Goals from John Welsh and Joss Labadie weren't enough for Rovers as their unbeaten start to the season came to an end with a dramatic 3-2defeat at Notts County.
Welsh handed Rovers the lead early in the first half and Rovers took their advantage into half time. However, two goals in eight minutes put Martin Allen's County ahead only for Labadie to level with ten minutes left.
But as the game went into injury time, first Dave Raven was shown a red card for handball before Adam McGurk suffered the same fate. But his offence took place on the goal line and from the resulting penalty County scored the winner.
Les Parry opted for the same team that defeated Leyton Orient 1-0 four days earlier, with youth team keeper John Courtney again on the bench due to Andy Coughlin's hip injury.
Lee Hughes forced Owain Fon Williams into a save in the first minute when he flicked a free kick goalwards and a minute later the home side were awarded another set piece outside the area when Craig Westcarr was ruled to have been fouled by referee Michael Naylor. Ricky Ravenhill aimed a shot towards the Tranmere goal but his effort struck Adam McGurk in the Tranmere wall and the danger was briefly cleared. The ball only went as far as the left wing and it was soon played back into the area and it needed a strong pair of hands from Fon Williams to push Cristian Montano's shot away from goal.
Rovers coped with the early pressure and responded well. On ten minutes a long ball from Ian Goodison found Enoch Showunmi who flicked it down to Adam McGurk. The striker stepped inside and saw his right foot shot from 20 yards tipped around the post. From the resulting corner Tranmere took the lead. Andy Robinson sent a low ball through the area, Martin Devaney stepped over it and John Welsh smashed a shot into the top right corner from 12 yards.
It wasn't far off 1-1 on 15 minutes. After Mark McChrystal conceded a free kick on the edge of the area, the ball was rolled to Westcarr who curled a shot narrowly past the right hand post.
A fine save from Fon Williams denied Montano again on 16 minutes, this time the former Welsh Under-21 international diving low to his left to keep out a first time shot, while another free kick from Alan Sheehan curled just beyond the Rovers goal minutes later.
After Showunmi narrowly failed to connect with an inswinging McGurk free kick on 24 minutes Rovers were forced into a change as a head injury saw Ian Goodison replaced by Michael Kay and Dave Raven move into the centre of defence.
A push on Kay inside the County area went unpunished on 28 minutes at a Tranmere free kick while a long break in play for an injury to Ravenhill followed soon after.
David Buchanan and Showunmi were forced to concede a couple of corners as the game approached halftime while Raven did well to block Alan Judge's low effort from the edge of the area. The home side continued to press and a volley from Hughes went just past the right hand post on 45 minutes.
Five minutes of time were added on for injuries during which Montano fired over the bar and Hughes headed wide from a free kick, while Robinson shot wide at the other end for Tranmere.
On 52 minutes the home side drew level. A County attack was only cleared as far as 25 yards out from where Julian Kelly superbly volleyed through a crowded area and past Fon Williams into the bottom left corner.
Rovers were agonisingly close to regaining the lead on 58 minutes. A long range effort from McGurk left Stuart Nelson standing, cannoned off the left hand post, hit the keeper's legs and ran behind for a corner.
Lucas Akins replaced Devaney on 60 minutes but he'd been on the pitch just seconds when Rovers fell behind. A long free kick forward bounced over Fon Williams, hit the bar and went into the net off the Tranmere keeper.
And Fon Williams had to deny Hughes a minute later as the striker ran into a one on one, while at the other end Raven's first touch took the ball too close to the County keeper as he looked to level at the back post.
Robbie Weir almost curled a shot around the keeper and into the far corner on 65 minutes but Nelson's outstretched arm kept the ball out and Akins volleyed over from the edge of the area soon after.
There were worrying moments for Tranmere just after the hour mark when Fon Williams required treatment and Rovers had already used all three substitutes. However, the keeper was able to continue after a couple of minutes down on the pitch.
Rovers levelled on 80 minutes with the second of two free kicks in quick succession. After McGurk and Welsh stepped over the ball, Labadie's low effort flew past Nelson into the bottom left corner.
The final ten minutes saw play broken up with a number of free kicks in both directions. Six minutes of added time gave both teams the chance to look for a winner and County were given a late advantage when Raven was shown his second yellow card of the game for handball.
Rovers were down to nine men moments later when McGurk was ruled to have handled on the line and from the penalty that followed County netted the winner, Jeff Hughes sending Fon Williams the wrong way.
Notts County: Nelson, Kelly (Stirling 84), Sheehan, Edwards, Pearce, Lee Hughes, Bishop, Jeff Hughes, Ravenhill (Judge 35), Westcarr, Montano (Hawley 77). Substitutes not used: Burch, Demontagnac.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Raven, Goodison (Kay 24), McChrystal, Buchanan, Welsh, Weir, Robinson (Labadie 45 HT), Devaney (Akins 60), Showunmi, McGurk. Substitutes not used: Courtney, Bakayogo.
Referee: Michael Naylor
Yellow cards: McChrystal (14), Raven (18), Sheehan (24). Devaney (42), Pearce (54), Judge (76), Westcarr (79), Labadie (82), McGurk (90), Bishop (90)
Red card: Raven (90+3), McGurk (90+5)
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