Tranmere Rovers.....3


Two goals from Andy Cook and a James Norwood header ensured manager-less Tranmere did not end September without a victory as they overcame Woking at Prenton Park.

Cook gave Rovers the lead from six yards on 34 minutes before doubling that advantage four minutes after the break.

Fabio Saraiva pulled one back for the visitors but Norwood reaffirmed the two goal cushion a minute later.

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Andy Cook strikes from close range to give Rovers a  first half lead. Picture: Tony Coombes

Scott Davies saved a penalty for Rovers in the second half, while Norwood missed his second spot-kick of the season in injury time.

Interim manager Paul Carden shuffled his injury-ravaged pack and handed debuts to midweek acquisitions Louis Almond and Ben Tollitt.

Switching to a 4-4-2 formation, he also gave Ritchie Sutton a first start of the season at right-back, ahead of Lee Vaughan.

The visitors had the first chance when Chigozie Ugwu stretched away from Steve McNulty before pulling a right foot shot from the edge of the box wide.

A cross from Sutton in the 13th minute found the head of Cook but he could only steer it over the bar, as Rovers started to settle.

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Players celebrate James Norwood's superb headed goal. Picture: Tony Coombes

A punt up field from Davies landed at the feet of Norwood who let fly from 18 yards, forcing Michael Poke to tip the ball round the near post.

Rovers were showing some promise down the right wing and a cross from Sutton was knocked just wide of the post by Norwood.

The lively Tollitt put Norwood in on goal on the half hour mark and this time Poke was forced into a more testing save, pushing the ball away from goal.

Tranmere made the breakthrough in the 34th minute when a ball over the top ricocheted into the feet of Andy Cook and the striker slammed home with his left foot from close range.

Three minutes before the break Charlie Carter was allowed too much space on the edge of the box for Woking and Davies had to be at his best to repel a skipping low shot from the midfielder.

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James Norwood congraulates Andy Cook on his second goal of the afternoon. Picture: Tony Coombes

An early second half cross from Nathan Ralph forced a corner out of Liam Ridehalgh, which Connor Essam headed just wide, as the Cardinals attacked the Cowsheds where their 40-odd fans were seated.

Ralph then got in between Sutton and McNulty moments later and pulled a shot just wide of Davies’ goal.

That would prove costly as on 49 minutes Rovers went two up. Lois Maynard fed Cook in the box, who cut inside his man before side footing the ball home.

Rovers had a let off on 64 minutes when a succession of failed clearances allowed Ugwu to smash the ball into the net for Woking, but to the relief of the home crowd he was flagged offside.

Woking sensed that Tranmere weren’t settled however and when Ralph knocked one down for Saraiva on the edge of the box, he smashed the ball into the net and gave the visitors a lifeline.

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New recruit Louis Almond made an imprresive start to life at Prenton Park. Picture: Tony Coombes

It lasted all of minute however, as a cross from Sutton found the head of Norwood and this time the former Forrest Green hit man found the back of the net, returning Rover’s two goal advantage.

But barely three minutes later Woking had a penalty when McNulty was correctly adjudged to have handled in the box.

Murtagh took the spot kick but Davies brilliantly palmed it away to his left.

In pursuit of his hat-trick Cook nodded wide twice late on before substitute Mitch Duggan was brought down clean through on goal, leaving referee Tom Neild with no option but to award a penalty and dismiss Woking’s Joey Jones.

Norwood took the spot-kick but it was well saved by Poke, leaving the striker with two consecutive misses from 12 yards.

The penalty failure was immaterial however, with Tranmere recording a first win in five matches, as the search for a new manager continues.

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Loanee Ben Tollitt made plenty of headway in the openings stages. Picture: Tony Ccombes

Interim manager Paul Carden would not rule himself out of the reckoning.

He said: “The way the lads have approached training this week has been good.

"They will all tell you that they liked Gary (Brabin) but they have to be professional as we all do.

“They have applied themselves well towards today’s game – as they have done to every game to be fair to them – but it’s nice to be talking about a win again.

“One of the things that we spoke about was putting balls into the box with quality. We know with the two lads up front, we’ll score goals, so that was the instruction from early on.

“To a man they’ve all put a shift in today.

"I’m just please with the result and the performance. But for a 15-20 minute spell in the second half they’ve thoroughly deserved it.

“I said to the players before the game, you’re playing Woking at home. Step up to it, but go and try to entertain.

“The chairman has said to me: 'Run with it, it’s yours to succeed.'

"I know there’s going to be names a lot more attractive in management than Paul Carden but winning football matches is all you can do and my hat’s in the ring to have a crack at it.”

Match Stats:

Tranmere Rovers 3 - Cook 34, 49, Norwood, 69

Woking 1 - Saraiva, 68

Half time: 1-0

Star man: Andy Cook (Tranmere, striker)

Attendance: 4,214

Entertainment: 4/5

Ref rating: Tom Nield (7/10)

Tranmere (4-4-2): Davies player rating 7, Sutton 7, McNulty 7, Ihiekwe 6, Ridehalgh 7; Tollitt 7 (Duggan 79, 6) Maynard 7, S Jennings 6, Almond 6 (Stephenson 59, 6); Norwood 7, Cook 8 (Jones 90, NA),

Subs not used: Turner, Vaughan, Jones,

Woking (3-5-2): Poke player rating 7, Jones 6, Saah 6, Essam 6, Lewis 5, Murtagh 6 (Edgar 78, 6), Carter 5, Saraiva 7, Ugwu 6 (Kandi 76, 5), Ralph (7), Sam-York 6 (Ansah 78, 5)

Subs not used: Yakubu, Hall