Tranmere Rovers......3

Torquay United.........0

Tranmere continue to close in on the National League play-off positions after securing a hard-fought victory over resilient Torquay United.

A header from Connor Jennings gave Rovers a first half lead, before Andy Cook added two late on, completing a satisfactory home win that lifts the Birkenhead side up to ninth in the table.

After a two-week break from match action, Micky Mellon made just one change to the side that swept away Maidstone United last time out.

Having served a one-match suspension, Steve McNulty returned to the centre of defence, with youngster Evan Gumbs dropping back to the bench.

United had the first chance of the match early doors when Liam Davies was given too much room and fired a low effort straight at Scott Davies.

Rovers responded with Ollie Banks forcing a full stretch save out of Vincent Durel from 20 yards out.

Tranmere should have led in the eight minute when James Norwood was denied by the legs of Durel before `Jennings saw his rebound blocked.

Torquay then narrowly avoided conceding an own goal with Sean McGinty hooking the ball off the line before Norwood curled a more difficult effort just wide of the post.

Michee Efete’s afternoon was ended inside the first quarter of an hour – the United defender having to be stretched off after an innocuous challenge with Davies.

When Durel failed to properly clear Clarke’s cross in the 25th minute, the Seagull’s stopper was relieved to see Bank’s long-range effort deflected wide for a corner.

On-loan Banks had another go a few minutes’ later with a controlled volley on the edge of the box, but it floated over the bar.

Rovers were completely bossing the contest and it was no surprise when they took the lead nine minutes before the break.

A cross from Dylan Mottley-Henry was met by the head of Jennings who gracefully glanced the ball home off the inside of the post.

The Seagulls had barely had a kick but in first half stoppage time Ruairi Keating had a chance to draw the match level – blazing over from eight yards when the goal was gaping – before Davies just about dealt with Luke Young’s long-range pile driver.

As the Super White Army kept themselves warm on the Bebington Kop with festive ditties, Steve McNulty almost extended Rovers’ lead after the break with a looping header, only to see it nodded off the goal line by Young.

Despite the home sides’ dominance, Torquay were not lying down for their opponents. Josh McQuoid went close with a header before another effort sailed just wide of Davies’ goal.

Tranmere had another chance to double their lead when Ollie Norburn dinked one over the onrushing Durel, but ‘Gulls’ captain McGinty was there again to scoop it off the line.

A ball over the top gave Norwood an opportunity but with Durel quick off the mark again, his attempted lob dropped wide.

United substitute Jon-Paul Pittman tested the palms of Davies from distance as the Southerners continued to toil for an equaliser.

But with 10 minutes remaining Prenton Park finally relaxed as Rovers got a crucial second when a low cross from Norwood was turned home by Cook with the faintest of touches.

And that lead soon became three when Clarke raced down the left wing before sending in a beautiful cross for Cook to head home a classic goal.

Rovers now take a break from league action as they face Solihull Moors in the FA Trophy next, but given their current form, they will be keen to get back to league action as soon as possible.