Paul Mullin’s late penalty secured a point for Tranmere Rovers in a 1-1 draw against Southend United at Prenton Park on Friday night.
Tom Hopper’s early opener had Southend ahead at the half-time interval, but Mullin’s late spot-kick ensured Rovers earned a point.
Manager Micky Mellon made three changes to the starting XI that won 1-0 away to Coventry City on Sunday, with David Perkins and Neil Danns returning to the squad, while there was a start for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
With the game three minutes old, Simon Cox struck a 25-yard volley which failed to find the target, as the visitors created the first chance.
Southend led after eight minutes played when forward Hopper raced through one-on-one with Scott Davies, dinking the ball left-footed over the on-rushing Rovers captain.
On the half-hour mark, Timothee Dieng wasted a great opportunity for the Shrimpers, heading wide after a corner was glanced back into his path by Mark Milligan.
Rovers almost found themselves two behind five minutes later, when Davies dropped the ball on the edge of his penalty box, with Cox’s resulting lobbed effort going over the crossbar and landing on the roof of the net.
Up the other end, Tranmere had openings at goal towards the end of play.
Firstly, midfielder Perkins dragged a low left-footed shot wide from 10-yards out after the ball had dropped to him.
Corey Blackett-Taylor then couldn’t test Southend goalkeeper Nathan Bishop, striking over from Kieron Morris’ cross from the right.
After the break, Rovers threatened in front of the Argyle Satellite Taxis Kop when Liam Ridehalgh’s free-kick from the left, which found Danns, who set up Morris, but the midfielder’s goal-bound effort through a sea of players was cleared to safety.
Davies then had to push Isaac Hutchinson’s right-footed rising attempt from outside the box over the crossbar following a fast breakaway, as Gary Waddock’s Essex outfit pushed for a second on their travels.
Rovers nearly levelled in bizarre circumstances nine minutes into the second-half, when Stefan Payne chased down Bishop’s kick, with the ball ricocheting off the forward and narrowly missed.
Connor Jennings and Mullin were introduced, with the pair replacing Hepburn-Murphy and Blackett-Taylor, as Rovers pushed for a way back into the contest.
In the final 20 minutes of action, centre-back George Ray was agonizingly close to pulling Mellon’s men level, but Rovers’ number five was denied from a sprawling stop by Bishop on the line.
Rovers continued to pile on the pressure, with Danns seeing a right-footed shot from the left-side of the box turned behind for a corner.
And Tranmere’s endeavour saw them level on 84 minutes from the penalty spot after Mullin was dragged down in the area by Nathan Ralph, as referee David Webb pointed to the spot.
Following a delay, Mullin stepped up to thump the ball right-footed straight down the middle past Bishop.
Rovers almost won it in the closing stages, but Jennings’ curled attempt was blocked, with a battling point being gained.
Next up for Tranmere in Sky Bet League One is a trip to the Stadium of Light to play Sunderland on Tuesday night, 7:45pm kick-off.
TRFC: Davies, Caprice, Ray, Monthe, Ridehalgh, Morris, Danns, Perkins, Blackett-Taylor (Mullin 70) Hepburn-Murphy, (Jennings 65) Payne
Subs not used: Nelson, Pilling, Borthwick-Jackson, Wilson, Ponticelli