Tranmere boss Micky Mellon rued missed first-half opportunities as his side fell to defeat against promotion-chasing Sunderland.
Charlie Wyke’s 60th-minute header condemned Tranmere to defeat, leaving Mellon’s side 21st in League One, six points from safety.
In a nip and tuck opening 45, both teams had great chances to take the lead. Sunderland defender Bailey Wright headed over from close range before Kane Wilson’s dipping free-kick was dealt with comfortably by Jon McLaughlin.
The tightly-contested theme ran throughout the whole match, as both side’s struggled to find any sort of real rhythm.
But it was the visitors who struck the only goal of the game. Wyke getting on the end of Chris Maguire’s wide free-kick to send the travelling support into delirium.
With time running out, Tranmere turned up the pressure, however, there was a spanner thrown into the works with just six minutes remaining.
Manny Monthe brought down George Dobson and referee Anthony Coggins showed no hesitation in issuing the centre-back with a second yellow card.
“I genuinely think we were the better side,” Mellon told the press. “I think the second half was even and became a bit of a stalemate.
“I always had that worry in my mind that it wasn’t going to be the players who decided how this game went and, unfortunately, I was correct.
“The boys had a really good go against a Sunderland team who are on a really good run.
“I think you would have to say that a draw would have been a fair result, we didn’t deserve to lose the game and that is the frustrating thing,” Mellon explained.
“But you have to look at it in terms of energy, fight, desire, it was all there, especially as we were looking for a reaction from Sunday.
“In terms of that, I thought the lads were pretty faultless.”
? | Tranmere boss Micky Mellon reflects on his side's tightly-contested 1-0 defeat to Sunderland…
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Injury worries continue to be the running theme in the Tranmere camp so far this season and it looks as if more bad news is on the horizon.
Liam Ridehalgh was forced off in the 67th-minute and with the absences of Neil Danns and Corey Blackett-Taylor, it looks like the next 24-48 hours could be season-defining.
However, Mellon was thrilled with the acquisition of known goal scorer James Vaughan, who has penned a loan deal from Bradford City until the end of the season.
“I am delighted to get him,” said Mellon.
“He is a player who can have a big impact. I like him as a player, I like his desire and I think he will bring quality.
“So I am pleased to have him here.”
In a first half where neither side managed to grab a foothold in the game, it was the hosts who created much of the early opportunities.
Connor Jennings and Wilson both going close from difference and Mellon believes he just needs that spark in the final third.
”I thought we might have a bit more quality and composure in the first half, which meant we might have got that first goal.
“We had another couple of opportunities and it is important that we bring as many good players to the club as possible.”
“I am not going to saying anything. We will be linked with loads of players because that is what people do,” said the Scotsman on potential arrivals.
“When the time is right, the people who need to know will be the first to know.
“But we have nothing else over the line at the minute.”