Tranmere Rovers 9 Solihull Moors 0

COLE Stockton and Connor Jennings scored hat-tricks either side of half-time as awesome Tranmere destroyed Solihull Moors at Prenton Park.

Andy Cook, Liam Ridehalgh and debutant Aaron Collins also found the net as Rovers ran riot against their shell-shocked midlands opponents.

The result keeps Tranmere level on points with leaders Lincoln, but crucially the Imps' superior goal difference has now been slashed from 11 to just three.

Micky Mellon kept faith with the side that dramatically edged past Sutton United midweek, keeping top scorer Cook on the bench.

Fans had to wait 10 minutes before there was any action of note, when Stockton collected the ball on the edge of the box, turned his man and chipped the goalkeeper, only to see his beautiful effort crash off the underside of the bar.

There was a drama at the other end when miscommunication between Scott Davies and Steve McNulty resulted in the latter nodding a bouncing ball past his own 'keeper but thankfully the wrong side of the post.

Tranmere took the lead in the 20th minute when a perfect left foot cross from James Norwood was met with a bullet header from Stockton that gave Danny Lewis no chance.

Five minutes later he had his second of the afternoon, when he collected the ball on the edge of the box and drilled it into the corner of the net past Lewis.

Rovers were then awarded a penalty when Jennings was pushed over in the box.

With the club having missed seven penalties already this season, the responsibility fell to Stockton with the chance to complete a first half hat-trick.

But, just like his predecessors, he was unable to convert the spot kick with the overworked Lewis saving well to his left.

Stockton would make amends before half time however, when Ridehalgh slipped the ball across the face of the goal and the striker gleefully arrived at the back post, sliding in his third of the afternoon.

After the break, Tranmere set about the task of reducing Lincoln's goal difference advantage.

Jennings found the net in the 48th minute with a sweet low drive into the bottom left corner and two minutes later he had another when he nodded Lee Vaughan's right side cross in from close range.

The hosts smelt blood and brought on Cook for the brilliant Stockton, who was afforded a standing ovation.

The club's top scorer didn't have to wait long for his goal, when Vaughan again crossed from the right in the 69th minute the prolific marksmen headed home with a trademark finish.

Collins was handed his debut – coming on for the excellent Norwood – and soon forced another save out of Lewis with a left foot strike.

The virtually redundant Davies had to tip a free kick from Sammons around the post before Collins hit the woodwork himself at the other end.

Collins' fellow debutant substitute, Erico Sousa, won a free kick on the edge of the box, which Ridehalgh beautifully converted into the top corner with a sweet left foot strike.

There was still time for Jennings to complete his hat-trick with the pick of the goals – a half volley struck with the outside of his boot that bent into the corner – before Collins celebrated his debut with a clinical injury time strike.

This was scintillating stuff from Tranmere, who look well set to push Lincoln to the bitter end.

Rovers' boss Mick Mellon said: "The atmosphere was fantastic – it was electric. We needed the goals, everybody knows that.

"I don't know when the last time was that two Tranmere players got a hat-trick in the same game.

"Were delighted but were not getting too carried away, that's for sure.

"We're pleased with a lot of things but we'll quickly get back to business".

Rovers National League campaign continues on Tuesday night, against Forest Green at Prenton Park, kick-off 7.45pm.

Mellon continued: "I'm not being a killjoy but we have to because we're in the middle of a fantastic race.

"We'll dust ourselves and get the boys ready for Tuesday night now.

"Were disappointed to miss another penalty. You can't miss that amount.

"I'm not even going to make fun of it because were professionals.

"We've got to be taking them. We have to find a solution to that.

"Certainly with the result we are delighted.

"The goal difference now looks a lot healthier.

"Now it looks like a good decision to send Connor Jennings out on loan.

"The reasons why we did it are now baring fruit.

"There was never a doubt about the boy’s ability. He's been great.

"I've got such a strong squad – you've a seen a wee glimpse of the new lads that came on today.

"I've also got other lads that are fit who never took part.

"I just have to keep them all onside, but they all understand that the most important thing is Tranmere.

"Nothing will get in the way of Tranmere doing their best to win games".

Tranmere Rovers 9 (Stockton 20, 25, 45 C Jennings 48, 50, 90 Cook 69 Ridehalgh 84 Collins 90)

Solihull Moors 0

Half-time: 3-0 Star man: Cole Stockton (Tranmere striker).

Attendance: 5,001

Entertainment: 5/5 Ref rating: Tom Neild (7/10) Tranmere (4-2-3-1): Davies 6; Buxton 7, McNulty 6, Ihiekwe 6; Vaughan 9, Hughes 6, Harris 8 (Sousa 7, 83), Ridehalgh 9; C Jennings 9; Stockton 9 (Cook 52, 8), Norwood 8 (68 Collins 8).

Subs not used: Turner, Mekki