Tranmere Rovers 2 Aldershot Town 0 

A BRACE from James Norwood kept Tranmere's National League title hopes alive for another day a least with a laboured victory over promotion rivals Aldershot Town.

Norwood grabbed his 18th and 19th league goals of the season in the second half of a sub-standard match and with Macclesfield only drawing at home to Leyton Orient the Birkenhead club still have an outside chance of automatic promotion.

Micky Mellon made one change to the side that came from behind to defeat Gateshead at Prenton Park last Tuesday evening, with fit-again Jeff Hughes replacing Jay Harris in the middle of the park.

Prior to kick off, a minutes' silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters to mark the 29th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Tranmere had the first chance of the contest when Norwood took the ball on his chest and skewed a 25-yard volley wide.

A cross from Ben Tollitt was met by the head of Norwood in the 13th minute but he couldn't get enough purchase on the ball resulting in a routine save for Lewis Ward.

A defensive mistake almost let the Shots take the lead but Will Evans’ shot was cleared off the line by Hughes.

A high ball into the Aldershot box just before the half hour mark was completely missed by Ward and that error caught Andy Cook by surprise as the ball hit his head and bounced out for a goal kick.

Norwood then fed Cook through the right channel but his fierce shot was just about held by Ward.

The Shots responded when Adam McDonnell tried his luck from long range but it was straight into the clutches of Scott Davies.

A cross-field ball from Connor Jennings was instantly controlled by Norwood who cut inside but his shot was held by Ward.

Bobby Joe-Taylor then blazed over at the other end before Norwood went even closer, running onto the through ball and forcing a full stretch save out of the visiting ‘keeper.

A minute before the break, winger Tollitt was unable to continue and was replaced by Larnell Cole.

Rovers re-emerged after the break with a little more zip about them.

A shot from substitute Cole was deflected wide but the resultant corner came to nothing.

Ollie Norburn then pulled a 25-yard effort well wide as the game continued to lack any real quality at either end of the pitch.

Jennings picked up a yellow card with little over 20 minutes to go with a hard and late challenge on Josh McQuoid.

A less lenient referee may have branded a different colour.

But on 70 minutes Tranmere finally made the breakthrough in this uninspiring match with a rare moment of substance.

Substitute Cole ran at the Shots' defence and waited before threading a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Norwood who kept his head and slotted home past Ward.

The relief around Prenton Park was tangible.

The crowd had been somewhat sedated by the lack of a spectacle and that prompted Mellon into literally galvanising them into voice, waving his hands furiously.

With nine minutes remaining Rovers put the game to bed with a second goal.

The Aldershot defence allowed the ball to bounce not once but twice in their own penalty area with Cook lurking.

The 25-goal striker nicked the ball off a defender and went around the 'keeper before Norwood arrived at a better angle to take the ball of his partner and slam home.

At the death, Cole almost capped off a man of the match performance when he selflessly squared the ball to Harris, who's shot was saved before Cole's rebound was cleared off the line.

It mattered little though as Rovers collected all three points, securing four consecutive victories for the first time this season.

Rovers' boss Micky Mellon said: "We're just enjoying the football.

"It's a good place to be Tranmere when it gets to the nitty gritty because the fans are used to it and they’re brilliant when they're needed.

"The whole atmosphere is great to be involved with and the players thrive under it.

"(Norwood and Cook) are a real handful. They work hard at being a pair. It's great when they get their just rewards."

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers (2 Norwood 70, 81)

Aldershot Town 0

Half-time: 0-0

Star man: Larnell Cole (Tranmere right midfielder)

Attendance: 5,444

Entertainment: 2/5

Ref rating: Alan Young (5/10)

Tranmere (4-4-2): Davies 7; Buxton 7, McNulty 7, Sutton 7, Ridehalgh 6; Tollitt 4 (Cole 44, 9), Norburn 6, Hughes 6, Jennings 7; Cook 7 (Harris 84, 6), Norwood 8 (Mangan 90, NA)

Subs not used: Taylor, Traore

Aldershot (3-4-3): Ward 6; Alexander 5, Evans 5, Reynolds 5, Kinsella 5; Oyeleke 6, McDonnell 6; McQuoid 5, Kellermann 6 (McClure 75, 5), Joe-Taylor 5 (Fenelon 62, 5); Kabamba 5

Subs not used: Cole, Gallagher, Fowler Bookings: Tranmere – Jennings Aldershot – None

Rovers' National League continues tomorrow, with an away match against Dover Athletic, that was postponed on Good Friday.

After that, Mellon's side are away to FC Halifax Town on Saturday (3pm) and face Solihull Moors - in a home game that was called off on Easter Monday - next Tuesday at Prenton Park (kick off, 7.45pm)