Keith Hill hopes that David Nugent can enjoy a significant end to the season after the veteran striker earned Tranmere a 1-0 victory over Barrow AFC that all but secured a playoff position.

Nugent has struggled to make the desired impact since signing for Rovers in January, but his half time introduction proved crucial against the Bluebirds, with the 35-year-old not only heading the only goal of the game, but also putting in what was arguably his best all round performance for the Birkenhead club, silencing his doubters in the process.

Wirral Globe: Jay Spearing shoots at goal. Photo: Gaz EarndenJay Spearing shoots at goal. Photo: Gaz Earnden

Hill said: "I've not realised that there's been any criticism coming his way.

"I wouldn't be so disrespectful to somebody who's represented England and played in the Premier League.

"I don't know who we are to judge - and that includes myself - somebody like David Nugent with the career that he's had.

"I wouldn't dare judge him, knowing where I've played and what I've done and my career as a manager.

"I think that he's had a very good 45 minutes. He's been a key component on what we're trying to do during the time that Vaughny's (James Vaughan) not been fit.

Wirral Globe: Kaiyne Woolery chases after a loose ball. Photo: Gaz EarndenKaiyne Woolery chases after a loose ball. Photo: Gaz Earnden

"He hasn't quite hit the straps, where we would expect him to, so let's hope today that's the start of what could be a magnificent end to the season for him."

Changes at the interval were inevitable after a dour first half in which both sides struggled to get anything going offensively.

Danny Lloyd and Kieron Morris were replaced by Nugent and Otis Khan and it was this change in personnel and formation which then allowed Rovers to finally get on the front foot and start creating chances.

The visitors were sent a warning early in the second half when Joel Dixon was forced to make a smart save from Peter Clarke, after the defender met a corner from Liam Feeney.

Paul Lewis then went close from another Feeney corner before Tranmere's best move of the the match resulted in Calum MacDonald side-footing wide from close range following a low cross from Kaiyne Woolery. Rovers continued to pile on the pressure and they eventually made the breakthrough in the 67th minute.

Another killer delivery from Feeney was this time met by Nugent, who climbed highest to glace a beautiful header into the far corner, giving the hosts a deserved lead.

Boosted by his goal, Nugent went looking for another and he nearly had one when a curled effort from the edge of the box beat Dixon but sailed just past the post.

The goalscorer then turned provider, delivering a fine cross for Lewis, who saw his header tipped over the bar by the now overworked Barrow goalkeeper.

Ultimately a second goal eluded Rovers, but they were able to comfortably hold on for all three points, securing back-to-back league wins for the first time since March 2.

Elsewhere, a win for Bolton at Morecambe gave Wanderers a four point cushion over Rovers and the Shrimpers, meaning that it will almost certainly be the playoffs once again for Tranmere, if they are to return straight back to League One after their unjust 'demotion' last season.

Wirral Globe: Keith Hill was impressed with the performance by David Nugent against Barrow AFCKeith Hill was impressed with the performance by David Nugent against Barrow AFC

But Rovers' boss Hill hasn't given up all hope of a top three finish and can see signs that his team are beginning to return to some form.

He said: "I think we're doing well, but the season's not over. We've got two more league games. We want to get six points and see where that takes us.

"But were encouraged by two wins in a week. It lifts everybody. I previously said that there's not been an awful lot wrong.

"We've kept four clean sheets out of the last five. We just need to have a little more freedom in the offensive area of the pitch."

so that we can score maybe more than one goal but one goal is enough at the minute with the way that we've defended.

"Sam Allerdyce lives just around the corner from me and he's been very successful on clean sheets."