Tranmere Rovers 4 FC Halifax Town 2

IT was raining goals at Prenton Park on Saturday as Tranmere got back to winning ways with a highly entertaining victory over FC Halifax Town in the National League.

James Norwood gave the hosts a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes before newcomer Larnell Cole and Dylan Mottley-Henry added a couple more after the break.

Town responded twice in the second half, but there was no stopping the Whites, who put in their most attackingly fluid performance of the season.

Despite signing two wingers on Friday afternoon, Micky Mellon resisted the temptation to throw them straight in, with only Cole earning himself a place on the bench.

Jeff Hughes returned to the starting XI at the expense of Ollie Norburn while striker Andy Cook found himself back amongst the substitutes with Gerry McDonagh getting the nod ahead of him.

Tranmere made a positive start and were quickly rewarded when a telling cross from lively Jay Harris was turned in by Norwood after only six minutes.

The former Forest Green striker should have had another a minute later but scuffed his close range effort before Scott Garner bundled the ball behind for a corner.

He didn't have to wait long for his second to arrive though.

A rapid counter attack on the quarter of an hour mark released Mottley-Henry down the right side and his cross found Hughes and his half-volley was chested into the net on the line by Norwood.

The Shaymen were rattled.

A cross from McDonagh only just evaded the outstretched boot of Norwood before Jennings fired a volley over from the edge of the box.

Norwood was massively enjoying the occasion but had to leave the field in the 22nd minute after a clash of heads left him with a gaping head wound. He was unable to continue and was replaced by debutant Cole.

The visitors nearly pulled one back on the half hour, when Tom Denton beat Scott Davies in the air to a corner, but his headed effort was nodded off the line by Harris.

The game lost a bit of it's early fizz after the departure of Norwood but Connor Jennings pulled an effort wide of the goal before the break, as Rovers continued to lead the charge.

Cole fired his first effort for the Birkenhead club over the bar as Tranmere concluded a very satisfactory first half.

To their credit, Halifax pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute, when captain Matt Brown headed home from a corner.

But within a minute, Rovers' two-goal cushion was restored when Cole saw a right-footed effort deflect past ‘keeper Johnson for a goal on his debut.

The Shaymen were taking serious risks with a high defensive line and they were punished just before the hour mark when Mottley-Henry latched onto a loose ball in the centre circle, before stretching his legs for 40 yards and stroking the ball home for a fourth of the afternoon.

Halifax weren't done for the afternoon however and when Rovers failed to deal with a ball into the box, Batty was on hand to smash home a second ball on the edge of the box.

Harris lashed a 20-yarder just wide, as the hosts tried to put the game to bed once and for all, but McNulty had to head one over his bar with Davies stranded as Town continued to pose an areal threat.

With 13 minutes remaining super-sub Cole was replaced himself by Cook, as Mellon seemingly looked for a long-ball insurance policy.

McDonagh wanted a penalty when he out-paced Scott McManus and went to ground in the box but the referee waved claims away.

If the on-loan striker was guilty of anything, it was perhaps making more of a meal of it than he needed to.

Rovers were able to see the result out safely for a vital three points. Although they still remain in the bottom half of the table, more performances of this potency will quickly see them back amongst the leading pack.

Rovers manager Micky Mellon said afterwwards: "We've scored four goals.

"The performance from start to finish was great.

"There's things that we know that we need to get better at but to score four goals and the quality of them and the performance was very pleasing.

"We're pleased to score at an early stage.

"It allowed us to keep ploughing forward, get the game plan going and the boys can take a hold load of credit for it.

"I thought Gerry McDonagh was outstanding. He lead the line fantastically well with his athleticism and his height.

"I'm really pleased for Dylan Mottley-Henry. He deserves a goal.

"He's worked his socks off since he's been here. He puts a smile on your face."

Match stats

Tranmere Rovers: 4 Norwood 6, 15, Cole 52, Mottley-Henry 59 FC Halifax Town 2 Brown 52, Batty 66

Half time: 2-0

Star man: Dylan Mottley-Henry (Tranmere right midfield)

Attendance: 4,826

Entertainment: 4/5 Ref rating: Matthew Donohue (6/10)

Tranmere (4-4-2): Davies 5; Duggan 6, McNulty 6, Sutton 6, Ridehalgh 6; Mottley-Henry 8, Harris 7, Hughes 7, Jennings 7; Norwood 8 (Cole 25, 7 (Cook 77, 6)), McDonagh 8 Subs not used: Pilling, McEverley, Norburn

FC Halifax (4-4-1-1): Johnson 7; Moyo 5 (MacDonald 39, 6), Brown 7, Garner 5, Wilde 5; Kosylo 6, Lynch 5, Oliver 5 (Clarke 66, 5), McManus 6; Batty 7; Denton 6 Subs not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson, Morgan