Gateshead 0-1 Tranmere: Report

A superb rearguard display from Tranmere helped them cling on to a massive three points as they beat Gateshead 1-0.

Rovers showed exactly why they have the best defence in the National League as they survived a dominating second half display from the hosts to keep an eleventh clean sheet of the campaign.



Indeed, Micky Mellon has now conceded just seven goals in his ten games since moving to Prenton Park, with that back four the bedrock for a revived promotion push.



But this was a true team effort, as the visitors displayed their title credentials and closed the gap to the top of the table to just two points.

Tranmere made two changes from Saturday’s win over Torquay, although new signing James Wallace had to settle for a place on the bench. 



Lee Vaughan and Liam Ridehalgh both missed out, with Michael Ihiekwe and Jake Kirby both returning to the starting line up.

Rovers were looking to extend an eight game unbeaten run in the league under Micky Mellon, and it did not take them long to get into their stride.



Just three minutes were on the clock when loanee Ben Tollitt made a darting run through the heart of the Gateshead defence and was picked out by Jeff Hughes.



The winger was now clean through on goal, and he duly slapped home his third goal of the season, firing across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner.

It has been an impressive loan spell for the man on a temporary deal from Portsmouth, given he has weighed in with several assists too.



But he came up against a defence keen to shut him down at the earliest opportunity as he drew several fouls in the final third.



The hosts seemed to tighten up too, with a strong back five, marshalled by ex-Rovers defender Liam Hogan, keeping Andy Cook and Andy Mangan quiet.



Indeed, Tranmere were mainly restricted to shots from distance, with Hughes curling a 25-yard free-kick just wide of the near post.

At the other end, Danny Johnson, who also spent some time at Prenton Park under Micky Adams, flashed one shot straight at Scott Davies from 20-yards.

A loose pass by Steve McNulty then provided Paddy McLaughlin with a shooting chance, and he truly tested the Rovers ‘keeper for the first time, with a stinging 25-yard shot palmed wide.

The two sides then traded shots before the break, with Johnson and Cook both failing to hit the target.

After half-time, Gateshead came out with a renewed sense of belief and drive.



Sam Jones was unlucky with a near post flick that was somehow saved at point blank range before Davies needed to be at his best to deny George Smith.



The full-back picked the ball up 30-yards from goal and unleashed a rasping effort that was heading for the top corner, only for the ‘keeper to spring to his left and palm clear.

Johnson was the next to come close, with his low shot tipped just wide as the hosts piled on the pressure.

Micky Mellon looked to stem the tide and introduced Wallace with just under half an hour to go.

And the midfielder certainly made a difference, with some characteristically full-blooded tackles helping to cut short a handful of attacks.

Indeed, the closest Gateshead came after his introduction was when Jones ducked inside his marker on the edge of the box, only to flash narrowly over.

In the closing moments, Tranmere showed their experience, with the likes of James Norwood and Hughes able to run the clock down.

The win means they move up to third in the table, behind only Lincoln and Forest Green.

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