Tranmere Rovers secured a vital three points with a 1-0 victory over league leaders Leyton Orient at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon.
The decisive moment came with eight minutes to play, after Omar Beckles’ own goal proved the difference between the two teams.
Manager Micky Mellon handed a debut to new signing Harvey Saunders, while Brad Walker and Logan Chalmers were on the substitutes bench.
Rovers enjoyed a positive start to the fixture. Josh Dacres-Cogley’s right-sided cross caused pressure to Orient which was eventually defended well by skipper Darren Pratley, who played the ball back to goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Inside the opening nine minutes, Saunders was involved to create Rovers’ first real chance, as he met Kane Hemmings’ flick on the left to set up Kieron Morris who could not get a clean connection on his volley that went over Vigouroux’s upright.
Richie Wellens’ men from the capital had their first sight of goal on 14 minutes, but Theo Archibald’s 25-yard left-footed shot curled just wide of Mateusz Hewelt’s bottom far post.
Rovers later had a couple of chances midway through the half. Firstly, Morris’ low drive was blocked by Beckles before Hemmings glanced Hawkes’ corner over.
On the half-hour, Kieran Sadlier’s lofted cross fell to Archibald who steered his header off target.
Lee O’Connor tried his luck with 12 minutes remaining following a neat spell of possession from Hawkes and Chris Merrie, however Rovers’ number four saw a fierce attempt from distance go over the crossbar.
Orient threatened when Archibald brough the ball down and fed George Moncur, though his long-range attempt failed to test Hewelt.
Rovers ended the half on top. Morris’ run towards goal ended with the winger drilling straight into the gloves of Vigouroux after Hawkes pass set him free.
Morris then got the better of his marker and delivered an enticing cross which was not met by a white shirt in the penalty area.
The second-half started with Rovers taking the game to the O’s in front of the Kop.
Ethan Bristow linked up well with Hawkes, who took on Tom James to whip a low cross into the box which was cleared but only to Dacres-Cogley, who hit a half-volley which was deflected out for a corner.
Tom Davies was called to the rescue with 57 minutes played, throwing himself in the way of Beckles’ close-range chance after a goal-mouth scramble.
With 65 minutes on the clock, Rovers were on the attack again. Morris overcame challenges from Jordan Lyden and Rob Hunt to cross for Hemmings which the TRFC captain hit right-footed first time across goal just past the bottom left-post.
Mellon made his first substitution as Jake Burton was introduced into the action on 67 minutes, replacing Saunders.
Davies’ excellent cross-field ball found Daces-Cogley, though his pinpoint delivery was cleared by James.
Walker and Chalmers were Mellon’s double substitutes, with the pair coming on for Merrie and Hawkes in the 74th minute.
Harry Smith’s strike went close for Orient before Davies had to head to safety after Sadlier flicked on James’ long throw.
Rovers were in front on 82 minutes when Beckles turned into his own net beyond Vigouroux from Dacres-Cogley’s cross after excellent build-up play from Morris and Chalmers down the right.
Mellon’s men had to deal with significant pressure from Orient late on. Ruel Sotiriou’s strike was charged down by Hemmings prior to Smith’s unmarked header hitting the crossbar.
Hemmings was unlucky not to wrap up the contest in added time when he thumped the crossbar inside the box, with Rovers navigating the closing minutes professionally to earn the three points.
Next up for TRFC is a visit to Edgeley Park to play Stockport County in Sky Bet League Two next Saturday.
TRFC: Hewelt, Dacres-Cogley, Turnbull, Davies, Bristow, Morris, Merrie (Walker 74), O'Connor, Hawkes (Chalmers 74), Saunders (Burton 67), Hemmings ©
Subs not used: Murphy, Jameson, Lewis, Mumbongo