Tranmere Rovers 1, Crewe Alexandra 0 

HIGH-flying Tranmere kept their play-off promotion push firmly on track with an important victory over Crewe tonight at Prenton Park.

James Norwood scored his 26th goal of the season to secure a fourth win on the bounce that keeps Rovers right in the pack and bang in form.

Micky Mellon selected the same side that had picked up an impressive victory at Exeter City last weekend.

The hosts had a golden opportunity to take the lead as early as the second minute, when a mistake by George Ray gifted the ball to James Norwood in the penalty area, but he made a complete hash of his shot the chance was wasted.

Norwood turned provider in the 13th minute, measuring a perfect through ball behind the Crewe defence to Johnny Smith, but his attempted chip was way off target.

Crewe were struggling to get out of the own half but shortly before the half hour mark, Zoumana Bakayogo misjudged a ball over the top, letting in Chris Porter, but Scott Davies saved well with his chest.

Mellon was forced into an early change five minutes before the break when Adam Buxton replaced the limping Bakayogo.

Ben Pringle wanted a penalty when he went to ground under pressure in the Crewe box, but the referee gave a free kick the other way.

Substitute Buxton then tried a long-range effort but it skipped harmlessly into the clutches of Ben Garratt.

The second half started with the same processional pace as the first, but when the ball dropped to Norwood in the Crewe penalty area he smacked a fierce shot against the post when he looked almost certain to score.

Perry Ng sent a speculative long-range effort wide for Crewe just past the hour mark before Mellon looked to inject new life into his midfield by bringing on Ollie Banks for the peripheral Smith.

Buxton set up Connor Jennings for a great chance with 24 minutes to go, but he couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet and eventually toe poked it over from inside the 18-yard box.

Rovers were not transitioning the well effectively from back to front, limiting opportunities to create chances but in the 72nd they made the breakthrough with a classic bit of route one football.

A huge punt upfield from Scott Davies reached Norwood in the box, who expertly held off his marker before guiding the ball home.

Banks had a chance to make it two moments later when Jennings squared the ball to him in the box, but he fired just wide.

Rovers looked to be cruising to victory, but with just two minutes to go, substitute Shaun Miller had a golden opportunity to equalise for Crewe only to be brilliantly denied by Davies from point blank range.

The Railwaymen tried to exert some late pressure in injury time but the Whites stood firm to collect all three points in front of season’s best crowd of 7,898, heightening their hopes of a triumphant end to their first season back in the Football League.

The reality is that Tranmere’s season is already a success regardless of how they fair from hereon, but with the form they are now in, anything is possible.

Micky Mellon said afterwards: "I expected a tough game but we deserved the victory. Apart from at the end I don't remember us having to deal with much more. Scotty makes a good save at the end.

"I'm really pleased with the boys. We spoke about what we could affect and one of them wasn’t the conditions and how the game was getting played.

"But we kept going and kept going and we know that we've got quality in the group and at some stage we believe that quality is going to come to fruition and we’re so pleased that it did. We were delighted to see the goal go in.

"It was fantastic win, especially on a Friday night. The atmosphere was electric. I loved it.

"It's really what Tranmere’s all about. I'm really pleased for the fans and now Birkenhead goes mad on a Friday night doesn't it?"

Match stats:

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Norwood 72)

Crewe Alexandra 0

Half time: 0-0

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 7,898

Star man: Scott Davies (Tranmere Goalkeeper)

Match rating: 1/5

Tranmere team (4-4-1-1): Davies, Caprice, Ellis, Monthe, Bakayogo (39 Buxton), Smith (Banks 64), Perkins, McCullough, Pringle (Gilmour 77), Jennings, Norwood

Tranmere subs: Pilling, Nelson, Mullin, Dagnall Crewe team (4-4-2): Garratt, NG, Ray, Nolan, Pickering, Jones, Wintle, Green (Miller 79), Kirk (Bowery 73), Porter, Ainley (Dale 85) Crewe subs: Richards, Lowery, Finney, Sterry