Richard has dedicated this article to Tranmere supporter and family friend Rob Turner, who sadly passed away last week.

Tranmere Rovers 2 Torquay United 1

TRANMERE moved to within three points of table-toppers Forest Green as a brace from Andy Mangan just about saw off Torquay and extended Micky Mellon's unbeaten National League run to eight matches.

Mangan scored either side of half-time before a defensive error allowed Dan Sparkes to pull one back for the Gulls.

Andy Cook missed a late penalty but Rovers held on and moved up to fourth in the table, nestled in a cluster of clubs in hot pursuit of the league leaders.

Mellon made a couple of changes to the team that fought back to earn a point against Forest Green on Tuesday night.

Following suspensions, Lee Vaughan returned to right back at the expense of Michael Ihiekwe and Jay Harris was back in midfield for Jake Kirby.

Both midweek deputies made the bench along with James Norwood, who had come on to pull Rovers level for a second time at the New Lawn.

Wirral Globe:

Andy Mangan celebrates scoring against Torquay at Prenton Park

Steve McNulty got himself in a tangle inside three minutes before Harris conceded a free kick on the edge of the Rovers box, but Scott Davies comfortably held Dan Sparkes' subsequent direct effort.

Better from Tranmere followed three minutes later when Ben Tollitt shifted through the gears before seeing a right-foot effort tipped just wide by Brendan Moore.

Mangan was quickest to a loose ball in the 10th minute, skipping past the United goalkeeper, but he elected to shoot from a tight angle and hit the front post, when squaring to Cook looked a more favourable option.

The former Shrewsbury hot shot made amends moments later however when a slick Tranmere attack saw Tollitt play in Mangan who curled the ball into the far corner of the net – the first goal of his second spell for the club.

Mangan could have doubled his tally for the day 10 minutes later, but his blistering shot from the edge of the Dee flew over the crossbar following Cook’s knockdown.

Wirral Globe:

Andy Mangan in action

Torquay had barely laid a glove on Rovers in the opening half hour, affording their opponents too much space and presenting them with the opportunity to play attractive football.

When United did fashion a chance on 27 minutes, Kieffer Moore harmlessly sent a long-range effort into the Kop.

Mangan was full of running and enthusiasm and having chased a high ball over the top of the defence he fired a first time half volley wide from 25 yards.

He would spurn another chance a minute before the break, slicing a shot horribly wide when clean through on goal, before Tollitt cut inside and stung the palms of Moore in time added on.

Rovers quickly doubled their lead after the break when Cook fed Mangan again and this time his shot went straight through Moore – a moment to forget for the Torquay stopper.

The visitors almost pulled one back immediately when an inviting ball dropped for Aman Verma but the right back skied his volley into the cowsheds.

Tranmere though were by far the superior side and Ritchie Sutton smashed one off the bar as the Whites looked to improve their goal difference.

Tollitt appeared to have another direct run halted illegally in the penalty area but the referee waved spot-kick claims away.

The only thing that could beat Rovers here was complacency and a bout of it arrived with 25 minutes left when Vaughan misplaced a header straight into the path of Sparkes, who slotted the ball under Davies.

Nerves started to jangle with Moore firing a low cross just over, as United’s confidence returned.

Norwood – who had come on for goal scorer Mangan – saw one good opportunity blocked before fellow substitute Kirby appeared to be clipped in the box, but again, no penalty.

Flying winger Tollitt then cut inside and fired another effort just over as Rovers tried to put the game to bed.

With three minutes to go Tranmere were finally awarded a penalty as Vaughan was fouled in the area.

Untimely, Cook and Norwood argued over who would take the chance. Eventually it would be Cook, but his effort from 12 yards went horribly wide much to the disgust of his aggrieved strike partner.

It was nervy finale for the frozen Prenton Park faithful but Mellon’s side did just enough to see out victory, keeping the promotion push on course.

During a press conference after the match, he said: "We were sloppy with our finishing, there's no doubt about that, but what you've got to realise is the movement and the passing getting up to the chances, not just the chances missed.

"When you miss chances and a penalty everyone gets a wee bit nervy because we know how big the points are but again they did what they were asked to do.

"There are better ways to play the game and entertain on a cold day but I've lost count of the number of goal scoring opportunities that we had.

"It would just be better for the crowd’s nerves if we put a few more of those chances away."

And he promised: "We’ll bring another very good player into the group on Monday.

"I"ll keep you all on the edge of your seats with that one."

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers 2 (Mangan 12, 47)

Torquay United 1 (Sparkes 65)

Half-time: 1-0

Star man: Andy Mangan (Tranmere striker)

Attendance: 4,449   

Entertainment: 3/5

Ref rating: Alan Young (7/10)

Tranmere (4-4-2): Davies 7; Vaughan 6, Sutton 7, McNulty 7, Ridehalgh 7 (Ihiekwe 53, 6), Hughes 6, Harris 6 (Kirby 78, 5), Maynard 7, Tollitt 7, Mangan 9 (Norwood 64, 5), Cook 6 Subs not used: Turner, Dawson

Torquay United (4-4-2): Moore 5, Verma 5, Giallifuoco 6, McGinty 6, Rowe-Turner 6, Fitzpatrick 6 (Blissett 77, 5), Ward 5, Young 4 (Gerring 16, 6), Sparkes 7, Moore 7, Reid 5 (Chaney 85, N/A)


Shots on - 5

Shots off - 8

Corners - 4

Fouls - 8

Offsides - 3

Yellows - 0

Reds - 0


Shots on - 2

Shots off - 6

Corners - 0

Fouls - 10

Offsides - 1

Yellows - 1

Reds - 0

Rovers' National League campaign continues on Tuesday night, with an away game against Gateshead.