TRANMERE Rovers' eight match unbeaten run ended with a whimper as Northampton Town ran out 2-0 winners at Prenton Park.

The victory for the Cobblers ensured they leapfrogged the hosts into third place in League Two as Micky Mellon's men slipped out of the play places into eighth on a chastening afternoon for Rovers.

"We're disappointed," said Mellon following the final whistle."Obviously you want to win every game especially after the run we've been on.

"I don't think we got going and we lacked a wee bit of sparkle today. When we did get any quality balls into the box we lacked the wee bit of devilment to get on the end of things.

"The goals we gave away were disappointing and it's not been like us recently. The game just fizzled out on us and although we tried ways to get that sparkle and energy and quality into the group it just wasn't to be."

Rovers had a goal disallowed in the 26th minute as goalkeeper Liam Roberts was fouled in the box, but that was just about as good as it got for the home side with the visitors taking control of the match after half time.

With Northampton on the offensive, Paul Lewis missed a glorious chance seconds after the restart as he headed straight at Tranmere goalkeeper Ross Doohan.

But Jon Brady's side took the lead in the 52nd minute as Tottenham loanee Kion Etete showed superb technique to half volley home Mitch Pinnock's pinpoint low cross from the left.

Northampton then doubled their lead in the 68th minute when midfielder Sam Hoskins dispatched a penalty after Paul Lewis was fouled by Doohan as he rounded the keeper.

Etete continued to impress and the Cobblers could have won by more if it was not for a fine reflex save by Doohan and Hoskins' long range shot rattling the crossbar.

"I thought the referee was terrible," said Mellon, who felt Ali Koiki should've received a second yellow card for a challenge in the second half.

"It was one of the poorest performances I've seen for a long time but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. We didn't perform the way we can and we looked like we lacked fizz and sparkle.

"It was just one of those afternoons but we've got to look at ourselves and see that we lacked that bit of what we've been good at recently.

"When we need quality and composure to make that little pass we didn't do it at the right times and we didn't get into the areas we have been getting into recently.

"The goals we gave away were disappointing and made it very difficult for ourselves but we've been on a terrific run and we'll get ready over the week ahead to go again."

Tranmere next travel to Mansfield town on Saturday and Mellon said the squad would work hard ahead of the trip to Nottinghamshire.

"We have a way of playing and we won't stop doing that," added Mellon. "We just have to get better and get back to being good at that.

"We won't change the way we play - instead we have to show more quality when needed when we get in those vital areas.

"We'll work on it again next week and get ready to go next Saturday. We'll get some energy back into the lads and get working on what we do as a group and concentrate on being good at that."

Tranmere: Ross Doohan, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Calum MacDonald, Tom Davies, Kieron Morris (sub Mark Duffy 61), Jay Spearing, Liam Feeney (sub Nicky Maynard 72), Callum McManaman, Sam Foley (sub Ryan Watson 78), Elliott Nevitt, Peter Clarke
Subs not used: Joe Murphy, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Paul Glatzel, Lee O'Connor
Northampton: Liam Roberts, Aaron McGowan, Fraser Horsfall, Jon Guthrie, Ali Koiki (sub Dominic Revan 90), Shaun McWilliams, Jack Sowerby, Paul Lewis, Sam Hoskins, Kion Etete (sub Danny Rose 87), Mitch Pinnock
Subs not used: Charlie Woods, Jordan Flores, Dylan Connolly, Nicke Kabamba, Scott Pollock

Referee: Tom Nield