Rushian Hepburn-Murphy’s first-half goal secured Tranmere Rovers a 1-0 home win over AFC Wimbledon at Prenton Park on Saturday.
Hepburn-Murphy struck just before the half-hour mark to give Rovers a deserved triumph on a crisp Wirral winter afternoon.
The result moves Tranmere onto 20 points in the Sky Bet League One table, to give the SWA an early Christmas present.
Manager Micky Mellon made just the one change from last weekend’s game at Lincoln City, as Morgan Ferrier came in for the suspended Corey Blackett-Taylor.
Midfielder David Perkins led out Rovers wearing the armband in the absence of Scott Davies.
Rovers engineered the first chance of the contest inside five minutes. Connor Jennings teed up Kieron Morris to unleash a powerful strike which forced Dons goalkeeper Nathan Trott to tip over his own crossbar.
Up the other end, the visitors threatened through Callum Reilly’s long-range low drive from 25-yards, which Aaron Chapman did well to get down to his left to turn the ball away for a corner.
From the resulting corner kick, captain Joe Pigott headed straight at Chapman, in what was a comfortable stop for the stopper on loan from Peterborough United.
Tranmere looked to assert their early pressure, going close again when Jake Caprice crossed from the right side of the penalty area, but Hepburn-Murphy steered his header over.
Rovers were in front on 28 minutes courtesy of Hepburn-Murphy, who bundled in right-footed from six-yards following a goal mouth scramble after Trott had thwarted Jennings when a set-piece wasn’t cleared.
Buoyed by their opener, Tranmere nearly doubled their advantage. Neil Danns receiving Perkins’ pass to strike with the outside of his boot, which went narrowly past the bottom left-hand post.
Searching for an equaliser, Glyn Hodges’ outfit had efforts from Pigott and frontman Marcus Forss go begging.
Morris as well Hepburn-Murphy both tried their luck from distance, neither testing Trott.
Play resumed for the second-half, and the away side upped their tempo.
Firstly, Terell Thomas glanced his looping header past the upright, while Chapman had to hold onto Mitchell Pinnock’s well-struck effort along the turf.
Rovers’ left-back Liam Ridehalgh twice had to divert danger away after deep crosses, which saw the hosts come under pressure.
Sid Nelson helped preserve Rovers’ position through a fantastic tackle inside the box on Pigott after a through ball had made its way into a dangerous position.
Hepburn-Murphy later thumped a shot into the side-netting from the right-hand side of the box.
On the hour, Tranmere had a great opportunity to make it two, but having been fed by Hepburn-Murphy, Danns was denied by Trott from eight yards out.
Paul Mullin replaced Ferrier as Mellon made his first change of the afternoon on 68 minutes to freshen up the attack.
In the closing 20 minutes, Jennings’ low cross from the right went through a crowd of players, landing for Hepburn-Murphy, who hit a first-time shot off target.
Hepburn-Murphy was then kept out by Trott in a one-on-one situation, prior to Jennings smashing the crossbar.
Chapman was called into action as he watched Reilly’s bobbling strike to safely collect it in his grasp.
Darren Potter was later introduced for Danns while Morris came off for Calum Woods, with Tranmere looking to see the game out.
And Rovers claimed a big victory ahead of a Boxing Day trip to Burton Albion, 3pm kick-off. And don't forget the game is available to watch live on iFollow. To subscribe, please CLICK HERE with a match pass for the game just £10.
TRFC: Chapman, Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Morris (Woods 87), Danns (Potter 83), Perkins ©, Jennings, Ferrier (Mullin 67), Hepburn-Murphy
Subs not used: Pilling, Ray, Ponticelli, Payne