The Valiants wait for an away win in 2018 continues as a singular James Norwood goal condemns Vale to a 1-0 defeat to Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Vale arrived at Prenton Park hoping to end the winless run on the road that dates back to December 2017, though it was Tranmere who started the brighter of the two sides.
Within three minutes James Norwood passed up an opportunity to put the Rovers into the lead. A wicked cross from the right-hand side evaded everyone inside the box, including the Tranmere forward who just couldn’t connect.
From this point on, the first-half proved to be a slow burner as both sides struggled to maintain a foothold on the tie.
Though, the atmosphere inside Prenton Park was tangible as both sets of fans were in full voice during the early encounters.
Scott Brown was forced into action for the first time on 12 minutes, as the Vale stopper palmed away a strong Ollie Banks strike from the edge of the box, away to safety. Just minutes later, Stephen McNulty almost headed past his own ‘keeper, as the centre-half misjudged a pass back to Scott Davies, though the Tranmere number one picked up to relieve the danger.
A resilient Tranmere Rovers kept Aspin’s side frustrated during the first-half as Vale forwards Ricky Miller and Tom Pope were allowed no time on the ball.
As the heated encounter continued, tension inside Prenton Park began to rise with 15 minutes to go, as both sides continued to work each other out.
With just three minutes to go before the half-time period, Connor Jennings had a right footed effort whistle past Scott Brown’s near post, as the Tranmere number 11 almost put the Rovers into the lead from the edge of the box.
The second-half began in similar fashion to the first, as Tranmere were fastest out of the blocks, mounting the early pressure on the Vale defensive line. Norwood had a free-kick deflect narrowly passed the post before a wave of Rovers corner kicks kept Aspin’s side pinned back.
Once again, Micky Mellon’s side failed to capitalise on their early dominance, as that man Norwood once again came close, and would’ve had Tranmere in the lead but for a brilliant Scott Brown save.
Neil Aspin’s side produced their first real opening of the game on 59 minutes. Ricky Miller did brilliantly to hold off a number of challenges on the edge of the box, before he released Hannant down the left-hand side. The Vale number 11 forced a corner kick, and from the resulting set-piece, Leon Legge rose highest to power a header goalward, though his attempt just scraped over the top of the crossbar.
With 25 minutes to go, Aspin’s side began to turn the screw, putting pressure onto the Rovers defence. Ricky Miller and Tom Pope began to link up well to fashion a few chances though the Micky Mellon’s defence remained strong.
It was end-to-end stuff as the game headed into the final 15 minutes. Tranmere were next to knock on the door as Manny Monthe came closest to scoring the opener. The full-back powered a head agonisingly wide, following a whipped in corner kick.
For all of Vale’s pressure, it was Micky Mellon’s side who broke the deadlock on 77 minutes. Norwood on the fifth time of asking, finally made it count. The forward latched onto a whipped in cross from the right-hand side, and forced Brown into a smart save, though the Rovers striker was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Vale threw on Quigley and Worrall to try force a comeback, and the former came closest to getting Aspin’s side on level terms. Legge flicked on a long Scott Brown kick, which eventually fell to Quigley, though the big forward’s strike was straight down the throat of Scott Davies.
Despite Vale throwing everything at the Rovers in the final minutes, Neil Aspin’s side fell to defeat at Prenton Park.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies, McNulty, Monthe, Norwood, Jennings, McCullough, Caprice, Ellis, Smith (Mottley-Henry, 61), Stockton (Mullin, 61), Banks.
Unused Subs: George, Tollitt, Cole, Spellman, Long
Port Vale: Brown, Montano, Joyce, Legge, Kay, Pope, Miler (Worall, 78), Hannant, Rawlinson, Smith (Quigley, 78), Clark.
Unused subs: Gibbons, Hornby, Pugh, Dodds, Vassell