TRANMERE finished their pre-season schedule with a defeat at home to Rochdale, as they gear up for life back in the Football League.

Callum Camps and ex-Crewe forward Brad Inman gave The Dale a two goal first half lead before an Aaron Wilbraham penalty sealed a comfortable victory for the League One visitors. Harvey Gilmour provided a late consolation for the hosts.

Micky Mellon started with the type of team that will be expected to take to the field in the League Two season opener at Stevenage next weekend, but still looks short of a strike partner for James Norwood, following the departure of Andy Cook.

Rochdale started brightly. Wilbraham jinked one way and then the other but his shot was straight at Shamal George in the Tranmere goal.

At the other end Ben Tollitt cut inside from the right but could only shoot over the bar.

Callum Camps performed a smart overhead kick for the visitors but George held on comfortably.

Rochdale went closer when Ian Henderson flashed a header just wide from Joe Rafferty’s cross, with the blues looking the more dangerous team.

Zoumana Bakayogo could only lash a 20-yard effort wide for Rovers 20 minutes in, when he should probably have done better.

Rochdale should’ve taken the teal on 20 minutes when Brad Inman got in behind the Rovers defence and pulled the ball back for Ian Henderson, but he could only side foot wide with the goal at his mercy.

They didn’t have to wait too much longer to get their noses in front however. When the ball broke for Camps on the edge of the Tranmere Dee, he let fly with thumping drive that left George clutching thin air.

That lead became two a few minutes before the break when a careless ball across his own penalty area by Harris went straight to Henderson, who tee’d up Inman for an easy tap in.

Mellon freshened up his back four at the break, with the introduction of Manny Monthe and Mark Ellis for Steve McNulty and Jake Caprice respectively.

Inman tried his luck from the edge of the box on 58 minutes for Rochdale but his low shot was straight at George.

The tidy feet of Johnny Smith saw the Rovers winger dance around two defenders and cross for James Norwood, but his shot was blazed over the bar.

The Dale were awarded a penalty on 68 minutes when Ellis brought down Andy Cannon in the box – which Wilbraham dully converted to make it 3-0.

Norwood tested Josh Lillis from distance before Ellis headed an Ollie Banks set piece over the bar, as Rovers tried to claw one back.

Gilmour headed a cross from the industrious Zoumana Bakayogo over the bar from close range when he really should have scored.

He would make amends eight minutes from time however, side-footing a lovely effort into the top corner – Bakayogo once again providing the assist.

A cross from Caprice was met by the head of ‘Trialist A’ forcing a fingertip push over the bar from Kgosietsile Nthle.

As Tranmere finished strongly, wild shot into the Kop from Monthe brought the match to a close as all eyes now look ahead to season-opener.

Micky Mellon told Globe Sport: “In terms of performance, we never kept the ball well enough or got close enough to them when we needed to.

“We just lost our grit a little bit I think. The goals we gave away were poor.

“We need to keep the ball better and pass it with more quality than we did. We gave the ball away far too cheaply against a League One side. You see what happens.

“But towards the end we did start to pass it a little bit more and look a bit more aggressive when we tried the win the ball back and we got a goal and got back in it.

Regarding signing a new striker he said: “Hopefully we will get it done this week. We’re quite far down the line with one. I’d like to bring in two to put a bit of pressure on everyone at that end of the pitch.

“I’m pretty positive that we’ll have them done before the game on Saturday.

“We’re good to go now. We’ll make no excuses, we believe we are at the level of fitness you need to be at. We know who we’re up against so we’ll go and plan and prepare for it.”