By Josh Roberts
Tranmere Rovers put a run of three games without a win in all competitions behind them as they beat play-off chasing Maidstone United 4 – 0 in the National League at Prenton Park on Saturday.
First half goals from centre forward pairing James Norwood and Andy Cook helped Rovers to a 2 – 0 half time lead.
The Super White’s added two more goals in the second period thanks to Ollie Norburn and a second from Norwood taking him tally to nine for the season.
Maidstone had few chances with the best falling to Zavon Hines and Delano Sam-Yorke but Scott Davies made the crucial saves to keep the opposition scoreless.
Tranmere made an excellent start to the game and their intention to attack and press was clear from the off. Just a minute on the clock the tricky Dylan Mottley-Henry found himself in the box but United centre half Alex Finney was goal side of the winger and did just enough to ensure the Rovers’ man couldn’t connect with his shot cleanly.
The Super White’s account for the afternoon was opened on seven minutes through James Norwood after fantastic work from Eddie Clarke. The young left back making his second consecutive start in the absence of Liam Ridehalgh, charged down the left channel before whipping in a perfect ball to Norwood who delicately flicked past Lee Worgan in the Maidstone goal.
Barely 15 minutes into the match Tranmere had doubled their lead thanks to Andy Cook. Norwood and Connor Jennings combined brilliantly down the left hand side with some lovely interplay. The latter passed to Cook in the box who did well to sort his feet out and poke the ball past the hapless Worgan.
Rovers were a team barely recognisable from past performances this season as they pressed and hounded Maidstone high up the pitch at every opportunity but it was The Stones who carved out the next best opportunities of the half.
The first fell to Hines who was played in behind the Tranmere defence. With just Scott Davies to beat, the former West Ham man could only fire straight at the Rovers no.1 who spread his body well to deny the winger.
Davies was again called upon before the half ended as Sam-Yorke found space in the box after young centre half Evan Gumbs failed to clear his lines but his ‘keeper rescued him as he saved expertly well to keep Maidstone scoreless at the break.
The second half was a mostly a drab affair, mirroring the conditions at Prenton Park as the rain fell, but 15 minutes from time as United searched for a way to get back into the game, Tranmere put the game to bed.
Clarke was involved again as his cross towards Cook wasn’t dealt with by Worgan, his punch was tame and only found Norburn on the edge of the box. The midfielder took a touch to compose himself before firing in a strike into the top corner to secure all three points.
The impressive Adam Buxton wanted in on the action, a speculative effort from the right back from 35 yards out took a slight deflection and almost wrong footed Worgan but he pulled off a superb save to tip over.
Minutes later Buxton found himself in the mix again, his shot was turned away but only into the path of Norwood who comprehensively converted his second of the afternoon to wrap up a much needed win for Micky Mellon’s side.
The win means Tranmere move into eleventh and into the top half of the table for the first time this season.
Despite the lowly position, Rovers find themselves just four points off a play-off spot and eight points off the top of the league.
88’ | Eddie Clarke awarded man of the match in front of 4126 fans this afternoon! #TRFC
— Tranmere Talk (@TranmereTalk) November 25, 2017
With players coming back from injury and suspension, as well as the emergence of youngsters in the squad especially Eddie Clarke who was voted man-of-the-match, there is cause for optimism for Tranmere for the rest of the season.