Tranmere Rovers fell to a 5-2 defeat at Grimsby Town on Tuesday night despite two good goals from strike pair James Norwood and Paul Mullin.
TRFC made one change from the draw against Oldham Athletic, Harvey Gilmour replacing Ollie Banks, who missed out through injury at Blundell Park.
Rovers started on the front foot against Town and were dominating proceedings and their early pressure paid off as Norwood scored his 16th goal of the season in the tenth minute.
The centre forward was played through on goal after an excellent pass from Luke McCullough to go one on one with the keeper. With James McKeown racing out of his goal, Norwood calmly lifted the ball over Grimsby’s number one to give Mellon’s side the lead.
Tranmere continued to control the game, but the hosts thought they had equalised in the 24th minute when Wes Thomas bundled the ball home from a corner, but the striker was correctly ruled offside.
Two minutes later, Rovers and Norwood thought they had their second. A low cross from Jake Caprice was left cleverly by Mullin for strike partner Norwood to take the strike, but a strong hand from McKeown pushed the ball away for a corner kick.
In the 33rd minute, Grimsby pulled the score level as Clifton grabbed his first goal for the Mariners. The Town academy graduate headed home Charles Verman’s cross to tie proceedings.
But Tranmere didn’t let their heads drop, and still looked positive moving forward as Mullin had a great chance but was unable to test the goalkeeper.
At the other end, Grimsby’s Clifton was denied by Scott Davies from close range with a left footed strike as both teams now looked for the all-important third goal of the game.
And it was the Mariners that found the goal as the game changed within a matter of minutes as Thomas squeezed the ball despite strong claims of handball from the TRFC players with 40 minutes on the clock.
Into the second half, skipper Steve McNulty was replaced by fellow defender Ritchie Sutton. The game became a more difficult task for TRFC three minutes into the second half, as Davis slotted past Rovers keeper Davies after a goal mouth scramble.
Grimsby had another couple of half chances before Mellon made his second change, Dylan Mottley Henry replaced by Larnell Cole.
In the 64th minute, Tranmere pulled a goal back and it was a wonder strike by number nine Mullin. The forward, as he has done so well this season, collected the ball on the left, cut inside and bent a beauty of a strike into the top near corner.
With 18 minutes left, Zoumana Bakayogo was replaced by Liam Ridehalgh as Rovers pushed for a deserved equaliser.
Ridehalgh’s impact was immediate, a left hand side free-kick was dangerously swung in, the ball was cleared but only to Norwood, and his shot deflected off Gilmour and just wide.
However, the game was put out of reach for Tranmere with just less than ten minutes to play, Mitch Rose scoring from the penalty spot after mistimed slide tackle by a Rovers defender.
Norwood looked for a third and a lifeline for Tranmere as Jennings found space in the midfield to slip the striker in but his effort couldn’t test the goalkeeper.
As Rovers pushed, Grimsby scored a fifth on what turned out to be a tough night to take as Elliot Embleton latched onto a through ball and weaved his way through the visitors defence before finishing past Davies.
Rovers will now be looking to respond on Sunday when they host Southport in the FA Cup, 2pm kick-off at Prenton Park.
Davies, Caprice, McNulty (Sutton 46), Monthe, Bakyaogo (Ridehalgh 72), Mottley Henry (Cole 60), Gilmour, McCullough, Jennings, Norwood, Mullin. Unused subs: George, Stockton, Harris, Smith.
Attendance: 3,293 (203 away fans)