Tranmere 2-1 Torquay: Report

A brace from Andy Mangan earned Tranmere an important three points as they beat struggling Torquay 2-1 at Prenton Park.

Rovers dominated the first half and should really have been out of sight by the break.

But they clung on to claim a big three points after Dan Sparkes pulled one back late on.

Two changes were made from Tuesday’s draw with Forest Green, with Lee Vaughan and Jay Harris returning from one match bans.

That meant Jake Kirby and Michael Ihiekwe dropped to the bench, whilst there was no place in the starting eleven for James Norwood, despite his goal at The New Lawn.

Meanwhile there were two former Tranmere players in the Torquay line up, although you would hardly call them familiar faces.

Sean McGinty and Nathan Blissett both spent time on loan at Prenton Park and made a return with the Gulls this afternoon.

The hosts were looking to extend an unbeaten run of seven games in the league, stretching back to Micky Mellon’s first match in charge against Wrexham.

They had a couple of early chances, with Ben Tollitt forcing a save from the ‘keeper with a skidding effort, before Andy Mangan fired into the near side netting.

The striker was much more accurate with his next chance though, as the pair combined to give Tranmere the lead.

Tollitt was the provider, sliding a pass into Mangan on the left hand side of the area, and he duly converted with a one touch finish, curling in off the far post.

It had been a 17 game wait for a goal for the 30-year old, one of the longest droughts of his career.

But having taking a couple of games to get back up to speed after rejoining the club, he was now looking much sharper and flashed another effort just over the bar shortly afterwards.

At the other end, Torquay had a rare adventure forward, but they only got to within 25-yards before Kieffer Moore smashed haplessly off target.

It was Tranmere doing all the pressing though, and Mangan could have had another two before the break.

His first chance came from a lobbed McNulty pass, but the ball was always skidding away from him and his volley went harmlessly wide.

The striker should have buried the net opportunity though, played in by Harris to a similar position from where he scored, but this time skewing wide.

Tollitt then had a chance to double the lead in first half injury time, dipping into the box after a mazy 30-yard run down the left, but his shot was beaten away.

The break seemed to do the visitors the world of good as they came out of the blocks firing and had several chances.

The first fell to Moore, but again he could not find the target from 25-yards.

Moments later, the ball was down the other end and Tranmere doubled their lead as Mangan finally slotted home a second.

This time he was played in by Andy Cook with an expertly weighted pass, and the striker powerfully fired through the ‘keeper’s legs to make it 2-0.

In truth, Brendan Moore should have saved it, but Rovers could not have cared less as they took the game by the scruff of the neck.

The visitors nearly hit back with their next attack, but again they failed to test Scott Davies as Amam Verma loosely volleyed over from inside the box.

Ritchie Sutton then nearly bagged a rare goal, rattling the cross bar after being picked out by Jeff Hughes, but it was Torquay who were on top.

Luke Young should have done better when he scooped over the bar from near the penalty spot as the hour mark approached.

And then a terrible error by Vaughan allowed the visitors to pull one back with a goal that their hard work deserved.

The defender tried to gently knock a long ball back to Davies, but he could not get enough power on it.

That gave Sparkes the chance to pounce and roll under the ‘keeper, leading to a nervous few minutes for Micky Mellon and his side.

They now pushed men forward in search of an equaliser, but began to struggle with the final ball.

Moore hit another shot wide, smashing into the back of the Cowshed stand as he connected with a cross at the near post.

As players streamed forward, there was space for Tranmere to attack down the other end.

Tollitt was having plenty of joy down the left, and several times he cut inside but was unable to test ‘keeper.

There were times, too, when he held on to the ball for too long and was dispossessed when passing could have led to a shoot opportunity.

The chance to put the game to bed came in 86th minute as Rovers were awarded a penalty when Vaughan was brought down in the box.

Cook eventually stepped up to take it, but only after a heated debate with substitute James Norwood.

And after missing a spot kick at Braintree last week, he slapped a terrible effort wide of the post to leave a glimmer of hope for the visitors.

Thankfully though it did not matter as Rovers held on to grab the win and move to within three points of the top of the table.

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