Tranmere Rovers 1, Colchester United 1

JAMES Norwood scored his seventh goal in seven matches but it was only enough for a point, as Tranmere were held to a draw by Colchester at Prenton Park.

The League Two August Player of the Month drilled home three minutes before the break to give Rovers a half-time lead, but a mistake by goalkeeper Scott Davies allowed United to draw level in the second half through Harry Pell.

The result sees Tranmere drop down to 14th in League Two.

As expected, Micky Mellon made a ruck of changes from the side deployed in the Chekatrade Trophy midweek, but the scot did spring a couple of surprises.

Zoumana Bakayogo retained his place at left back but not at the expense of Manny Monthe, who retained a centre-back birth ahead of Mark Ellis.

Adam Buxton seemed a serious consideration to return at right back, but he didn't even make the bench, nor did winger Ben Tollitt, demonstrating the strength of Tranmere's squad currently.

Norwood almost got on the end of a whipped ball from Connor Jennings in the third minute, but it was just beyond his reach.

Johnny Smith saw a low curling effort tipped around the post for a corner as the hosts provided all the early initiative.

Norwood thought he had scored 10 minutes in, when he headed home a measured cross from Bakayogo, but he was flagged marginally offside.

United responded when Sammie Szmodics attempted an ambitious half-volley from 30 yards but it sailed harmlessly into the cow sheds.

Tranmere continued to ask all of the questions however with Smith stinging the palms of Dillon Barnes next, with a swerving drive from the edge of the box.

They were nearly picked off however, when a sloppy back pass from Steve McNulty put Luke Norris in on goal.

Davies rushed out to deny him before Szmodics put the rebound wide when he really should have found the back of the net.

As the pace in Rovers' play diminished, so did their goal scoring opportunities.

Frank Nouble barged his way forward for Colchester, creating a chance for himself, but he could only fire well over.

Smith then squared one for Ollie Banks at the other end of the pitch, but he pulled his edge-of-the-box shot wide.

Chances had been at a premium for Cole Stockton, but seven minutes before the break he collected the ball in the box with his back to goal and shot on the turn, just firing over the bar.

Just before the break, Tranmere’s greater endeavour paid off when Smith found Norwood on the edge of the box and the in-form striker produced a clinical finished that arrowed into the bottom far corner of the net.

He almost grabbed a second moments later, when he beat goalkeeper Barnes to the ball outside the penalty area, but his attempted lob was cleared to safety.

United made a quick start to the second half, with Nouble firing a chance just wide from the edge of the box.

The visitors wanted a penalty when McNulty appeared to drag down Norris in the 18-yard box, but to the aghast of the Colchester striker the referee waved it away.

A break from Rovers ended when Jennings stuck a 25-yard effort high into the stands.

Colchester should have drawn level when a high ball into the box wasn’t dealt with but they were denied by Jennings who bravely headed the ball over his own cross bar as it floated towards the goal line.

United eventually equalised on the hour mark when a Brennan Dickenson corner was punched down by Scott Davies but only into the path of Pell who was able to steer the ball into an unguarded net.

Tranmere toiled for a winner but Davies had to dive low to his right to palm away a fierce low drive for Szmodics on 73 minutes.

Mellon made a double substitution with quarter of an hour to play and it almost immediately paid off when Barnes first denied Jennings from close range before saving from Paul Mullin on the rebound.

Chances were few and far between thereafter and eventually both sides had to settle for a somewhat frustrating point.

Micky Mellon said: "The performance is good. We played some great football and did some good chances. It’s a good performance all round.

"Obviously we're disappointed to go a goal up and give the goal away the way that we did but we’ve got other chances at the other end that we’ll be very disappointed that we never took.

"But, all in all, a good steady performance. We’re growing into the division well and a lot people can be pleased with how they did today.

“I think we know what Colchester’s game plan was – to try and frustrate and slow things down and the ref helped them with that.

“There was too much blowing of whistles and a lot of bizarre decisions that was confusing for me.

“They knocked it around endlessly and used the holding midfield player, but what did they do with it?

“All in all a good performance, great goal and disappointed that we didn’t take another.”

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Norwood 42)

Colchester United 1 (Pell 60)

Referee: Robert Lewis

Match rating: 2/5

Star man: Manny Monthe (Tranmere defender)

Tranmere: Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Monthe, Bakayogo, Smith (Mottley-Henry 76), McCulloch, Banks, Jennings, Norwood, Stockton (Mullin 76) Subs not used: George, Harris, Ellis, Gilmour, Cole

Colchester: Barnes, Jackson, Kent, Pell, Norris (Mandron 84), Szmodics, Dickenson (Senior 81), Wright, Eastman, Vincent, Nouble Subs not used: Gordon, Ross, Collins, Clampin, Kensdale