Blunt Rovers edged out at home
Tranmere succumbed to yet another home defeat at the hands of a team down the bottom of the table as Bristol Rovers walked out of Prenton Park with all three points.
Will Hoskins first-half goal was enough to separate the two teams in a frustrating evening for the Whites that saw very few chances throughout.
Les Parry named an unchanged side for the game as Andy Robinson and Joss Labadie retained their places following Saturday`s shake-up.
Tranmere were looking to ease themselves into the game early on by retaining shape, but the slow start by the Whites led to a good first five minutes for the visitors. Clearances were made by Ian Goodison and Mark McChrystal to keep the away side at bay, and it was distribution from the back that gave the game its first set of chances.
A Tony Warner throw set Enoch Showunmi on his way speeding into the Bristol half, only for the striker to fire his pass behind an unmarked Zoumana Bakayogo on the opposite wing. Minutes later, Robinson had the games first shot with an effort that just went wide.
The Whites started to establish themselves by finding Showunmi with long-balls, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock when a cross was only temporarily cleared by Goodison, with the ball falling into the path of Chris Lines who fired a low shot into the bottom left corner from outside of the area.
The Pirates could have doubled their lead moments later when a slip from Robbie Weir gave Hoskins some space inside the area. The normally clinical front-man struck a shot that hit the right-hand post and eventually rebounded out of the area.
It was a change from Les Parry that saw Rovers wake up towards the end of the first-half, with Ash Taylor making way for striker Adam McGurk as Rovers switched to 4-4-2. Immediately, McGurk latched onto a Showunmi flick in a decent position, only to be penalised for handball. The former Aston-Villa man felt hard done by minutes later when he was seen to be dragged down by a shirt-pull inside the area that the linesman failed to see.
A decent run from Robinson that ended in a misplaced pass gave the half its last spell of action as Rovers went into the break one down.
Tranmere were almost dealt with a hammer blow two minutes into the start of the second-half when the elusive Hoskins broke forward and fired a ball that went straight through Warner`s six-yard box without a touch. But despite the signs of promise at the end of the first-half and the visitors early chance in the second, both sides failed to really settle as the minutes ticked by without anything significant events.
Parry made another change midway into the second half as the Whites continued to trail and lack inspiration. Lateef Elford was brought on for Joss Labadie in a move that saw Robinson switch to centre-midfield. Following the substitution, the closest Tranmere came to equalising was a shot from Bakayogo that went across goal without forcing a save out of Conrad Logan.
Logan finally made a save from John Welsh`s shot before Parry`s final change saw wide-man Bakayogo come off for Lucas Akins with the game creeping into its last 10 minutes of normal time.
There was an urgency about Tranmere, but with the Pirates pushing men back there was view gaps for the attackers to expose. At the other end, Bristol could have almost closed the game out in the last minute of normal time when Hoskins fired a shot goalbound from inside the area, only for Warner to pull off the save of the match to keep his side in the game. But despite the heroics, there were to be no last chances for the Whites, as the visitors held on for the win.
Goals: Bristol Rovers- Hoskins (19)
Tranmere: Warner, Weir, Goodison, McChrystal, Cresswell, Labadie (Elford-Alliyu 64), Taylor (McGurk 38), Welsh, Robinson, Showunmi, Bakayogo (Akins 80). Substitutes not used: Collister, Kay, Wood, Blanchard.
Bristol Rovers: Logan, Senda, Sawyer, Tunnicliffe, Bolger, Campbell, Lines, Reece (Pell 66), Williams (Richard 87), Hughes, Hoskins. Substitutes not used: Green, Booth, Cooper, Howe, Richards.
Referee: Chris Sarginson
Yellow cards: Sawyer (60)
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