Tranmere Rovers’ unbeaten pre-season run came to an end as they suffered a late 2-1 loss to Premier League opposition this afternoon at Prenton Park with Dwight McNeil scoring a thunderous strike in the last few minutes of normal time.
Burnley beat Tranmere with their first team after a late change to the fixture with it originally being scheduled to be against their Under 23 side.
Unfortunately, the trio of Calum MacDonald, Joe Maguire and Kieron Morris who missed the draw against Sunderland were also unavailable for this pre-season game.
There were two changes from the starting line-up against Sunderland with Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Ryan Watson being replaced by Peter Clarke, who was the captain for the clash, and Sam Foley respectively.
The first half began with Burnley kicking off and in the first ten minutes it was all them.
They set the tone in the first few seconds with a long ball in behind down the left, but it was defended well by Tranmere which would become a constant theme throughout the first half.
Another ball in behind soon after again led to nothing but after five minutes there was the first chance of the game, and it was for Burnley.
A disguised pass from Ashley Westwood put Ashley Barnes in and it looked harder to miss but from close range Joe Murphy pulled off a magnificent save to deny the striker.
Ten minutes in and Tranmere’s right-hand side was getting bombarded with attacks and it was Dwight McNeil at the heart of it all putting in crosses, but Tom Davies and Peter Clarke coped with it well.
Then Tranmere had their first chance of the game nearly converted for them by the opposition.
Callum McManaman put in a cross from the right looking for Emmanuel Dieseruvwe however the big striker could not get on the end of it and Burnley right-back Matt Lowton inadvertently nearly headed it into his own goal.
Only a save from Wayne Hennessey denied Micky Mellon’s men from taking the lead.
It looked like Tranmere took some confidence from that and created another opening with Jay Spearing playing a nice ball in to Paul Glatzel who could only poke his effort at the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
After the 15-minute mark Burnley took back control and were making openings that they couldn’t finish off with McNeil yet again orchestrating all of the attacks but the Tranmere backline stood firm defining several set-pieces.
Against the run of play it looked like The Super White Army had taken the lead through number nine Dieseruvwe.
Callum McManaman, who was Tranmere’s main threat in the first half, got his shot away and Wayne Hennessey spilt the effort right in front of Dieseruvwe.
The 26-year-old prodded the ball home, but the linesman took his time and ended up putting his flag up for offside.
Two minutes later Joe Murphy was called into action again and this time round it was arguably a better save than before.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson was sent through on goal and it looked certain he would put The Clarets into the lead, but Murphy got down sharply to his right to parry the effort away.
The last ten minutes of the half were much more even.
An opening was created for Josh Cogley by Callum McManaman and it looked like a great opportunity to pull the ball back with Glatzel in a great position however Cogley took the shot on and it was a wild attempt.
Jay Rodriguez had another chance shortly after, but his header went sailing over the ball after a cross from Matt Lowton.
The last chance of the half fell to Tranmere’s big man, Dieseruvwe, who had a shot on the edge of the box which left Hennessey scrambling but unfortunately, he dragged the effort just wide.
Two substitutions were made before kick-off for the second half with Peter Clarke and Liam Feeney going off to be replaced by Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Trialist respectively.
The opening ten minutes of the second half did not follow the same fashion as the first with neither team really making a goalscoring opportunity.
Jay Spearing was pulling the strings in the middle of the park as both sides battled to get a foothold of the ball, but possession was even.
The first corner of the second half for Tranmere after 57 minutes was swung in by Trialist and it was headed home fiercely into the top right-hand corner by substitute Knight-Percival with the player on the line unable to do anything about it.
Not long after the goal more substitutions were made with Sam Foley going off for Ryan Watson and for Burnley Jay Rodriguez went off for Matej Vydra whilst Johann Gudmundsson left the field for Jack Cork.
Burnley did not really show any immediate reaction to going behind which is credit to the defending by Tranmere, Murphy was needed though as he came charging out of his box to head the ball away.
With the Irishman off his line McNeil tried an ambitious effort but it went well wide.
If anything, Burnley looked rattled with the lead coming close to being doubled after a cross by Cogley looked so inviting but it was headed away by Ben Mee
Then some suspect passing round the back from Sean Dyche’s side made Hennessey have to make a tackle in his box and presented the ball to Dieseruvwe but nothing came from it.
Burnley did bounce back though, and it was through a looping header into the top corner from Ashley Barnes after a wonderfully timed cross from Lowton.
The game was now there for the taking at 1-1 with 20 minutes to go and Tranmere tried to take it with Ryan Watson having an attempt on the edge of the box, but it did not trouble Burnley.
Matt Lowton who assisted Burnley’s equaliser was nearly the man of the moment yet again as he broke into the box on the right after some fine build-up play but he fired just over the bar.
Elliot Nevitt was brought on at this point for Dieseruvwe who was a nuisance all game for Ben Mee and James Tarkowski.
Glatzel had a shot parried for a corner after he was found with a fizzing ball by Ryan Watson as Tranmere looked to get the lead back.
The resulting corner did not result in a chance, but another cross put in by Trialist caused some problems for the Premier League opposition.
Burnley went up the other end and Matej Vydra was put in behind the defence and opened up his body but hit the outside of the post.
With ten minutes to go Liverpool loanee Paul Glatzel was replaced by Charlie Jolley.
Jay Spearing came off with five minutes to go after a solid performance in the middle of the park, Kyle Hayde was his replacement with a winner looking unlikely from either team as the tempo had died down a little.
However, it did come in great fashion but it was unfortunately for the opposition.
Dwight McNeil, who was easily the best player on the field, found the winner in the 87th minute with an explosive strike with his left-foot from very far out.
A special strike was needed to undo this stern Tranmere defence and the 21-year-old found it which was a killer blow for Micky Mellon as his team but in a very respectable performance.
It was great preparation for the Super White Army as they were more than a match for Premier League opposition which bodes well for the season ahead.
Walsall await in a weeks’ time and many positives will be taken from this entertaining end to pre-season.