Defeat on final day of the league season
By Jake Mathot
A much more experienced side was chosen by Micky Mellon, with only Josh Ginnelly keeping his place from Tuesday night's defeat to Solihull Moors.
On several occasions, Tranmere's pace in their attack caught out Hartlepool's lesser mobility in what seemed to be a high defensive line, with Josh Ginnelly almost profiting from this on two occasions.
Firstly, he just failed to get sufficient contact on the ball before a lack of communication between Ginnelly and James Norwood saw them get in each other's way before the former rushed a shot past the onrushing Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Loach and his toe poke trickled wide.
Norwood also had an opportunity saved by Loach who recovered well after it seemed the striker had rounded him.
Rovers looked to have overcome their early jitters where a couple of loose passes led to some half chances for their opposition including a Lewis Hawkins effort requiring the legs of Scott Davies to turn it behind.
But on the stroke of half time, a short corner was whipped low into the area and Liam Donnelly was adjudged to have been fouled as he controlled the ball in the area. Donnelly then stepped up to fire the ball into the bottom right corner, with Davies' palm to the ball not quite enough to keep it out.
It was Hartlepool who had the ascendency at the start of the second half, maintaining possession inside Tranmere's half.
Ginnelly once again showed why Mellon showed faith in keeping him in the team by almost setting up Cook on a break away for the hosts.
Poor defending from a left wing corner led to The Pools doubling their advantage as the ball wasn't cleared and it fell to Rhys Oates who found the space to back heel the ball into the net, past Mitchell Duggan's efforts to stop it on the line.
Rovers did pull a goal back with 13 minutes remaining, when Jeff Hughes caught Loach out at his near post with a superb curling free kick from 25 yards out.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies; Harris, McNulty, Sutton, Ridehalgh; Ginnelly, Cole (Duggan 68), Norburn, Hughes; Cook, Norwood. Subs: Taylor, Monthe, Mangan, Clarke.
Hartlepool United: Loach, Hawkins, Rodney, Laing, Cassidy, Adams, Donaldson, Featherstone, Donnelly, Newton, Magnay. Subs: Catterick, Harrison, Hawkes, Orrell, Oates.
Attendance: 5499 (738)