Showunmi goal lifts Rovers up to 14th
Enoch Showunmi`s goal five minutes into the second-half proved to be the matchwinner as Rovers moved up to 14th place with a hard fought win over Notts County.
Paul Ince`s side had the lion share of possession, but Tranmere stood firm in their own half to battle out the victory.
Showunmi had to pass a late fitness test to line-up alongside Ian Thomas-Moore and Dale Jennings up-front in a 4-3-3 formation, despite the Whites winning their last two games with 4-4-2. Overall there were two changes to the side that beat Plymouth, with Max Blanchard coming in for the injured Marlon Broomes in defence, whilst Joss Labadie returned from a suspension to take a place in midfield. Jermaine Grandison and Sam Morrow were both left out after taking knocks in training, but Ash Taylor took a place on the bench for the first time in 2010-11 after recovering from a lengthy injury.
The home side had the first sniffs of the game with Neil Bishop`s shot just missing Peter Gulacsi`s near post, while Ben Davies` 20-yard free kick sizzled over the bar onto the roof of the net minutes after.
Alan Judges cross on 13 minutes soared over all of the black & white shirts in the box, with the winger firing wide soon after as the Magpies continued their bright start to the game.
Thomas Ince, on loan from Liverpool, looked dangerous early on as his pace forced Zoumana Bakayogo into a few early fouls- with one previously putting the Frenchman on a yellow card on 11 minutes. Another foul soon after saw the left-back given a stern warning from referee Geoff Eltringham which resulted in Aaron Cresswell taking his place on 25 minutes to avoid the Whites going down to ten men.
Gulacsi held a shot from Davies from outside the area on 31 minutes, whilst Rovers captain John Welsh joined Bakayogo into the book after a hard challenge on Craig Westcarr. The County man went off for treatment immediately after before coming back on to rejoin the action.
The game then slowed down, with Tranmere`s reluctance to push forward meaning the Magpies were restricted to playing down the wings and winning corners and throw-ins. One of which towards the end of the half saw the ball bounce around in the six-yard box before Ian Goodison put a boot to it to end the half.
There was looks of concern on the faces of Goodison and Showunmi as both of the sides went down the tunnel, with the pair looking to be grimacing following a scrappy first-half. Thomas-Moore also looked unhappy at the break- racing over to referee Eltringham to voice his disapproval over the opposition`s tendency to go down easily to win free-kicks.
Despite their earlier concerns, both Showunmi and Goodison made their way out for the second-half, with Showunmi making a significant impact to the Whites game just five minutes later. Thomas-Moore found himself wide into the penalty area and free to fire in a cross which took a deflection off a defender into the path of Showunmi who volleyed into the net with Rovers first shot of the game.
Showunmi looked to be in serious pain following the goal and departed the field to a standing ovation from the travelling supporters with Lucas Akins taking his place.
The goal looked to have taken County by surprise after the Magpies dominated the first-half, but fresh attacks started just minutes after Showunmi`s departure. The energetic Davies continued to prove a handful with a low drive going just wide on 54 minutes. Mike Edwards also went close with a header five minutes later as Rovers rode their luck.
County made an attacking change on 63 minutes, with Scottish international Lee Miller coming on for Alan Judge. Davies` corner found Stephen Hunt whose head went harmlessly over the crossbar shortly after.
Tranmere`s hopes of clinging onto victory took a major blow on 74 minutes as Labadie, who had only just come back from a one-match ban, was sent-off for his involvement in an off the ball incident involving Ricky Ravenhill.
Thomas-Moore tried to make it two in spectacular fashion after seeing County keeper Rob Burch off his line, with his 45-yard shot going over the bar on 79 minutes. Stephen Darby had a glorious chance to draw level with under 10 minutes remaining after strolling into the box unmarked, with Gulacsi palming his tame effort wide for a corner.
There were voices of disapproval from the away fans after a couple of incidents involving County players went virtually unnoticed by Eltringham. First Dale Jennings looked to have broken free inside Tranmere`s half after heading on a clearance, only to be halted by what looked like a high foot to the face courtesy of Ravenhill to halt the youngster in his tracks. The incident gave Ravenhill a booking, but a forearm to Goodison later on went unpunished.
The three minutes of injury time saw Rovers clear from the box on a number of occasions, with a slip by Goodison letting in Karl Hawley to duel with Gulacsi, with the Hungarian punching clear to safety. Tranmere pushed back to weather the storm and were rewarded with the sound of the final whistle to complete their fourth win in five league games.
Goals- Tranmere- Showunmi (50)
Notts County: Burch, Darby (Hawley 84), Edwards, Ravenhill, Bishop, Davies, Chilvers, Hunt, Westcarr (Rodgers 75), Judge (Miller 64), Ince. Substitutes not used: Nelson, Thompson, Pearce, Spicer.
Tranmere: Gulacsi, Cathalina, Blanchard, Goodison, Bakayogo (Cresswell 25), Mendy, Welsh, Labadie, Thomas-Moore, Showunmi (Akins 53), Jennings. Substitutes not used: Collister, Taylor, Wood, Fraughan, McGurk.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Yellow cards: Bakayogo (11), Welsh (34), Goodison (84), Ravenhill (87)
Red card: Labadie (75)