from the target.
The game then went from end to end as the Dons threw players forward, but the Tranmere defence stood their ground, with the frustration proving too much for Gary MacKenzie who kicked out at Cathalina, earning himself a straight red card. The challenge produced a melee where both sets of players came together and Rovers captain Welsh was shown a yellow for his reaction.
Rovers were still keen to kill off the game completely, and Jennings almost grabbed a fourth with a well hit free-kick reaching the side netting. Joss Labadie also went close with a shot on the turn which went wide of the right post.
Tranmere`s 10-men advantage only lasted for 15 minutes as Zoumana Bakayogo`s late challenge earned him a second yellow on 69 minutes, forcing Parry to drop Max Blanchard into left-back, with Jennings switching to midfield.
An injury to referee Webster resulted in a lengthy stop in play, but Rovers countered straight from the restart with Jennings breaking forward from deep to play in Thomas-Moore who curled the ball round Martin to give Tranmere a vital fourth goal.
Needing something to happen immediately, Dons tried their luck from range in an attempt to keep themselves in the game and a drive from Levin almost did just that, only for the shot to crash against the bar and out to safety on 79 minutes.
Tranmere took off Showunmi and Jennings to a standing ovasion from the crowd which saw Ryan Fraughan and Lucas Akins come on to try and grind the game out, only for Sam Baldock to turn in Jemal Johnson`s low cross just seconds later giving Robinson`s side a glimmer of hope on 86 minutes.
The Whites pushed back to avoid a nervy ending, with a wasteful shot from Johnson preventing that from happening with Dons last real chance of the game.
Tranmere: Gulacsi, Cathalina (Darville 86), Broomes, Goodison, Bakayogo, Labadie, Blanchard, Welsh, Thomas-Moore, Showunmi (Akins 83), Jennings (Fraughan 83). Subs not used: Collister, Grandison, Power, Morrow.
MK Dones: Martin, Lewington, MacKenzie, O`Hanlon, Gleeson (Johnson 74), Wilbraham, Baldock, Woodards (Doumbe 28), Hamann (Guy 45 HT), Leven, Chadwick. Subs not used: Easter, Carrington, Searle, Chicksen.