Tranmere Rovers slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday. Danny Cashman’s late goal won the clash for Dale with Rovers hitting the post twice.
Manager Micky Mellon handed Josh Hawkes his first start in a TRFC shirt, whilst Callum McManaman also came into the starting line-up.
Early on in Greater Manchester, Kieron Morris was in place to defend Matt Done’s strike, after a corner to the far post.
The hosts created the first chance of the game on 10 minutes, when Jake Beesley ran onto a pass, turned Peter Clarke in the box and forced Joe Murphy to keep out the effort high to his left which was heading for the top corner.
Rovers were almost ahead three minutes later, as Josh Hawkes turned his marker before bending an effort which crashed off Joel Coleman’s far post, before being cleared to safety.
Both sides then traded opportunities midway through the half, with Hawkes driving wide after a mazy run, prior to Eoghan O’Connell glancing a free-kick past Murphy’s far post.
Rovers later had to deal with significant pressure, and Aaron Morley’s corner dropped in the box, causing a goal-mouth scramble which Beesley wasted
Abraham Odoh then spurned a great opening, dragging off target from 12-yards out after Jimmy Keohane’s pullback.
Tom Davies and Nathaniel Knight-Percival were on hand to clear dangerous crosses into the Rovers box, as the first-half ended goalless.
When play resumed after half-time, Clarke was positioned to calmy head Morley’s cross back into the grasp of Murphy.
Looking to switch things up, Mellon made his first change of the afternoon, bringing Liam Feeney on for McManaman on 49 minutes.
A fast breakaway sent Josh Dacres-Cogley racing down the right, though Elliott Nevitt was unable to beat a Dale defender with his shot.
The game was then stopped for several minutes when Murphy received treatment after colliding with Clarke, who left the pitch on a stretcher, to be replaced by Ross Doohan.
Jay Spearing was in the right place to intercept possession from the feet of Odoh, with Rochdale asking questions.
Nevitt was unfortunate not to reach Dacres-Cogley cross after neat build-up play involving Feeney, which was palmed away by Coleman at the back post.
In the closing 20 minutes of action, Doohan stood firm to gather Corey O’Keeffe’s cross into a crowded box.
Morley was next to try his luck for Rochdale, and after manoeuvring his way into space, his rising shot went over.
Mellon swapped Ryan Watson for Sam Foley late on, with the contest yet to produce the decisive moment.
Feeney’s cross was clawed out for a corner by Coleman, with the resulting set-piece met by Clarke, but Dale defended strongly again.
Up the other end, Doohan made a superb stop from Max Taylor’s close-range effort.
But Rovers were behind on 84 minutes, when substitute Cashman found Doohan’s bottom right-corner inside the box.
In an attempt to level, Nicky Maynard was thrown on for Davies, and in the eight minutes of added time, Rovers pushed.
Foley struck the post from a matter of yards, which bounced to safety. Rovers were unable to find that elusive equaliser.
Tranmere: Murphy (Doohan 61), Dacres-Cogley, Clarke, Davies (Maynard 85), Knight-Percival, Morris, Spearing, Watson (Foley 78), Hawkes, McManaman (Feeney 49), Nevitt. Subs not used: Duffy, Walker, Glatzel.
Our next game is at Prenton Park on Tuesday as we play host to Leeds United U21s. Tickets are on sale now, so please visit trfctickets.co.uk for full details.