Jennings goal is highlight in 2-0 win
Another Dale Jennings wonder goal sent Tranmere on their way to an impressive win at home to League One promotion contenders Southampton, further distancing the Whites from the relegation zone.
John Welsh gave the home side the lead on 13 minutes with a header from close range before Jennings curled a shot in from 30 yards to give Les Parry`s side a well deserved win against the odds.
There was one change made to the side that were defeated at MK Dons last Saturday as Tranmere switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 to allow Marlon Broomes to come in for Zoumana Bakayogo. Ash Taylor moved out of defence and into midfield, while Ian Thomas-Moore started from the bench for the second game in a row. Alan Mahon made the squad for the first time in Rovers 2010-11 campaign.
Tony Warner had to be on his toes from the start when Rickie Lambert flicked-on for Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman sprinted through the Rovers back-line, only for Warner to claim the ball before the midfielder could get a touch.
After the early scares the home side started to stamp their authority on the game by using the pace of Dale Jennings and Lateef Elford-Alliyu to carry the ball forward. An effort from John Welsh from outside the box went just over, whilst Joss Labadie tangled in the box with Saints defenders, but couldn`t get a shot away.
The Whites were to be rewarded for their positive play on their next attack. A cross from Broomes was met by the head of Labadie who managed to nod the ball into the six-yard box. Kelvin Davis stalled on his line allowing Welsh to race forward, take a touch and fire the ball into the bottom left corner for the lead on 13 minutes.
Jennings then started to get the upper-hand on Southampton`s Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain as the two hottest properties in the Football League battled it out on Tranmere`s left side. The 18-year old put Jose Fonte under pressure twice with menacing runs that ended with the ball out of play, while at the other end a counter-attack saw Warner stretch to save Lambert`s angled strike in the box.
There was a huge setback on 24 minutes when Broomes, who was returning from an injury to take place in the afternoon`s action, fell awkwardly and needed to be stretchered off the pitch. The veteran was replaced by Nick Wood who made his first start since facing the Saints at St Mary`s back in October.
Richard Chaplow gave away a free-kick for handball on 29 minutes which resulted in Aaron Cresswell playing the ball to Elford-Alliyu for a snapshot that deflected just wide. The away side broke from the corner that followed with Oxlade-Chamberlain getting his first bit of time on the ball. The winger crossed for Lambert who uncharacteristically headed wide of the target.
Warner produced a brilliant save on 41 minutes to deny Guly do Prado heading in from 12 yards after Ryan Dickson broke clear on the left, while Cresswell fired over from 30 yards in one of the last actions of the half.
Tranmere made it hard for the away side to move the ball by pushing them back into their own half. However, a long-ball saw Saints break forward and hand Lambert an opportunity to shoot on 53 minutes, with a heavy touch allowing Rovers to clear.
Michael Kay did well to cut out Ryan Dickson`s run into the Whites area on 54 minutes with a tackle that just came in on time, while Dan Harding blasted a free-kick over the bar moments later.
But after looking stretched by the spell of pressure, the lead was doubled on 60 minutes courtesy of a great finish from Rovers` wanted man. Enoch Showunmi, who had been causing Rhadi Jaidi and Fonte problems all game, used his strength to hold off challenges from defence to lay the ball off for Jennings from the halfway line. The winger timed his run brilliantly and, after spotting Davis off his line, audaciously curled the ball into the goal from 30 yards out.
Lee Barnard took to the field on 62 minutes in place of Ryan Dickson as Saints boss Nigel Adkins tried to get his side pushing up-field again. Barnard was booked for a dive in the penalty area moments later.
Warner had to make another spectacular save when Barnard darted into the box to aim a header into the left side of the goal, only to be denied by the keeper`s outstretched hand on 70 minutes. The pressure continued soon after and Lambert found himself unchallenged in the box to head just wide of the far post on 77 minutes. Oxlade-Chamberlain fired an effort wide soon after.
Saints piled forward in during the last 10 minutes of the game in a desperate attempt to get back into the game late on. Jose Fonte went from box to box to head wide inside the area on 83 minutes while Warner was forced into making a good reaction save when a free-kick deflected off Taylor`s head seemed destined to nestle into the bottom corner.
The last few minutes of normal time saw no real action with the next bit of noise from the crowd coming from an objection to the signalling of five minutes added time. Lucas Akins was brought on for Jennings late on, with the youngster receiving a well deserved round of applause for his afternoon of work. The final whistle that sounded soon after saw Rovers collect all three points and put them two points above the drop zone with a game in hand.
Goals: Tranmere 2- John Welsh (13), Dale Jennings (60)
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Broomes (Wood 24), McChrystal, Cresswell, Labadie, Taylor, Welsh, Elford-Alliyu, Showunmi, Jennings. Substitutes not used: Collister, Fraughan, Mahon, Thomas-Moore, McGurk, Akins.
Southampton: Davis, Richardson, Harding, Schneiderlin, Dickson (Barnard 62), Fonte, Lambert, do Prado, Jaidi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chaplow. Substitutes not used: Bialkowski, Butterfield, Martin, Scaborne, Gobern, Doble.