Gulasci Error Gifts Hartlepool Win
An own goal from Tranmere goalkeeper Peter Gulasci handed Hartlepool United a 1-0 win in a dour game at Prenton Park.
The corresponding game last season ended in a drab 0-0 draw but with Tranmere winning four of their last five in the league, there was hope that the good form would continue with a win.
However, John Welsh and Joss Labadie both missed out through suspension whilst Enoch Showunmi, Marlon Broomes, Sam Morrow and Liam Darville amongst others were ruled out with injuries. This gave Ryan Fraughan, Sam Mantom and Lucas Akins a chance to impress Les Parry.
The game started poorly with neither side creating any noteworthy chances until a poor backpass from Max Blanchard put Ritchie Humphreys in the clear but the makeshift striker put his effort high and wide.
Gulasci was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, keeping out efforts from Andy Monkhouse, Gary Liddle and Joe Gamble.
Tranmere came close to a goal at the end of the first half when Aaron Cresswell's free-kick went narrowly wide of the far post as the score remained 0-0 heading into the break.
The second half wasn't much better as the game became scrappy with the ball spending more time in the air than on the floor.
Loanee Sam Mantom came close to scoring for Tranmere with an effort that trickled wide of the post after good work from Lucas Akins on 72 minutes.
It was Hartlepool, however, who would grab the opening goal in bizarre circumstances.
After a bout of pressure the away side won a series of corners with Ryan Fraughan clearing off the line from Pools skipper Sam Collins. From the resulting corner, Gulasci came to punch the ball clear but it hit the wrong side of his hand and went into the back of the net to the delight of the small away following in the Cowshed end.
Dale Jennings tested goalkeeper Jake Kean with a long-range effort that stung the palms of the stopper but Tranmere couldn't take advantage of the re-bound.
Two penalty appeals for the home side were waved away by referee Gary Sutton as Hartlepool held on for a hard-fought win.