— Tranmere Talk (@TranmereTalk) February 3, 2018
Two goals from James Norwood and one from Andy Cook helped Tranmere register a thoroughly-deserved 3-0 home win against Ebbsfleet United.
Both sides struggle to settle in the opening exchanges, with several erratic challenges thrown in by the visitors as they looked to stem the flow of the match.
Rovers dealt the first blow after a quarter of an hour as Cook unleashed an absolute rocket from 20-yards, leaving Nathan Ashmore stranded between the posts.
Ashmore made a number of crucial saves in the first-half to prevent further damage to his side, but Tranmere’s persistence paid off as Norwood made it 2-0 before half-time.
Tranmere’s number 10 registered his 50th goal for the Super Whites shortly after the hour mark to cap off a very impressive performance, where Ebbsfleet hardly had a kick.
The result sees Micky Mellon’s side move up to fourth place in the Vanarama National League table, but more importantly only two points off the top of the table.
Rovers came into the match having secured a valuable point away at Wrexham last weekend, with confidence in the camp at all time high given their recent form at Prenton Park. Both sides struggled to settle into the game at first, though Micky Mellon’s side had far more ball possession in the early exchanges.
The Super Whites opened the scoring after quarter of an hour as Cook scored his 14th domestic goal of the campaign. The 27-year old’s solo effort was a joy to behold as he made space for himself before hitting an absolute cannon into the top-corner from 20-yards, leaving Ashmore with no chance.
Ebbsfleet looked to make a quick reply but the Rovers rearguard was equal to much of what the visitors tried to create. Daryl McMahon’s side were arguably one of the most aggressive and physical sides that Tranmere have faced this season, but this didn’t stop the Super Whites by any means.
Rovers could easily have scored twice in quick succession but for the efforts of Ashmore and a goal-line clearance from Dean Rance. Tranmere’s persistence eventually payed off before the break as Norwood found himself in acres of space and made it 2-0 with a curling left-footed effort from outside the box.
Micky Mellon’s side went into the break with the game effectively killed off, as Ebbsfleet struggled to keep up with the intensity of the Tranmere attack. Norwood had a golden opportunity to score Rovers’ third goal shortly after the restart, as he squandered a one-on-one chance from close range.
The second-half started out much like the first, with a lot of scrappiness from both sides though Tranmere remained on the front-foot. Ebbsfleet continued to run off scraps as the majority of their efforts on goal sailed over the crossbar.
After an hour the result was signed, sealed and delivered with Norwood’s 50th goal for the club. The joy was written on the player’s face as he bagged a collectors item in his book, a one-on-one.
His hoodoo in those situations has haunted him throughout this season and it was a relief to see one finally end up in the back of the net. Tranmere’s third incidentally marked the team’s 50th goal of the domestic campaign, making them the third highest-scoring side in the division.
With the result very much decided, Rovers settled down and were more conservative in their approach. Micky Mellon introduced Jeff Hughes and Andy Mangan to the pitch in the final 15 minutes, but the biggest moment was the introduction of Ben Tollitt.
The wingers’ return has been much anticipated by the Super White Army, and his four-month absence being broken was marked with a standing ovation right around Prenton Park for the 23-year old.
Ebbsfleet never gave up, even in the latter stages, but Tranmere were by far the better side on the day. The visitors came close to getting a consolation goal in the last five minutes, but Bradley Bubb couldn’t get on the end of Danny Kedwell’s cross.
Tranmere go into next week first with a behind closed door friendly on Tuesday, though the main focus will be on the domestic fixture away at Leyton Orient next Saturday.