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Match Report


Posted Tue 15 Jan 13 at 21:17 PM

Three first half goals earned Rovers a 3-1 win over Stevenage and moved them up to fifth place in League 1. 
Zoumana Bakayogo, who was playing in a left wing role, opened the scoring early in the first half only for Stevenage to equalise soon after through Luke Freeman. 
However, Ben Gibson's first goal for the Club and a second from Bakayogo sealed the vitory that could have been by a greater margin. 
There was one change to the team that lost at MK Dons with Abdulai Bell-Baggie coming in for Danny Harrison. Mamady Sidibe made his first appearance at Prenton Park while Ben Gibson was making his first start at home since rejoining the Club on loan from Middlesbrough. 
Sidibe met a Danny Holmes cross with a header that forced a save out of Steve Arnold in the second minute while Robin Shroot tested Owain Fon Williams at the opposite end two minutes later with a lot 25-yard shot. 
The game came to life in the the tenth minute. A cross from Bell-Baggie hung in the wind and was dropped by Arnold. The ball landed at the feet of Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and though his shot was blocked Zoumana Bakayogo reacted quickly to turn in from close range. 
However the lead was shortlived. A foul by Paul Black gave Stevenage a shooting opportunity from 20 yards and Luke Freeman curled a free kick just inside the left hand post with Fon Williams unable to keep the ball out. 
Gibson and Akpa Akpro both saw close range shots blocked as Rovers looked to retake the lead. The latter had to be palmed away from goal by Arnold, giving Tranmere a corner in the process. The set piece was cleared for another corner from which Rovers went back ahead. Stevenage failed to clear their area and possession fell to Gibson whose first time shot deflected into the left side of the net for his first goal for the Club. 
It could have been 3-1 on 20 minutes when Akpa Akpro got behind Stevenage's player / caretaker manager Mark Roberts in running on to a through ball from Max Power but his side foot shot from 15 yards went wide of the target. 
Former Rovers winger Lucas Akins narrowly missed the target with a 25 yard effort for the visitors on 21 minutes but the action quickly went back up the other end. 
After Sidibe fired over the bar from a Bakayogo lay off, Palmer repeated the feat from a half cleared corner. Danny Holmes brought a save out of Arnold with a first time shot from the right side of the area and Palmer tested the keeper on 32 minutes. 
Rovers' pressure paid off on 38 minutes. A long ball from Gibson should have been comfortably dealt with by the Stevenage defence but a mix up between Arnold and David Gray gave Bakayogo the chance to race between the pair and stroke a low shot past the keeper from 15 yards. 
The visitors responded brightly. A Dani Lopez shot was blocked inside the Rovers six yard box and Max Power dispossessed Freeman as he was about to shoot on 41 minutes following a good run from Akins. 
There was one final chance before haf time for Rovers when Palmer's chipped pass found Ash Taylor on the edge of the six yard box but his shot hit the body of Arnold and went behind for a corner. 
Rovers went close to a fourth on 55 minutes. Akpa Akpro headed the ball over Roberts and ran around the defender, cut inside and saw his right foot shot cleared off the line. The ball rebounded to Bakayogo whose first time effort was blocked and again it fell to a Rovers shirt but Akpa Akpro's follow up was also cleared. 
At the opposite end a Taylor clearance deflected into the path of Shroot six yards out but the Stevenage striker shot wide of Fon Williams' goal while the Rovers keeper comfortably saved a 20 yard shot from Freeman. 
Gibson fired a 25 yard free kick over the bar on 68 minutes following a foul on Sidibe and Rovers should have had a fourth five minutes later. Akpa Akpro brushed off two challenges to get into the penalty area before finding Sidibe but the Stoke City loanee fired over from 12 yards. 
Michael O'Halloran replaced Bell-Baggie with ten minutes remaining and David Amoo came on for Bakayogo four minutes later after the defender pulled up with cramp. 
Stevenage substitute Greg Tansey shot over from 20 yards on 90 minutes and Sam Hoskins hit the side netting after getting past Black in the first minute of injury time. 

Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Gibson, Black, Bell-Baggie (O'Halloran 80), Palmer, Power, Bakayogo (Amoo 84), Sidibe, Akpa Akpro. Substitutes: Mooney, Kay, Goodison, Harrison, Stockton. 

Stevenage: Arnold, Gray, Charles, Grant (Tansey 82), Dunne, Akins, Freeman, Roberts, N'Gala, Lopez (Hoskins 73), Shroot. Substitutes: Jeffrey, Day, Comminges, Beleck, Iro.

Referee: Graham Scott

Yellow cards: Dunne (25)

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