Tranmere Rovers.......2

TRANMERE delayed Lincoln's expected coronation for another week at least as they came from behind to beat Guiseley at Nethermoor Park on Easter Monday.

Derek Asamoah gave the Lions a first half lead with a 25-yard screamer, but second half goals from James Norwood and Andy Cook turned the game on its head.

But with Lincoln netting twice in injury time to win at Gateshead, the Imps need just two points from their remaining three games to become National League champions, leaving Rovers to prepare for the drama of the playoffs.

Micky Mellon made two changes to the side that drew on Good Friday with Aldershot, as he looked to shuffle his resources.

James Wallace came in for the rested Lois Maynard in midfield and top scorer Andy Cook returned up front in place of Cole Stockton, who had started the last six matches.

A cross from Connor Jennings was headed golwards by Lee Vaughan in the fifth minute, but it was an easy catch for Jonathan Maxted.

A shot from Kevan Hurst bounced wide of Scott Davies’ goal soon after, as the hosts responded.

Guiseley attempted to rough up playmaker Jennings earl on, but in the 10th minute it was his shot that forced a smart save out of Maxted.

A good cross from Hurst was headed over by giant centre forward Michael Rankine before Davies comfortably held a long distance half-volley from Will Hatfield.

James Norwood attempted an ambitious long-range volley himself in the 20th minute but skewed it high and wide.

The Lions’ physical approach appeared to be preventing Rovers from getting players forward, with offensive opportunities severely restricted.

By the half hour mark, Tranmere settled, with Wallace beginning to influence play from the middle of the park.

Cook came close when he saw a header from a corner cleared off the line but Jeff Hughes had to frantically clear Rovers’ lines when Guiseley immediately broke down the other end.

And a minute later, they took the lead when Derek Asamoah unleashed an unstoppable 25 yarder that beat Davies all ends up.

Tranmere responded, going close from successive corners, but the Birkenhead side were struggling to impose their passing game on their burley hosts.

A glanced header from Norwood following Liam Ridehalgh’s cross was held by Maxted before the break, but Mellon’s men left the field at the interval knowing they would need to up their game to turn this around in the second half.

Rovers returned much quicker than their opponents after the break and a last ditch block prevented Jennings from scoring, following a stampeding run from Adam Buxton.

Ridehalgh then nodded a Jennings cross off target as Tranmere massively upped the tempo.

And in the 51st minute, that increase in application paid off when Norwood headed home a Hughes corner from close range for his 12th goal of the season.

With the Super White Army ignited Tranmere pressed for a second. A header from Cook was saved on the line from yet another corner.

But he was not to be denied and just before the hour mark a cross from Ridehalgh was chested down by Cook in the penalty area before he bravely prodded it past the Guiseley goalkeeper.

Mellon’s men continued to work hard for more goals. A shot from Ridehalgh bobbled wide before the tireless Norwood blast one over from an acute angle.

With 25 minutes to play – returning from injury – Liverpool loanee Jack Dunn came on, replacing Jennings.

But Rovers were forced to defend a spell of pressure from the home side, with a twice-taken free kick from Rankine eventually deflected wide for a corner.

Stockton replaced Cook with 18 minutes left as Mellon deployed a fresh attacking option.

A shot from Stockton was saved by Maxted before the Guiesely ‘keeper tipped Vaughan’s rebound over the bar.

With five minutes remaining Dunn was denied a third goal for Rovers by some brilliant last ditch defending.

But Tranmere held on to secure a morale-boosting victory and will now look to consolidate second place before tackling the play-offs.

Mellon told Globe Sport: “It was a tough and scrappy game. I felt it was going to go like that. There was a lot a stake for both teams.

“I always felt that we would have the quality to get the opportunity to score goals and we did.

“It’s always difficult coming here, they're fighting for their lives.

"There was a lot of free kicks again for us to defend, which is difficult because they have a real physical presence.

“But the boys battled away great, considering we’ve had 20 games in 70-odd days, someone told me. It’s been a tough old shift for them. They deserve a couple of days break, then we’ll go again.

“James Norwood has got a bit of a sore heel that we couldn’t get sorted before the game. He’s been nursing that for a few weeks but he’s put a terrific shift in today. He’s run his socks off for the group and done everything we needed to, to get a result.

“Fair play to Lincoln. There’s not anything more that we can do than we have been. We had two difficult games where we weren’t able to collect maximum points and Lincoln did.

“I’m a football man and I’ll be the first to say fair play to them.”