Tranmere Rovers 1,  Port Vale 0 

TRANMERE are up to tenth in League Two after securing a hard-fought victory over Port Vale at Prenton Park.

James Norwood notched his fifth goal in as many games for Rovers late on to clinch the win that maintains their unbeaten home record this season.

Micky Mellon named an unchanged side from the one that secured a good point at home to Mansfield Town on Tuesday night.

New loan signing Franklyn Akammadu did not receive international clearance in time so had to sit this one out.

Rovers had the first chance of the afternoon a couple of minutes in, when Johnny Smith turned his marker inside out before delivering an inviting cross to the back post that was just beyond the outstretched boot of Connor Jennings.

The hosts were enjoying all of the early possession and when Ollie Banks tried a fierce curling 25-yarder in the 12th minute, Scott Brown could only palm it away.

Tom Pope fashioned the visitors' first real chance on 20 minutes but he snapped at the chance on the edge of the box and ballooned it high and wide.

Despite Rovers enjoying plenty of the ball, chances were at a premium for the remainder of half.

The hosts attacking intent was almost always provided by Banks and Smith, who both looked to get on the ball at every opportunity.

In first half injury time it was the latter who laid the ball off to Jennings on the edge of the box with the former Wrexham captain drilling a shot just wide of the post.

A deflected drive from Manny Monthe spun into the hands of Vale ‘keeper Brown, as Tranmere started the second half in positive fashion.

After Lee McCulloch was brought down on the edge of the box James Norwood saw his free kick deflected off Connell Rawlinson and just wide of the post.

When Tranmere counter-attacked via Banks, Cole Stockton could not bring down a cross from Norwood but only a poor first touch denied Smith from breaking the deadlock as the ball fell into his path.

Vale responded and came close to taking the lead themselves just before the hour mark when Leon Legge steamed into the box and headed just over.

Mellon had seen enough and decided to make a double substitution – introducing Paul Mullin and Dylan Mottley-Henry for Stockton and the fading Smith.

A drilled ball across the box from Pope looked dangerous for Rovers but Vale’s Luke Hannant couldn’t get on the end of it.

A clever touch from Mullin should have released Norwood in the penalty area but the two strikers were not on the same wavelength and the opportunity was wasted.

Norwood went close moments later, heading Banks’ cross wide via a deflection, before Monthe nodded the resultant corner over the bar from six yards out.

A shot from Mottley-Henry on the break was almost put into his own net by Legge but he was fortunate to see the ball land in the gloves of Brown.

But with 13 minutes to go, Tranmere’s greater endeavour paid off when Norwood made the breakthrough.

A speculative shot from Banks was met by Rovers’ top scorer on the slide and although his initial attempt was kept out, he recovered to stab home on the line and raise the roof off Prenton Park.

Norwood redirected another drilled Banks effort over the bar from close range late on, as Rovers tried to double their advantage.

Tranmere had two chances to seal victory late on when substitute Mullin ran half the pitch on the break, only to see his shot saved by Brown.

Norwood then stuck a one-on-one with Brown wide but it proved immaterial as Tranmere hung on for a deserved victory.

Rovers' boss Micky Mellon said: "I thought it was well-earned. All credit to Port Vale, at times in their 18 yard box they defended for their lives with some great blocks and headers.

"But we knew that if we just kept going we had that wee bit of quality and if we could get a break then we could get a winner.

"Then we had a couple (of chances) at the end but every credit to the back four boys, everything was launched right on them.

"They're a big side at the top end of the pitch.

"We kept battling away. McNulty and Ellis were magnificent.

"It showed that every game asks you a different question and when it does, we’ve got boys who can stand up and be counted.

"I think we've had three games now in seven days.

"That's going to take its toll and that's when you've got to be able to call on the boys in the group to come on and carry things forward and the subs can certainly be pleased with the impact that they made."

Match stats:

Tranmere team: Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Ellis, Monthe, Smith (Mottley-Henry 61), McCulloch, Banks, Jennings, Norwood, Stockton (Mullins 61)

Subs not used: George, Tollitt, Cole, Spellman, Long

Referee: Dean Whitestone 6/10

Man of the match: Ollie Banks (Tranmere midfielder)

Attendance: 6,488