Tranmere Rovers 1, Oldham Athletic 1

TRANMERE produced a second half fight back to snatch a point against impressive Oldham Athletic at Prenton Park.

Johan Branger gave the visitors the lead six minutes before the break but Connor Jennings responded 18 minutes from time to share the spoils in what was a titanic battle between two North West rivals.

With their passage to the FA Cup second round eventually cleared midweek, Micky Mellon made four changes to the side that saw off Oxford City.

Captain Steve McNulty, Ollie Banks and Luke McCullough all returned to the side and there was also a rare start for on-loan winger Dylan Mottley-Henry.

Oldham had the first chance of the match five minutes in when Samuel Edmondson glanced a free header wide. He really should have found the net.

Rovers worked hard to shift the ball from one side the pitch to the other, but aside from James Norwood getting in behind once, the Latics defence was proving a tough nut to crack.

Former Oldham midfielder Ollie Banks skewed an ambitious volley well wide 20 minutes in, much to the glee of the travelling supporters behind the goal.

Jordan Lyden tried a similar effort at the other end but he could only slice his attempt over the bar.

When Banks looked to make amends for his earlier effort with a 25-yard free-kick, he could only curl it well over bar, hurling more fuel on the fire of the away crowd.

With neither time seemingly looking to give an inch, it was the visitors who made the breakthrough six minutes before the break.

A corner from Gevaro Nepomuceno wasn't cleared properly and fell for Branger 12 yards out in the middle of the goal, who drilled it past Davies.

Norwood got up well to head a deep free kick into the hands of Daniel Iverson but they trailed at the interval.

The club’s top marksman had a chance to draw level early in the second half with a 25-yard free-kick, but it curled just wide.

Tranmere were on the front foot.

A good attacking foray ended when Connor Jennings hit a weak shot straight at Iverson.

A cross from the right was knocked down by Paul Mullin for Norwood but he could only lash it over the bar.

When Jake Caprice crossed from the right just past the hour mark, his deflected cross reached Connor Jennings at the far post but somehow his six-yard shot was kept out and went behind for a corner.

Ishmael Miller had a chance to double the Latics' lead on 67 minutes but under pressure he shanked his effort wide.

When substitute Sam Surridge went clean through on goal for Oldham he tried to go around Davies but the Rovers ‘keeper got a hand to it – denying a certain second.

They were made to pay for that 18 minutes from time when a ball into the box fell kindly for Jennings who this time fire the ball home.

The former Wrexham captain then turned provider, crossing for Mottley-Henry who missed a header at the back post by inches.

Both teams pushed a for a winner late on, turning the match into an end-to-end gun-slinging contest.

But there was to be no breakthrough and on reflection this was a fair result for two hard-working sides, neither of which deserved to lose.

Rovers boss Micky Mellon said: "I called it on Friday. It would be nip and tuck and there would be nothing in it. It would be the first team to bend that would lose.

"It was a North West head-to-head – you get these in the Football League – both teams had a right good go at it.

"I don't think there was anything left in the two groups at the end so every bit of credit to both sets of players. There was nothing in it.

"In these games, sometimes the margins are in the wee bits of fortune that you get.

"I said to them at half time, we’ve played some good football, go and look for the margins in the game.

"We’ve got a terrific equaliser, it’s a great finish. It was a hard hard North West fought game.

"After half time we were definitely the team in the ascendency. After we scored the game evened itself out again."

Match stats:

Tranmere Rovers 1 (Jennings 72)

Oldham Athletic 1 (Branger 39)

Half time: 0-1

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge

Attendance: 7,150

Star man: Manny Monthe (Tranmere defender)

Match rating: 4/5

Tranmere: Davies, Caprice, McNulty, Monthe, Bakayogo, Mottley-Henry, Banks, McCullough, Jennings, Mullin (Stockton 87), Norwood

Subs not used: George, Ridehalgh, Sutton, Harris, Smith, Gilmour

Oldham: Iverson, Taylor, Edmondson, Lyden (Missilou 87), Gardner, Miller (O’Grady 79), Lang, Branger (Surridge 64), Hunt, Clarke, Nepomuceno

Subs not used: Dummigan, Graham, Maouche, McFarlane