Tranmere Rovers’ Carabao Cup journey came to an abrupt end as a solid Walsall display saw them beat the Whites 1-3 at PrentonPark on Tuesday evening.
Goals from Morgan Ferrier, Josh Ginnelly and Zeli Ismail gave the away side a three-goal advantage going into the final 15 minutes before Larnell Cole got one back for Mellon’s side.
Tranmere have started off in well their opening two games well this season, and today was no different. However, they failed to make the most of their opening chances.
Good work by Paul Mullin down the near touchline before a quick one-two with Ben Tollitt gave Ollie Banks a chance from distance but his shot was inches over the crossbar.
After a good passing move, Banks was again on the edge and this time drilled a shot low which was brilliantly palmed around the post by Chris Dunn.
Meanwhile, Walsall did have an opportunity to make the home side pay for missing chances, but Andy Cook, under pressure from Manny Monthe, could only slice his shot over the bar.
Just before the half hour mark, totally against the run of play, the away side had a chance to get down the far side with Morgan Ferrier, who cut in and placed a shot in the bottom far corner and gave George no chance.
After going a goal behind, an immediate change was made. Steve McNulty replaced Zoumana Bakayogo and Rovers nearly gave an immediate response, with Banks’ 25-yard deflected strike hitting the woodwork.
Just before half time, Walsall had a chance to double the lead. On the right-hand side Ginnelly managed to find space to flash a shot across the face of goal, but it narrowly missed the target.
It was a dull start to the second half by Rovers, with Walsall dominating immediately after half time.
Three chances in the opening ten minutes for the visitors, firstly Cook was denied with a neat save from George after Leahy crossed in, before Dobson put his free kick just over the bar from 20 yards.
It was all Walsall after that, with Tranmere going more attacking in the second period, this gave Dean Keates' side a chance to capitalise and they did.
Firstly, a goal from a throw in, which was headed out by Gilmour only as far as Ginnelly who fired his shot past George.
The Saddlers were not finished there when they made it 3-0 as Zeli Ismail got clear of his man on half way and then drilled his effort past the Tranmere keeper into the far bottom corner of the net, securing the win for the away side.
With no other real chances to note for Rovers, they managed to get a goal back with a little over ten minutes to go.
Larnell Cole smashed a shot into the top right corner of the net giving Dunn no chance, after a free kick which was whipped in, was headed down by Ellis.
There was still time for either side to snatch a goal in the closing stages, bringing an eventful 90 minutes to an end.
Former Rovers front man Andy Cook had the chance to head home from a cross, but his effort was way below what Rovers’ fans were used to seeing last campaign.
Rovers had the last chance of the match, Jonny Smith who has been impressive since his loan arrival from BristolCity fired inches wide of the bottom right in the last kick of the game.
TRANMERE ROVERS: 23. Shamal George, 6. Manny Monthe, 7. Ben Tollitt (18. Jonny Smith 63), 9. Paul Mullin, 14. Jake Caprice, 16. Mark Ellis, 20. Cole Stockton, 22. Harvey Gilmour, 24. Zoumana Bakayogo (c) (5. Steve McNulty 29), 28. Ollie Banks (8. Jay Harris 70), 29 Larnell Cole
Unused substitutes: 40. Patrick Wharton, 10. James Norwood, 11. Connor Jennings, 30. Carl Spellman
WALSALL: 13. Chris Dunn, 3. Luke Leahy, 4. George Dobson (c), 5. John Guthrie, 9. Andy Cook, 10. Zeli Ismail (8. Kieran Morris 72), 11. Josh Ginnelly, 15. Liam Kinsella, 16. Morgan Ferrier (29. Josh Gordon 62), 27. Jack Fitzwater, 28. Kane Wilson
Unused substitutes: 1. Liam Roberts, 6. Nicky Devlin, 17. Maz Koumyar, 30. Isaiah Osbourne
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Attendance: 3817 (355 away)