Rampant Rovers leapfrog to 15th after win
Lateef Elford-Alliyu continued his scoring form to strike first in an emphatic 3-0 win for Tranmere against sleeping giants Sheffield Wednesday.
Owl`s midfielder Giles Coke was sent-off minutes after the goal, with Ian Goodison heading in from the resulting free-kick. For the second game in a row, Enoch Showunmi made it three with a strike on 80 minutes.
Rovers boss Les Parry made only one change to the squad that travelled to Plymouth on Saturday, with new signing Robbie Weir replacing Alan Mahon on the bench.
The Whites were pressurised early on as their opponents strung a quick set of passes together to win a corner in the third minute. Coke`s curling ball found Gary Madine who headed over the bar from an awkward angle in the six-yard box.
After being penned back for the games first few minutes, the Rovers back line were able to weather the storm, and their first attack almost saw them taking the lead against the run of play. Lucas Akins was inches away from getting contact on a tempting cross from Aaron Cresswell, with Ash Taylor heading the eventual attempt on goal into the side of the net on 11 minutes.
There was a static period after the chance where both sides tried to use their target men to link up play with no success. Any source of danger seemed to be coming from Wednesday`s right-wing in the form of Gary Teale`s crosses. The Scottish international seemed to be giving Cresswell a hard time when on the ball, but when his attempts found black shirts in the box they were met with blocks from Goodison and Mark McChrystal.
As the game approached the half-hour mark it was Tranmere that seemed to be enjoying the lion`s share of the possession. McChrystal came off the field momentarily to receive treatment on a head injury, but there was little to talk about as both sides battled for space in midfield.
Tranmere had a good opportunity to work the Wednesday defence with a free-kick from a foul on Showunmi which saw Cresswell and Joss Labadie work a training ground move, only for the left-back to fire wide of the target on 39 minutes.
20-year old Cresswell`s left-foot has become a vital source for both goals and assists for the Whites this season, with an inswinging corner on the brink of half-time finding Joss Labadie whose shot was blocked. Wednesday also had a chance to break the deadlock with corner before the break, with James O`Connor directing his header wide of Tranmere keeper Tony Warner`s right-hand post to signal the end of the first-half.
The game failed to take any real direction during the first 10 minutes of the second-period, until a number of events in quick succession changed everything. Warner was forced into making a save from Madine with a long-range volley on 55 minutes, but it was Tranmere`s potency up-front which sent Prenton Park into raptures.
Showunmi won possession well in the Owls on half to find John Welsh out wide. The Whites captain drifted a ball into the box which looped over numerous defenders to find a leaping Elford-Alliyu at the far post who headed in for his fourth goal in three games on 60 minutes.
The visitor`s chances of getting back into the game took a hammer blow just five minutes later when Coke was shown a straight red for jumping into a tackle with Welsh. Cresswell stayed true to his form on the deadball with a well struck cross that once again evaded all the defenders and find its way to the far post where Goodison nodded in from close range for the second.
After the flurry of action, Elford-Alliyu almost grabbed his second brace in two games on 67 minutes with a low shot that was bound for the target, only for Nicky Weaver to get down well to block the attempt with his feet.
With Gary Megson making numerous changes to try and salvage something out of the game, Rovers deserved third eventually came on 80 minutes. Showunmi stayed forward after being denied from a block in the area, and was rewarded for his patience when Joss Labadie headed back into the box for the target man to drill a volley under Weaver and into the net.
As Wednesday looked like a beaten team, it seemed the easiest way to keep the ball for the Whites was to attack. Lucas Akins skipped past a couple of challenges on the left-hand side and found himself in space but was unable to find Showunmi as a lack of communication saw the former Leeds man drop off behind the play.
Substitute Paul Heffernan had a chance to ruin another clean sheet for Rovers, but his shot was blocked by Goodison with the last action of the game.
Goals: Tranmere: Elford Alliyu (60), Goodison (65), Showunmi (80)
Tranmere: Warner, Kay, Goodison, McChrystal, Cresswell, Labadie, Taylor, Welsh, Akins, Showunmi, Elford-Alliyu. Substitutes not used: Collister, Cathalina, Bakayogo, Wood, Weir, Robinson, McGurk.
Sheff Wed: Weaver, Spurr, Reynolds (Jones 79), Johnson, Michael Morrison, Teale (Heffernan 68), O'Conor, Osbourne, Coke, Clinton Morrison, Madine. Substitutes not used: Jameson, Hinds, Sedgwick, Beevers, Mellor.
Refere: Neil Swarbrick
Yellow cards: Kay (76)
Red card: Coke (64)