Tranmere Rovers 1, Lincoln City 0

TERRIFIC Tranmere conjured a stirring second half performance to clinch a superb victory over table-toppers Lincoln City at Prenton Park.

James Norwood scored his eighth goal of the season before seeing red in stoppage time after Rovers fought off constant first half pressure to turn the game on its head.

Victory moves Micky Mellon's men back up to 10th in League Two, just a point outside the play-off positions.

The Scot kept faith with the same starting XI that collected a point at MK Dons on Saturday.

The first chance of the match fell to the Imps when Harry Toffolo's corner was headed goal bound by John Akinde, forcing a reflex save out of Scott Davies.

Moments later Shay McCarten ran beyond Rovers rear guard and took the ball around Davies, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Luke McCullough.

Reaffirming their status as league leaders, Lincoln dominated the opening 30 minutes, with Tranmere struggling to get out of their own half.

A shot from Tom Pett was deflected wide for a corner, as City kept up the pressure on their hosts, who were working hard to keep them at bay.

To their credit, Tranmere weathered the early storm and tried to create opportunities.

Norwood headed a Johnny Smith cross down for Cole Stockton, but his weak shot was easily gathered by Josh Vickers.

Rovers came close shortly before the break when a Steve McNulty header was spilled on the line by Vickers, but the City 'keeper recovered just in time.

He then swiftly started a counter attack, which ended when Bruno Andrade pulled his shot wide at the other end.

Sensing the danger, Mellon made a strategic substitution at half-time, bringing on Harvey Gilmour for Stockton and reverting to a five-man midfield.

The improvement was immediate as Tranmere started to win possession in dangerous areas and pose problems for City's defence.

Rovers had two dubious penalty appeals waved away before Norwood whistled a header just past the near post from Smith's cross.

Buoyed by their improvement, Zoumana Bakayogo flashed a ball across the face of the goal but no one gambled on it and it ran to safety.

Just past the hour mark Tranmere were rewarded for their efforts when they took the lead.

A flick over the top from Ollie Banks was met by Norwood who composed himself before rolling the ball past Vickers into the net.

Shell-shocked City responded through Harry Anderson but Davies flicked his effort around the post for a corner.

Substitute Matt Green saw an overhead kick land in the Cowsheds as Danny Cowley's side toiled for an equaliser.

But despite bringing burly striker Matt Rhead off the bench, there was no way through Tranmere's wall of resistance.

Rovers had chances late on the double their lead through Connor Jennings and a drilled effort from Ollie Banks that hit the side netting.

In time added on Norwood was shown a red card for collecting a second caution for kicking the ball away but it proved academic to the result as the hosts held firm for an superb victory, with substitute Gilmour the catalyst.

Mellon said afterwards: "It's a massive win against the league leaders. We had to get a lot right to try and get the result.

"In the first half we maybe felt that we weren't getting quite as close as we wanted to but all credit to the boys, we've come out second half and juggled it around a little bit and it's worked really well for us.

"I'm really pleased in the end the get an important three points. It's a great night for the club.

"They've got some big units and then they bring on players that just seemed to get bigger as they come off the bench.

"So all credit to the boys for continuing to do their jobs – winning their headers winning the knock-downs and getting us over the line.

"I don't want to say too much about what we did (at half-time) because the other manager is watching, but we knew that we had to change."

Match stats:

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Norwood 62)

Lincoln City 0

Half time: 0-0

Referee: Andy Haines

Attendance: TBC

Star man: Harvey Gilmour (Tranmere midfielder)

Match rating: 3/5

Tranmere team: Davies, Buxton, McNulty, Monthe, Bakayogo, Smith (Mottley-Henry), McCullough, Banks, Jennings, Norwood, Stockton (Gilmour 45)

Tranmere subs: George, Mullin, Caprice, Ellis, Cole

Lincoln team: Vickers, Shackell, Pett, Frecklington, Andrade, Toffolo, Bostwick, McCarten (Green 68), Eardley, Anderson (O’Connor 81), Akinde (Rhead 68)

Lincoln subs: Wharton, Wilson, Mensah, Smith