Tranmere 1-0 Dover: Report

A goal from Cole Stockton made him the King of Prenton Park as Tranmere drew level with Lincoln at the top of the National League.



The striker’s second half header secured a massive three points as Rovers beat Dover 1-0.



The Super White Army were bouncing by full time, with Stockton, who had not scored a league goal for the club since December 2014, a worthy hero.

Tranmere made one change from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Braintree, with Adam Buxton coming into the side in place of Ritchie Sutton.



This was the defender’s first start in the league for well over a month, ironically since he was controversially sent off by tonight’s referee during a 2-2 draw against Bromley.

Proceedings started slowly, with Steve McNulty and Dover’s top scorer Ricky Miller seemingly more interested in wrestling each other early on.



Rovers had the first chance with 14 minutes on the clock when Andy Cook met a deep Liam Ridehalgh cross but could only find the side netting from a tough angle.

The paired combined again shortly afterwards as the striker met another excellent whipped ball into the box, and this time his header needed tipping over.

Jeff Hughes then had a chance, finding acres of space as he ran onto a throw in and into the area but dragged well off target, whilst James Norwood fired over from the edge of the box.

Dover’s main tactic meanwhile was to pump the ball towards the corner flag and hope the pacy Moses Emmanuel could run on to it. 



A whistle happy referee made it difficult for either teams to get too much flow, as did the inability of the visitors to stay on their feet, treating the green Prenton Park surface like an ice skating rink.

Chris Kinnear, who spent a large percentage of the game barracking the fourth official, has got his side in a strong position to challenge for a play-off spot.


That meant three points could be important to them, but with five men at the back and a player booked for throwing the ball away within 23 minutes, they looked happy to settle for a point.

Miller did have one fantastic effort just before the break though, wriggling past Michael Ihiekwe and Jay Harris before ratting the woodwork with an effort that Scott Davies got his fingertips to.

Tranmere started the second half brightly, with a bursting run from Cook where he outmuscled two defenders ending in a shot being saved at the near post.

And then for the third time in as many games, Rovers were awarded a spot kick when Connor Jennings ran onto a throw and was brought down by Louis Fazackerley.

Hughes had missed the previous two penalties, so Norwood stepped up to take it but he could not convert either, seeing a low effort down the middle hit Mitch Walker’s legs and bounce to safety.

Micky Mellon was forced into a making substitute with 35 minutes left as Cook was replaced by Cole Stockton.


The striker, Rovers’ most lethal weapon, was already on a yellow before somehow avoiding a second booking for a poor tackle near the half-way line.



Fearing a sending off, the manager decided to sacrifice his top scorer to make sure he did not pick up a suspension.

You may think his absence would be telling, but that could not be further from the truth.


It looked like it would take a bit of magic to finally break the deadlock, and that came from the swinging boot of Ridehalgh.



The defender, who has picked up countless assists this season with his delicious left footed deliveries turned provider once again as Rovers took the lead with 20 minutes left.


He swung in a superb free-kick, and it was met by Stockton, unmarked at the back-post, who headed emphatically home.

From then on, Tranmere needed to show their mental strength and see the game out. True champions would be able to hold on from here. 



On the whole, they did a professional job, with Miller barely getting a touch upfront.



Indeed, they continued to see much of the ball, with Lee Vaughan having one low drive saved by Walker.

At the other end, Ross Lafayette saw a flicked header land on the roof of the net, and that was as much as Dover can muster, even with six minutes added on.

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