Tranmere suffered a New Year’s Day hangover as they slumped to a miserable 4-1 defeat against promotion-chasing Coventry City at Prenton Park.

A hat-trick from Matt Godden – his second in as many matches – was supplemented by a Jordan Shipley goal as the damaging loss moves Rovers into the League One relegation zone.

But it could have been a different story had Morgan Ferrier not missed a penalty with the score at 2-1, after Connor Jennings had got the Whites back into the match.

Micky Mellon made one change to the team that earned a draw against Blackpool, bringing in George Ray for the injured Manny Monthe.

The Sky Blues took the lead as early as the third minute, when Godden headed home unmarked. There was a hint offside about it but the linesman kept his flag down and the goal stood.

Shell-shocked Rovers responded quickly, with Neil Danns forcing a routine save out of Marko Marosi with a low drive from distance.

When Fankaty Dabo found Zain Westbrooke in the box, he should’ve put Coventry 2-0 up but he wastefully fired over.

Sam McCallum tested Arron Chapman from distance before Jordan Shipley followed suit, as the visitors continued to ask all the questions.

By the 17th minute they doubled their advantage. A ball simply lofted over the heads of Rovers’ static defence by Liam Kelly was met by Shipley, before he calmly controlled it and slotted home.

This was turgid stuff from Tranmere, who were slow to the ball, weak in the tackle and seemingly devoid of attacking intent.

But in the 34th minute, their first passage of play of real quality resulted in a goal. Ferrier laid the ball off for Keiron Morris who threaded a pass through to Jennings first time and he made no mistake, slotting in the bottom right corner.

Shipley curled a free kick over the bar late in the first half but Tranmere had done well to keep themselves in the match after the opening 45 minutes.

Much like against Blackpool, Tranmere started the second period positively. When Ferrier broke into the box, Jennings prodded the ball past goalkeeper Marosi, only to see it cleared off the line.

The offensive continued, with Marosi tipping a blistering drive from Morris over the bar for a corner.

Rovers were the awarded a penalty when George Ray was clattered attempting to get on the end of a cross from Danns.

Ferrier stepped up to take the spot kick but to the Kop’s dismay, wastefully blasted it over the bar.

Having struggled to get out of their own half for 10 minutes, the visitors finally ended Tranmere’s spell of pressure, with Kyle McFadzean heading a cross into the palms of Aaron Chapman.

Godden then beat the offside trap yet again but stuck his shot just over the bar, to the relief of the Prenton Park faithful.

The Whites were soon back on the attack. A free kick from Jake Caprice broke for Ferrier who saw his shot brilliantly blocked from close range for a corner.

But that missed penalty proved decisive, as Coventry extended their lead with 23 minutes remaining.

A swift counter attack allowed substitute Callum O’Hare to feed Godden in the box, who expertly converted his second of the match.

The Sky Blues’ superiority was obvious, but Rovers continued to show endeavour. Mellon brought on Paul Mullin for a lacklustre Corey Blackett-Taylor, before a cross from Caprice was headed off target by the tireless Jennings.

Coventry had no intention to relinquishing their lead however and they were awarded a penalty of their own in stoppage time, when Sid Nelson brought down substitute Callum O’Hare in the box, allowing Godden to complete his hat-trick and take all three points back to the East Midlands.

Micky Mellon said: “I’m disappointed with the goals we gave away. Without a doubt. First half we were not quite at it. Then we came out second half and really turned the screw on a good Coventry side.

“Then we missed the penalty, which we’ll never know if it’s a big turning point but it gets you back to 2-2 with your tails up. 

“And then we just gave away soft goals, we really did. At this level you just can’t. So that’s really where it is. In terms of endeavour we had a lot of lads out there who performed really well, but the defending and the goals that we gave away are not of this level.”

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers 1

Jennings 35

Coventry City 4

Godden 3, 67, 90+2 (pen), Shipley 17

Half time: 1-2

Referee: Will Finnie

Attendance: 7,828

Star man: Connor Jennings (Tranmere midfielder)

Match rating: 3/5

Tranmere team (4-5-1): Chapman, Caprice, Nelson, Ray, Woods, Morris, Danns, Perkins, Jennings, Blackett-Taylor (Mullin 70), Ferrier

Tranmere subs: Pilling, Potter, Spellman, Walker-Rice, Hayde, Payne

Coventry team (4-4-2): Marosi, Rose, McFadzean, Kelly, Hyam, Walsh, Dabo, Godden, Westbrooke (Bakayoko 65), Shipley (O’Hare 65), McCallum

Coventry subs: Wilson, Mason, Allen, Hiwula, Pask