TRANMERE Rovers' first away outing back in League One ended in a 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Ben Close's long-range volley midway through the first-half separated the two sides at the break.

Tom Naylor scored the second goal for Portsmouth with 15 minutes to play, turning in from close-range after a corner.

Manager Micky Mellon handed a debut to new loan signing Kane Wilson, while Morgan Ferrier and Darren Potter came in for Jordan Ponticelli and Stefan Payne.

Backed by 639 of the SuperWhiteArmy, early on in the fixture down on the South Coast, Tranmere went close through centre-back Manny Monthe forced Craig MacGillivray into a low stop from Kieron Morris’ corner.

Rovers threatened again inside the opening 20 minutes when Morris drove forward and saw his left-footed shot go narrowly past MacGillivray bottom right-post.

Naylor tested Rovers goalkeeper and captain Scott Davies with an attempt from outside the box Portsmouth led on 27 minutes when Close thumped in a right-footed volley from 30-yards which found the top-right corner, profiting from a loose ball after Davies had saved Andy Cannon’s close-range attempt.

As half-time approached in Hampshire, Connor Jennings drew MacGillivray into a save with a right-footed strike from outside the penalty area after being played through by Liam Ridehalgh.

After the interval, Anton Walkes saw his left-footed drive from the right side of the box go high over Davies' crossbar as Pompey looked to begin the half by scoring a second.

Shortly later, Ronan Curtis broke on the counter attack for the hosts, feeding Lee Brown, but shooting right-footed 10-yards from goal, he couldn't hit the target when well positioned.

Forward Corey Blackett-Taylor was brought on as the hour mark approached in place of Connor Jennings to make his competitive debut for the club, while Payne came on for Ferrier as Rovers pushed to level.

And they went close with 25 minutes of the game to play, when Monthe glanced his header just past the post from Morris’ enticing corner from the right.

Morris twice had openings to level, with MacGillivray thwarting the midfielder’s second attempt.

Kenny Jackett’s Pompey doubled their lead with 75 minutes on the clock through midfielder Naylor, who reacted first after David Perkins had cleared a downward header from a corner off the line, to stab the ball over the line.

In the closing 10 minutes, Brett Pittman’s volley deflected off his own player and just over Davies’ upright.

Rovers' boss Micky Mellon said: "There needed to be a consistency of our performance over the course of the game and we lost the first goal which was a cracker.

"Any opportunities we had to get forward into the final third, we had to show a bit more composure and have a bit more quality.

"We lose a goal from a set play as well and again it is just about consistency in performance over the 90 minutes.

"I spoke to the lads and I said we have to improve on our consistency and our performance in a game.

"At times we showed good moments but the game carries on and we still have to be better.

"We will work on how to improve and be better in situations all the time and we want to come here and try and get results.

"We want to win games, we're in this league to give a good account of ourselves and come to places like this and show a constant performance over 90 minutes.

"At certain moments we showed that we need improvements and that’s what it’s going to be all about this league."

Rovers face Hull City in the Carabao Cup first-round tie against Hull City at Prenton Park on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm).