Tranmere suffered a fifth straight league loss after they were beaten 2-0 by promotion-chasing Portsmouth at Prenton Park.

Goals in either half from Sean Raggett and Ryan Williams ensured that the visitors took all three points back to the south coast, leaving Rovers cut adrift from safety, as the pressure continues to mount on a side that has only scored two league goals since the turn of the year.

Micky Mellon made two changes to the side that lost here to Doncaster mid-week, recalling centre back George Ray and fit-again winger Corey Blackett-Taylor.

Promotion-chasing Pompey had the first chance of the match when Ronan Curtis forced a full-stretch save out of Scott Davies and Callum Woods reacted quickest to deny Ryan Williams a certain goal on the rebound.

The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute in familiar fashion. A freekick from Curtis evaded everyone before Raggett nodded it home unmarked from close range.

Tranmere responded quickly and nearly equalised when Alex Bass denied Blackett-Taylor before Andy Cook’s backheel was cleared off the line by Christian Burgess and Alex Woodyard’s rebound was brilliantly blocked by Ben Close.

Rovers looked like they could get some joy with high balls into the box and when Kane Wilson crossed from the right Cook beat his man but couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball to trouble Bass sufficiently.

They went close again moments later, when Blackett-Taylor hit the bi-line and crossed for Cook, but somewhat distracted by James Vaughan, the big striker missed his header with the goal at his mercy.

Just before halftime, Calum Woods sent another ball in from the right but this time under pressure, Cook could only nod it wide.

Then in first half injury time, Pompey ‘keeper Bass wandered far out of his penalty area and missed the ball, but as Cook tried to capitalise his effort on goal was heroically blocked by Burgess.

Liam Ridehalgh replaced Wilson at half time but Tranmere found themselves 2-0 down six minutes after the restart when the substitute played Williams onside, allowing him to drill the ball low past Davies into the corner of the net.

Mellon made a double substitution on the hour – one enforced and one tactical – bringing on Neil Danns for the injured Calum Woods and Morgan Ferrier for Vaughan.

Ferrier managed to weave himself an opportunity in the Portsmouth penalty area but from a tight angle he could only flash the ball wide of the goalmouth.

Kieron Morris, who had been industrious throughout, pulled a good chance wide following a goalmouth scramble, as Rovers tried to force their way back into the match.

Tranmere threw bodies forward and won a succession of corners but could not take advantage of any of them.

When Cook finally got a shooting opportunity on his left foot, he hurried his effort and could only shank it well wide.

In the end, the visitors were able to see that game out comfortably.

Tranmere may not have been expected to get much out of their higher quality opponents here, but the more worrying fact is that Rovers have failed to score a single goal in their last four league games and it is difficult to see where the next goal is coming from, let alone three points.

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers 0

Portsmouth 2

Raggett 13, Williams 51

Half time: 0-1

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Attendance: TBA

Star man: Kieron Morris (Tranmere midfielder)

Match rating: 2/5

Tranmere team (4-4-2): Davies, Woods (Danns 59), Ray, Monthe, Wilson (Ridehalgh 46), Morris, Woodyard, McCullough, Blackett-Taylor, Vaughan (Ferrier 59), Cook

Tranmere subs: Pilling, Jennings, Perkins, Gilmour

Portsmouth team (4-4-2): Bass, Raggett, Naylor, Burgess, Williams, Curtis, Bolton, McGeehan, Seddon, Close, Harrison

Portsmouth subs: MacGillivray, Brown, Marquis, McCrorie, Evans, Harness, Whatmough