Tranmere Rovers 0, Newport County 1

TRANMERE suffered their first home league defeat of the season after they came unstuck against a dogged Newport County at Prenton Park.

Fraser Franks gave the Exiles the lead just five minutes in and despite some late home pressure, they were able to hold on for all three points.

Newport had suffered the humiliation of a 6-0 home defeat to Yeovil seven days earlier and once they had got their noses in front here, they showed unmatched determination to hold onto their lead.

A home win would have put Rovers ahead of Newport in the table – who started the day in third place – but instead they have now slipped down to 14th.

Micky Mellon made two changes to the side that won at Carlisle last weekend – one expected and one less so.

Paul Mullin's beautiful goal at Brunton Park earned him a starting birth alongside James Norwood at the expense of Cole Stockton.

Right back Adam Buxton made his first league start of the season – in for Jake Caprice, who missed out with a groin injury.

Tranmere started comfortably enough but fell behind to Newport's first attack in the fifth minute.

Padraig Amond headed a cross from Dan Butler into the penalty area and with no defender attacking it purposefully, Franks was able to steal the ball with his chest before stroking it past Davies into the net.

Mullin tried to respond for the hosts five minutes later but his attempted left foot curler went well over the bar.

County should have doubled their lead after 10 minutes when Manny Monthe overplayed and gifted the ball to Antoine Semenyo, but to the relief of the Bebington Kop, he could only drag his shot wide.

Matt Dolan tried his luck with a half-volley on the edge of the Tranmere penalty area but it sailed harmlessly into the stands.

Scott Davies then had to be at his best to tip a bullet header from Mark O'Brien over the bar, as the visitors continued to dominate the match.

A whipped free kick from Buxton was headed just wide from Mullin as Rovers tried to find their way back into the contest.

Norwood then beat the County offside trap only to see his attempted chip sail narrowly over the bar and that was as good as it got for Mellon's men in the first half.

Having created nothing after the break, Mellon made two changes in the 55th minute – bringing on Johnny Smith for the ineffective Dylan Mottley-Henry and Larnell Cole for Connor Jennings.

Amond forced a low save out of Davies – diving down to his left – as Newport went on a rare foray forward.

Norwood dragged an effort wide for Rovers before a dangerous cross from Butler had to be acrobatically cleared by Buxton at the other end.

Tranmere rallied in the last quarter of an hour, forcing their opponent back as they laid siege on the Newport penalty area.

When Joe Day flapped at an Ollie Banks cross, Cole could not get the ball under control quick enough to shoot, allowing Amond to clear his lines.

Substitute then Cole forced a fingertip save out of goalkeeper Day at the death, but it wasn’t enough as Rovers slipped to a maiden home league defeat.

Micky Mellon said afterwards: "It's very frustrating.

"To lose a goal so early from a second phase free kick is obviously something every team wants to try and avoid.

"It's something that you believe that you shouldn't do and to lose it as early as that created a bit of frustration.

"We never really got into a rhythm and allowed ourselves to be man-to-man marked all over the pitch. Our movement wasn't what it usually is.

"When we did get it into the forward areas we weren't imaginative enough.

"We never really did much of the stuff that we work on, on Thursday and Friday.

"It was that type of day where we were freeing full backs up but not really showing the imagination or ability that was needed to unlock a Newport team that defended their 18-yard box very well.

"We've got to be more aggressive when the balls go in there.

"We've got to show more optimism and better movement.

"It was just that type of day, stop-started by a referee who I thought was poor."


Match stats:

Tranmere Rovers 0

Newport County 1

Franks 5

Half time: 0-1

Referee: Carl Boyeson 2/5

Match rating: 2/5

Attendance: 5,745

Tranmere: Davies, Buxton, McNulty, Monthe, Bakayogo, Mottley-Henry (Smith 55), McCulloch, Banks, Jennings (Cole 55), Norwood, Mullin (Stockton 72)

Subs not used: George, Harris, Ellis, Gilmour

Newport: Day, Butler, Franks, Dolan (Sheehan 62), Amond, Bakinson, Bennett, Forbes, O’Brien, Demetriou, Semenyo (Matt 79)

Subs not used: Harris, Pring, Townsend, Cooper