By Aidan Jones
Tranmere Rovers had not played at home in the league since May 2015 and marked their return to the EFL with a 1-0 victory at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a James Norwood wonder strike.
The Whites started off the game the better side, having the majority of possession and numerous chances in the first ten minutes.
The first coming the way of Cole Stockton after good play in the middle allowed the ball to be sprayed wide for Jennings to cross in but the ball went just above Stockton’s head and out for a throw-in.
Shortly after, a misjudged back pass on half way by Jay Harris, laid the ball in front of Manny Duku who had time on the ball, but was soon crowded by the Rovers backline and eventually the ball was sent out of danger by Banks.
Tranmere just kept on attacking Cheltenham’s goal and that lead to a fabulous result, when Cole Stockton settled the ball for James Norwood to send a thunderous volley into the top right corner to give the home side the lead!
Micky Mellon’s men nearly doubled that lead, this time it was Jonny Smith who had a shot blocked by a defender out for a corner.
The away side did have their chances, and Tranmere did have to be alert especially when Scott Davies denied Boyle with a flick header after Dawson had crossed the ball in.
Other than that chance, it was all attack for the home side, who could have been three or four goals up after half an hour when Flinders fingertipped a Stockton shot over the bar, before having to claw wide from the resulting corner!
There was no real break in attacks from Tranmere, as it was a constant flow throughout the first half.
The next chance came five minutes before half time, when Stockton headed wide of the near post, after a backheel from Norwood to Bakayogo who crossed in.
The second half carried on from where the first half left off, after Cheltenham free kick which hit the wall was cleared for Bakayogo, before finding Smith who touched it into the path of Norwood but the striker blasted wide of the mark.
The away side were a different team second half, and it was a lot more even which inevitably made the start of the second half a scrappy affair.
After a lot of the play in the middle of the park, we had to wait until the 70th minute for our next clear chance on goal. Norwood nearly doubled the lead as he managed to latch onto a Bakayogo ball and forced a low save from Flinders which took the ball away from Stockton for a corner.
12 minutes from time, Rovers had hearts in mouths as the visitors had a rare shot on goal, which came for substitute Addai who curled an effort inches wide of Davies’ and just past the post.
With five minutes to go, Rovers were less than inches off doubling their lead, after three successive corners by Tranmere, the visitors stood strong. After good work from Tollitt on the left, the ball then came to Banks outside the box who struck the left post with an effort from 25-yards.
The last few minutes made for interesting watching for the faithful at Prenton Park, with Rovers trying to double their lead while Cheltenham tried to prevent two defeats in a row. Gilmour drilled a low cross in to Norwood from the right who tried to backheel it past Flinders but could not finish.
In the dying moments, Cheltenham sent a free kick into the box which was headed away before referee Ben Toner ended a terrific match.
Rovers ended their second match in Sky Bet League Two in eighth place on goal difference, as they look to take a break from league action on Tuesday night to play Walsall at home in the Carabao Cup.
TRANMERE ROVERS: 1. Scott Davies, 4. Ritchie Sutton (Manny Monthe 45+1), 5. Stephen McNulty ©, 8. Jay Harris, 10. James Norwood, 11. Connor Jennings, 14. Jake Caprice, 18. Jonny Smith (7. Ben Tollitt 64) , 20. Cole Stockton (22. Harvey Gilmour 72), 24. Zoumanna Bakayogo, 28. Ollie Banks
Unused substitutes: 23. Shamal George, 9. Paul Mullin, 16. Mark Ellis, 29. Larnell Cole
CHELTENHAM TOWN: 1. Scott Flinders, 4. Ben Tozer, 5. Jonny Mullins ©, 6. Nigel Atangana, 8. Kevin Dawson (11. Ryan Broom 63), 9. Manny Duku (Kelvin Kalala 45+1), 10. Liam McAlinden (16. Alex Addai 72), 15. Will Boyle, 17. Joshua Debayo, 20. Jacob Maddox, 21. Aden Baldwin
Unused substitutes: 22. Rhys Lovett, 7. Connor Thomas, 14. Tom Smith, 22. Jordan Forster
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 6484 (154 away)