Jennings strike gives Rovers terrific home win
Dale Jennings` wonder goal on 60 minutes lifted Tranmere out of the bottom four as the home sides attack excelled in a 1-0 win over Plymouth.
Rovers boss Les Parry made three changes to the side that beat Bury on Tuesday, with Jennings passing fit to take the place of Aaron Cresswell at left-midfield and Arnaud Mendy coming in for the suspended Joss Labadie at centre-midfield. Ian Goodison took the place of Jermaine Grandison in defence as Tranmere went to 4-4-2 for the second consecutive match.
Despite much of the press building up to the game focusing on Parry`s insistence on keeping clean sheets, Rovers keeper Peter Gulacsi had to pull off a strong one-handed save to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips of opening the scoring in the first minute, after the winger raced onto a quick free-kick.
Jennings through ball played Enoch Showunmi into Plymouth`s penalty area, only for the target man`s heavy touch to skid across the surface into Pilgrims keeper Romain Larrieu`s grasp. At the other end Plymouth`s Craig Noone ran on to a loose ball to fire a shot wide of the target on four minutes, and Tim Cathalina`s missed tackle gave the winger enough space to put in a cross that was caught by Gulacsi.
Ian Thomas-Moore almost gave Rovers the lead on six minutes when the striker`s superb touch teed up a volley that just went over the bar as the game continued go from end to end.
Jennings trickery helped the young winger evade a tackle in Plymouth`s area only for two more defenders to crowd him out to prevent a shot as the home side continued looked lively in the opening 10 minutes.
The pace eventually slowed when an injury to livewire Noone caused a stoppage in play, during which Cathalina, who seemed to be standing off Noone on a regular basis, was seen being given instructions by Parry.
Mendy failed to get enough contact on a Jennings cross on 23 minutes, whilst Showunmi was took off for a few minutes after looking to be experiencing some grief with a knee problem.
Cathalina got his body behind a header from a John Welsh free-kick which went a yard wide of the far post on 33 minutes and Jennings sprinted half the pitch with the ball before forcing Larrieu to palm round the post from a long-range effort.
Showunmi, who was staying down after competing for aerial challenges, was eventually taken off for Sam Morrow on 41 minutes, whilst Jennings` spectacular touch and volley from 30 yards out that just fizzed past the post proved to be the final action of the half.
Tranmere had the first chance of the second period after Lucas Akins decided to push forward, beating Onismore Bhasera for pace before blasting into the side netting from inside the box.
Morrow robbed Reda Johnson in Plymouth`s half resulting in his first spell with the ball on 55 minutes, only for his 20 yard effort swerved wide of the goal. But Rovers` string of attacks woke up Jennings on the wing and a mazy run almost sent the crowd into raptures. After nutmegging his marker the 17-year old raced towards goal and cut inside only for his effort towards the far corner to be blocked by a Johnson dive.
Always on the move, Jennings didn`t let the denial hamper his game. On 60 minutes the youngster picked up the ball on the left from Mendy before knocking the ball forward to engage in a pace challenge with Karl Duguid. Leaving the full-back well behind, the winger cut past a couple of challenges and found the far corner to put Rovers into the lead, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Buoyed by the goal, Tranmere continued to attack the visitors back line with Ian Goodison even going forward to cross, only for Larrieu to punch out to safety on 66 minutes. Rory Fallon, who was brought on for Chris Clark in an attacking minded change by Peter Reid, sent an effort wide as the win looked anything but safe for the time being.
Marlon Broomes, who looked to be carrying an injury, came off for Grandison to a standing ovation to cap off a solid performance from the defender, whilst Thomas-Moore curled an effort wide of the right hand post.
Fallon had a great chance to equalise when a cross soared over a number bodies to fall for the New Zealand international six yards out, but the striker stalled momentarily, allowing Goodison to clear the ball. Although Jennings had grabbed the goal, Gulacsi proved himself to be a worthy of matchwinner status once again with a couple of top draw saves from point blank followed by a Welsh clearance off the line to deny Plymouth from drawing level.
With the visitors throwing bodies forward, Morrow was given time outside the box to position himself and strike a left-footed shot inches wide of the target, whereas at the other end a Grandison slip in stoppage time allowed Noone to go unchallenged and fire a shot at goal from 10 yards, forcing Gulacsi into another wonder save. There were a couple of scares for the Whites towards the end with balls being hoofed into the area, but Tranmere weathered the storm to complete their third win league win in four games.
Goals: Tranmere- Jennings (60)
Tranmere: Gulacsi, Cathalina, Broomes (Grandison 77), Goodison, Bakayogo, Akins, Mendy, Welsh, Jennings, Showunmi (Morrow 41), Thomas-Moore. Substitutes not used: Collister, Darville, Cresswell, Blanchard, Fraughan.
Plymouth: Larrieu, Duguid, N'Gala, Johnson, Clark (Fallon 62), Wright-Phillips, Bhasera, Noone, Bolasie (Mason 74), Nelson, Clifford. Substitutes not used: Chenoweth, Patterson, Stephens, Seip, Molyneux.
Referee: Bobby Madley