Rovers winning streak ends with loss at Carlisle
Two goals either side of half-time brought Tranmere down to earth with a thud as the Whites slipped back into the relegation zone following a 2-0 loss away to Carlisle.
The result could have been different had Ian Thomas-Moore not missed a penalty on 23 minutes, but United`s own penalty miss on 36 minutes kicked the home side into action which led to James Berrett`s opener just before the break.
Les Parry was left fuming with his defence as the Whites conceded a second from a corner just after half-time with Peter Murphy blasting into Peter Gulacsi`s net which dented the visitors chances of getting anything out of the game.
There was just the one change to the XI that started against MK Dons last Saturday with Aaron Cresswell seemingly passing a late fitness test to regain his left-back spot back from the suspended Zoumana Bakayogo. Adam McGurk also returned from injury to take the place of Max Power on the bench.
There were a few concerns regarding the pitch at Brunton Park as heavy rainfall earlier in the day threatened to prevent the game from going ahead. Fortunately the surface looked immaculate when Whites captain John Welsh led his team onto it at 7:45.
Rovers keeper Peter Gulacsi was called into action early as Francois Zoko tried to find the Hungarian`s near post with a shot that was comfortably saved on five minutes. Marlon Broomes came to Gulacsi`s aid soon after to prevent a one on one with a well timed challenge as the home side tried to grab an early goal.
Tranmere`s first chance came just inside the 10 minute mark following a Cresswell free-kick that found Enoch Showunmi in the box with the target man heading narrowly wide.
James Berrett`s ambitious effort from way outside the area on 12 minutes soared over the bar, but Gulacsi was forced to make a save from Peter Murphy`s close range header after Tranmere came under pressure following a number of corners.
Despite failing to capitalise on a number of chances Carlisle were still very much in the driving seat, that was until Rovers were awarded a penalty following a swift counter-attack. Saturday`s hero Dale Jennings lost Frank Simek to latch onto a long-ball from Ian Goodison and unleashed shot in the area. The effort was blocked before falling to midfielder Welsh who was brought down by Murphy with referee Eddie Ilderton pointing straight to the spot. Many would have heavily backed Ian Thomas-Moore to put Rovers into the lead, but despite scoring from the spot in the 4-2 win at home to MK Dons the veteran`s low strike was saved by Adam Collin.
Jennings encouraging burst of pace took him past a challenge on his way to slipping in Labadie with the midfielder cutting inside a tackle, only to see his curled shot deflect out for a corner.
With Tranmere on top it was another penalty that took the game away from the attacking side. Cresswell`s attempted clearance failed and Goodison was adjudged to have brought down Zoko, but Gulacsi`s superb save down to the right from Gary Madine`s spot kick kept the scores level.
Buoyed by the decision more than the outcome, Carlisle pushed on and looked for a goal just before the break and were subsequently rewarded for their efforts. Zoko did well to hold up the ball in the box before making way for Berrett to blast a shot into the left side of the net, giving the home side the lead on 42 minutes which they took into the break.
Keen to start on the front foot, a slick move saw Rovers gain a corner which was headed wide by Thomas-Moore, but a major setback was just minutes away, with a Carlisle corner from Berrett resulting in Murphy heading in from close range on 49 minutes.
With Rovers needing a change Les Parry took Tim Cathalina off for striker Lucas Akins on 56 minutes which saw them switch to 4-4-2 with utility man Max Blanchard moving to right-back, Jennings and Thomas-Moore moving to the wings.
Akins tried to make an impact straight away with an ambitious effort that went harmlessly wide and a Jennings shot failed to hit the target three minutes later. Broomes had an effort saved from a corner that was given much to the displeasure of the home crowd with the ball looking to have gone straight out without any deflection.
Despite the home side controlling the game deep into the second-half, Jennings continued to run himself into the ground and a neat one-two with Showunmi saw the big striker fire over inside the area.
Thomas-Moore and Cresswell both had chances towards the end of the game that failed to test keeper Collin and a goal scramble in Carlisle`s area should have ended with the ball into the net, instead ending with a free-kick against the Whites for offside as the game ended 2-0.
Carlisle: Collin, Simek, Murphy, Robson, Taiwo, Zoko, Marshall, Madine, Barrett, Michalik, Grella. Subs not used: Hurst, Curran, Kane, Cook, Caig, McKenna, Evans.
Tranmere: Gulacsi, Cathalina (Akins 56), Broomes, Goodison, Cresswell, Labadie, Blanchard, Welsh, Thomas-Moore, Showunmi, Jennings. Subs not used: Collister, Darville, Grandison, Fraughan, McGurk, Morrow.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton