Tranmere Rovers were beaten on the road at Walsall on Saturday afternoon as a late penalty from Conor Wilkinson saw Micky Mellon’s side leave the West Midlands empty handed.
It was an even start to proceedings at the Bescot Stadium, with both sides attempting to assert themselves in the game’s early exchanges.
The game’s first real opening fell to Rovers, with striker Kane Hemmings volleying over the bar on the turn.
Rovers went close again just after the half hour mark when Josh Hawkes tried his luck from distance, the winger’s strike failing to trouble Carl Rushworth in the Walsall goal.
At the other end the hosts best opportunity of the half fell to Conor Wilkinson just before the break, with the former Bolton striker’s effort going wide of the Rovers goal.
They were the only moments of great significance in the opening half with both sides yet to show their true credentials.
Attacking towards the travelling supporters Rovers made a vigorous start to the second half, applying pressure to Walsall with a barrage of corners in quick succession, encouraging signs in the early moments of the second half from Micky Mellon’s side.
At the other end Ross Doohan was called into action just before the hour mark, the Scotsman making a fine save to deny a header from the lively Conor Wilkinson.
Rovers continued to test the Walsall defence and defender Hayden White made an excellent block to prevent an Elliott Nevitt strike from heading towards goal.
As Micky Mellon’s side pushed for a winner late on in the West Midlands they found themselves caught out on the counter attack and the threatening Conor Wilkinson forced Peter Clarke into a mistake, who brought down the striker in the box, having sliced an attempted clearance.
Wilkinson, who was a thorn in the side of Rovers all afternoon, made no mistake from penalty spot, slotting his spot kick past Ross Doohan to give the hosts the lead against the run of play.
A fatal blow for Rovers late on, as the hosts then saw out the final moments of the game to earn the three points.
A bitterly disappointing afternoon for Rovers with the late penalty from Wilkinson consigning Micky Mellon’s side to just a second defeat in their last 15 outings in the league.
Tranmere team: Doohan, Dacres-Cogley, Davies, Clarke, MacDonald, O’Connor, Morris, Warrington (Foley 76’), Hawkes (McPake 62’), Jolley (Nevitt 61’), Hemmings