Resilient Tranmere Tamed the Shrews at Prenton Park as they recorded a valuable win against League Two’s top club.
Rovers dominated for periods of the first half as they grabbed a vital three points in a 2-1 win that extends the gap between themselves and the bottom two.
Micky Adams made two changes from the side that was beaten so comfortably at York last week, with Iain Hume and Harrison McGahey replaced by Marc Laird and Josh Thompson.
That also meat a switch to a 4-3-3, perhaps to aide the Rovers midfield, which has been somewhat over run in recent games.
The hosts were, in Adams’ own words, “looking for a positive response” after a run that has dragged them perilously close to the relegation zone.
And early on, bar a few defensive errors that really should have proved costly, they managed to hold their own against the league leaders.
It was the visitors, managed by former Rovers midfielder Micky Mellon, who had the best opening chances though.
James Collins had the first, albeit and fortuitous one, as a tackle deflected off his leg and into the arms of Owain Fon Williams.
Minutes later, he nipped in to steal the ball from a lackadaisical Adam Dugdale, but could only slap wide from inside the area.
At the other end, Tranmere have a couple of chances, but neither Laird or Kayode Odejayi could find the target, and shortly afterwards the play returned to the other end.
This time, Jennison Myrie-Williams’ dreadful pass left Collins sniffing out the danger, and his inviting cross just evaded the diving Tyrone Barnett.
Former Rovers loanee Jermaine Grandison then provided Fon Williams with a comfortable save thanks to a tame poke forward before there was a sudden shift in momentum.
Tranmere, who had offered so little in attack so far, turned up the heat, and that resulted in the opening goal.
Player of the month Rory Donnelly was the scorer, netting his fifth strike for the club, but he had his teammates to thank for some excellent build up play.
It started with Max Power in midfield, feeding into Laird in the box, who in turn timed his ball to Donnelly perfectly.
And from inside the box and at a tight angle, the on-loan Swansea striker calmly slotted home at the near post.
If that was a sucker punch, then what happened next was a potential knock out blow, as on 32-minutes, Rovers doubled their advantage.
This time, it was they who profited from some dismal defending.
Or more precisely, it was Danny Holmes, who tireless attacked the Shrewsbury defender and robbed him of possession before smashing past the ‘keeper from 18-yards.
For the right-back, of course such a staunch Rovers fan, it was only a fourth Tranmere goal, and his delight was clear to see as he wheeled away towards the Main Stand in celebration.
Form then up until half-time, the hosts dominated.
Myrie-Williams hit the post with an in-swinging cross that took a deflection, whilst a strong turn and fierce shot from Odejayi was blocked away.
Rovers were far from clear of danger at the other end though, and a stunning double save from Fon Williams kept his clean sheet intact, firstly palming clear Bobby Grant’s shot before somehow getting up to deny Collins’ rebound at point blank range.
After the break, there were a few more hairy moments.
Grant curled straight at Fon Williams from the edge of the box as Shrewsbury started the second half on top, before the ‘keeper sprang off his line to block an attempted Collins lob.
Tranmere had chances of their own though, and but for a superb tip round the post by Jayson Leutwiler, Power would have made it 3-0 with a 25-yard free-kick that was heading for the top corner.
It was a somewhat stop-start second half though, with both sides giving away numerous free-kicks.
And there was also a near ten minute break in play after Mickey Demetriou went down under a challenge from Odejayi and was eventually carried off on a stretcher to warm applause from all four stands.
The break in play seemed to benefit the visitors most, and straight away Tyrone Barnett saw a header saved before they reduced the deficit.
And it was Tranmere’s old foe, defending set-pieces, that was their downfall, as Connor Goldson bundled home from a corner to make it 2-1.
After that, the Rovers back line dropped deeper and deeper, and the Shrewsbury onslaught started.
Substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, no stranger to Prenton Park, and Barnett fired off target either side of a weak shot by Grant that was easily saved.
And a goalmouth scramble then saw the ball hit the bar, before Fon Williams brilliantly shifted the way he was diving to save a deflection effort from Grant.
But Rovers clung on to record their first win in four and only their fourth at home in the league this season.