Crawley fell to defeat at a wet and windy Prenton Park this afternoon. Peter Clarke opened the scoring for the home side before substitute Kwesi Appiah equalised in the second half. Clarke, however, scored a second goal again with his head in the 80th minute to give Tranmere all three points.
The weather certainly did not deter either side in the opening stages at Prenton Park, as both sides looked to create chances in the opening stages. The Reds won a free-kick midway inside the Tranmere half just moments after the referee had blown the whistle. Jack Powell floated a delivery into the box, but the ball was cleared away at the first time of asking by a Rovers defender.
Crawley were forced into an early change in only the 15th minute as Ludwig Francillette appeared to have sustained a very nasty head injury. A fairly tame collision between Elliot Nevitt and Francillette saw both players fall to the ground clutching their heads. Nevitt was cleared to continue, but Ludwig had to leave the field in place of Tony Craig.
The Reds Devils were playing some delightful football in the first half and almost took a deserved lead in the 23rd minute as Sam Ashford struck the crossbar. Tom Nichols did brilliantly to reclaim possession before taking on several Rovers men, and after a quick interchange with Jack Powell, the ball was delivered to Ashford, who curled an effort onto the crossbar.
Despite the pressure from the Reds in the opening thirty minutes, it was Tranmere who took the lead. Kieron Morris produced an outrageous piece of skill on the edge of the box to beat two Crawley defenders before clipping a ball into the penalty area. Peter Clarke rose highest and flicked the ball past Morris into the Crawley net.
Rovers took the lead into half-time as neither side made an impression on goal in the remaining 15 minutes.
The Reds started the second half on the front foot and won a free-kick in a dangerous position wide on the right-wing. The set-piece was cleared to the edge of the box where Jack Payne fired a first-time volley at goal, but the midfielder saw his effort skim the roof of the net.
The hosts were beginning to put some nice sequences of play together and looked the team more likely to find the second goal. The Reds, however, showed their true fighting spirit and found an equaliser through Kwesi Appiah. Nichols played a delightful ball to Ashford, who immediately turned towards goal. The striker forced a save from Ross Doohan, but the goalkeeper spilt the ball into the path of Appiah, who tapped into an empty net.
Rovers perhaps should have retaken the lead as Sam Foley went one on one with Glenn Morris following a quick counter-attack from the hosts. Foley failed to convert past Morris. Only moments later, Rovers did retake the lead as Peter Clarke scored his second of the game. A Tranmere corner was whipped into the box, a first header was saved by Morris, but the ball fell kindly to Clarke, allowing the defender to power a header into the back of the net.
Tranmere defended a flurry of Crawley attacks in the closing stages and held on to claim all three points at Prenton Park.
Morris; Tsaroulla; Dallison, Francillette (Craig 14’), Francomb; Payne, Hessenthaler, Powell, Davies (Appiah 56’), Nichols, Ashford (Marshall 80’).