Tranmere kicked off the 2013-14 season with a 3-1 defeat at Walsall.
Rovers conceded early on and again midway through the first 45 minutes. Andy Robinson's strike late in the half brought Ronnie Moore's side back into the game but the Saddlers sealed the points twenty minutes from time.
Moore handed debuts to Stephen Foster, Evan Horwood, Chris Atkinson, Akpo Sodje while Jason Koumas and James Rowe were named on the substitutes' bench.
The Saddlers opened the scoring with the first shot of the game. A corner from the left reached James Chambers at the back of the area and his low cross was turned in at the near post by Craig Westcarr.
The home side went close again soon after, with Andy Butler heading wide at the back post and Owain Fon Williams having to save a long range free kick from Sam Mantom on 20 minutes.
Fon Williams reacted quickly to keep out Ashley Hemmings' deflected shot on 22 minutes and saved again from Mantom seconds later as the Saddlers kept up the pressure.
A misplaced pass from Ash Taylor allowed Walsall to launch a counter attack on 24 minutes and it led to the second goal of the game. The ball eventually reached Milan Lalkovic 25 yards out and the Chelsea loanee fired first time into the bottom right corner.
Rovers' first shot of the game came on 29 minutes. A corner from the left was crossed in by Andy Robinson but Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro blazed over from 10 yards from Foster's knock down.
Fon Williams saved Baxendale's low 20 yard shot on 37 minutes but three minutes later Rovers pulled a goal back. A surging run from Max Power started a move that eventually saw Horwood brought down just outside the penalty area wide on the left. From the resulting free kick Robinson curled a shot straight past Richard O'Donnell and into the top right corner.
Despite Walsall's dominance it could have been level at half time. A flick on from Sodje reached Lowe on the edge of the area in the first minute of added time and the striker's shot on the turn forced O'Donnell to tip over his bar, while Sodje headed Robinson's cross wide from the resulting corner.
Rovers enjoyed a greater share of the possession early in the second half but they were unable to turn it into a clear chance on goal. The breakthrough almost came on 56 minutes. A neat passing move involving Power, Robinson and Lowe saw the ball played into the area for Akpa Akpro to run to but the striker put his effort into the side netting.
Koumas replaced Atkinson on 65 minutes but the midfielder had barely had a touch when the Saddlers took a 3-1 lead. A through ball from Lalkovic allowed Westcarr to run in behind the Rovers defence and knock the ball past Fon Williams from close range for his second of the afternoon.
Rovers almost had a second late in the half when Koumas hit the cross bar from a 20 yard free kick while Sodje's acrobatic overhead follow up went narrowly wide. Sodje appealed for a penalty deep in injury time when he went down under a challenge from Malvind Benning but referee Brendan Malone waved play on and blew the final whistle moments later.
Walsall: O'Donnell, Butler, Adam Chambers (Holden 78), Mantom, Lalkovic, Westcarr (Hewitt 90+1), Hemmings, Downing, Benning, James Chambers, Baxendale (Sawyers 78). Substitutes: Purkiss, Featherstone, Lewis, Morris.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Foster, Horwood, Robinson, Power, Atkinson (Koumas 65), Akpa Akpro (Baggie 79), Lowe, Sodje. Substitutes: Mooney, Goodison, Rowe, Thompson, Stockton.
Referee: Brendan Malone
Yellow cards: Akpa Akpro (36), Power (45), Holmes (57), Koumas (87), Horwood (90)
Read more at http://www.tranmererovers.co.uk/news/article/report-walsall-030813-965325.aspx#sY1M5VIwu8c1UpxJ.99