Tranmere Rovers secured a memorable 1-0 home triumph against league leaders Lincoln City
Tranmere forward James Norwood scored the only goal of a highly competitive encounter in the second half before he was sent off for time wasting in second half stoppage time.
Rovers boss Micky Mellon named an unchanged side from the last outing against MK Dons on Saturday afternoon.
It was the visitors who fashioned out the first chance of the match under the lights at PrentonPark. Harry Toffolo’s corner was met by the towering presence of striker John Akinde in the third minute, but his attempt was saved impressively by Scott Davies low down to his right hand side.
Just a minute later, Danny Cowley’s men had another golden opportunity. Shay McCarten latched on to a through ball and rounded Davies in the Tranmere net, but skipper Stephen McNulty was positioned in the right place at the right time to deny an early Lincoln breakthrough.
Tempers flared 11 minutes in as Imps captain Lee Frecklington was involved in a off the ball altercation with Tranmere talisman Norwood, resulting in the home crowd ramping up the atmosphere.
This support appeared to have a positive effect on the players in white, as the intensity of the game grew with imperious sliding challenges from the centre back pairing of McNulty and Manny Monthe; despite a lack of clear cut chances being created by either side.
Rovers first opportunity came in the 33rd minute after Norwood’s delightful cushioned header found the unmarked Cole Stockton in the area, but he snatched at a difficult volleyed attempt which rolled comfortably into the grateful arms of Lincoln keeper Josh Vickers.
The final action of the first half came when a McNulty glanced header from a corner was temporarily spilled by Vickers but to no avail. The away side immediately responded with a lightening counter attack which found winger Bruno Andrade one on one with Davies, but his left foot strike was wide of the mark.
Mellon made his first substitution of the game at the break with Stockton being replaced by Harvey Gilmour.
The second half began slowly, but sprung into life after Rovers had two penalty claims waved away by referee Andy Haines in the space of 60 seconds.
Waves of pressure followed with the help of the Tranmere faithful in The Essar Kop End as Norwood had Vickers diving at full stretch in the 51st minute, but his headed attempt in the box narrowly glanced past the side netting.
Man of the moment, Norwood, finally got his rewards when he broke the deadlock just past the hour mark. The exciting number ten found himself with just the keeper to beat in the 18 yard box, calmly placing the ball into the bottom right corner.
The table toppers responded with a chance of their own five minutes later as Harry Anderson was denied by an excellent Davies finger tip save, and soon later substitute Matt Green’s speculative bicycle kick was fired over the crossbar.
Mellon made his second substitution of the match with just ten minutes remaining. Jonny Smith, who scored the only goal in a draw against the Dons last time out, was replaced by Dylan Mottley-Henry.
The hosts almost doubled their lead in stoppage time when Ollie Banks long range strike sailed agonisingly wide. However, there was some late drama for Mellon’s side as goal scorer Norwood was dismissed after wasting time in the opposition’s half.
Rovers will be hoping they can gain confidence from the three points as they travel to Morecambe this weekend looking for another win.
Davies, Buxton, McNulty, Monthe, Norwood, Jennings, McCullough, Smith (Mottley- Henry 81), Stockton (Gilmour 45), Bakayogo, Banks
Unused subs: George, Mullin, Caprice, Ellis, Cole
By Joe Sargent