Tranmere Rovers put on a five star show to beat Crawley Town 5-1 at Prenton Park.
A fantastic all round display from TRFC ensured we returned back to winning ways in emphatic style in League Two. A James Norwood brace sandwiched in and around goals from Connor Jennings, Adam Buxton and Paul Mullin enabled Rovers to respond to their midweek defeat at Forest Green in the best way possible.
The match took its time warming up with the cold weather possibly having an impact on the opening quarter. However after 25 minutes, Rovers, had the game’s first real goal scoring opportunity and Jennings made the most of it.
Having seen his previous long corners come to no avail, Banks played a short one-two with Larnell Cole, before whipping the ball into the box for Manny Monthe to get his head to. The centre back unselfishly headed the ball back across goal to the unmarked Jennings, who took one touch to control it before firing low into the back of the net.
Crawley had the chance to equalise on the half hour mark and visitor’s skipper Filipe Morais would have done so with a free kick from 20 yards out but for a fantastic save from Scott Davies, tipping the ball over the cross bar as it headed for the top corner.
Rovers then doubled their lead in amongst a flurry of chances within the half’s final few minutes. Quick thinking from Banks played Jake Caprice through down the right but his cross was just behind Norwood on the penalty spot. The next attack saw Jennings almost get his second but he just failed to get enough contact from Banks’ low cross from the right, giving the defender time to block it on the line.
Moments later, Rovers were 2-0 up. Caprice collected the ball on the right and dinked the ball over to Jennings in the ‘D’. The number-11 did expertly well to knock the ball on with his chest first time to Norwood about 10 yards out, and the Club’s top scorer calmly fired the ball across the goal into the bottom left of the net.
Rovers had to be alert defensively during the two additional minutes of the half as Crawley created their best chance, which resulted in George Francomb hitting an effort from the right of the six-yard box and forcing Davies to dive to his left and parry the ball away.
The visitors started the second half on the front foot however Rovers were always a threat on the break due to their pace and they made them pay with three goals in seven minutes. Cole broke forward before releasing Norwood, who attempted to round Glenn Morris, but the Crawley keeper got a hand to the ball to stall the striker and by the time Norwood got his effort away Romain Vincelot was on the line to clear it behind. However, Norwood immediately forgot about the miss as he headed in Banks’ resultant corner on 53 minutes for his tenth league goal of the season.
Only two minutes later Norwood was then sent through on goal again and this time he touched it past the onrushing Morris who clattered into him, giving Buxton the chance to score his first goal of the season. The full back made not mistake from the spot, firing his penalty into the top left corner.
Number nine Mullin then made it five on the our mark as he broke free on the right of the area after shrugging off the defensive pressure before thundering a shot into the roof of the net.
Everyone wanted to get in on the act and as a result when Crawley attacked there was more space for them to roam. The visitors capitalised on this when right back Lewis Young found a gap on the right to run into before crossing for Olly Palmer to tap home from no more than four yards out.
At this point there were still 25 minutes left but the game simmered down following Crawley’s consolation.
Buxton almost got his second goal with a freekick in the last ten minutes but it curled just wide, before Norwood should have bagged his hatrick when he received the ball in the six yard box following great work from substitute Jonny Smith to win the ball back, but his effort was right at Morris.
The win maintains their league position of seventh, but also opens up a four point gap with today’s opponents who are only three places behind them.
Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Monthe, Buxton, Mullin (75 Gilmour), McCullough, Banks, Jennings, Cole (83 Smith), Norwood. Unused subs: George, Mottley-Henry, Sutton, Harris, Williams.
Report by Jake Mathot