Tranmere missed the chance to move further away from the League One relegation zone after Wycombe went top with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Prenton Park.

Adebayo Akinfenwa nodded home two minutes before the break before a penalty from birthday boy Joe Jacobson on the stroke of half time secured the win for Gareth Ainsworth’s side.

Having made eight changes for the mid-week EFL Trophy match against Salford, Micky Mellon reverted back to the side fielded against Wycombe in the FA Cup last weekend, with one exception; Darren Potter replacing Neil Danns in the heart of midfield.

Rovers made a positive start, with Rushian Hepburn-Murphy finding the side-netting with a rising shot as early as the first minute.

Chairboys centre back Darius Charles attempted to loop a second ball over the head of Scott Davies but it landed on the roof of the net.

They went closer moments later when bruising striker Akinfenwa headed a Jack Grimmer cross straight at the Tranmere stopper. 

Wanderers wanted a penalty when Liam Ridehalgh tangled with Scott Kashket in the box, but the referee waved it away.

At the other end, Kerion Morris cut inside before blazing one into the Kop, as the midfielder looked to add to the brace he scored against the same opposition eight days ago.

When Akinfenwa held off Sid Nelson to tee up Dave Wheeler, Wycombe should have taken the lead but his low shot was weak, allowing Davies to get down and make a comfortable save.

Five minutes before the break, a counter-attack opportunity presented itself to Hepburn-Murphy after Connor Jennings played him in, but with Jake Caprice busting a gut to assist him, mis control ended the attack.

But it was Wanderers who took the lead when they failed to deal with Jacobson’s dead ball delivery, allowing Akinfenwa to head home unmarked.

Things got worse for Tranmere two minutes later, when Darren Potter brought down Wheeler in the box, gifting their opponents a spot kick on the stroke of half time.

The dependable Jacobson made no mistake from the spot, sending Wycombe in at half time with a two-goal cushion.

Recognising an urgent need to change the direction of the game, Mellon made a double substitution at half time, bringing on Corey Blackett-Taylor and Morgan Ferrier for Ridehalgh and David Perkins. It later emerged that defender Ridehalgh will undergo a scan for a suspected broken foot.

It was Wycombe who had the first chance of the second half however, when Matthew Bloomfield was allowed too much space to turn in the box, forcing a good save out of Davies.

Chances were at a premium at either end, but after a period of mild pressure on the visitors’ goal, Potter was booked for foiling a Wycombe counter attack illegally on the half way line.

Rovers pushed for a way back into the match and Ryan Allsop had to be at his best to deny Blackett-Taylor’s curling freekick that was destined for the top corner.

Mellon threw on Paul Mullin for Hepburn-Murphy with 20 minutes to go, injecting more fresh legs into his attack.

Blackett-Taylor tested the palms of Allsop with another strike before Jennings fired one over the bar, as Tranmere continued to knock on the door.

The lively Ferrier cannoned an ambitious long-ranger wide but Wycombe substitute Nick Freeman went closer still, curling one off target with Davies beaten.

Allsop pulled off a stunning reflex save to deny Kieron Morris late on but that was all Tranmere had in the end and they will have to reflect on the reality that they were comfortably beaten here by a better team.

They won’t have to wait long to try their luck against Wycombe again however – they meet again in an FA Cup replay at Adams Park on Wednesday night.

Micky Mellon said: 

“We knew the threats that we were going to face – Akinfenwa and free kicks – the disappointing thing is when you know what you’re going to face, to be undone by the things that you’re absolutely 100% sure you’re going to have to be good at is really frustrating.

“Sometimes when you come up against teams and they have some good play and things that you haven’t seen in games that you’ve played against them before, you have to say that’s football because football can be random, but there’s nobody telling me that they came to the game today and never thought that’s there’s going to be direct play from free kicks. 

“When you know that they’re coming in, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you’re going to have to be lively around Akinfenwa.”

After the match, it emerged that Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper Ryan Allsop reported an incident of alleged homophobic abuse to the referee at half time. A further statement is expected from Tranmere Rovers regarding the incident.


Tranmere Rovers 0

Wycombe Wanderers 2

Akinfenwa 43, Jacobson (pen) 45

Half time: 0-2

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 5,460

Star man: Morgan Ferrier (Tranmere striker)

Match rating: 2/5

Tranmere team (4-3-3): Davies, Caprice, Nelson, Monthe, Ridehalgh (Blackett-Taylor 46), Morris, Potter, Perkins (Ferrier 46), Wilson, Jennings, Hepburn-Murphy (Mullin 71)

Tranmere subs: Pilling, Ray, Maddox, Payne

Wycombe team (4-4-2): Allsop, Jacobson, Gape, Stewart, Wheeler (Ofoborh 78), Bloomfield (Freeman 54), Kashket (Samuel 62), Thompson, Grimmer, Akinfenwa, Charles

Wycombe subs: Yates, Pattison, Phillips, Smith