Tranmere Rovers remain in the League One drop-zone after falling to a 2-0 defeat against high-flying Portsmouth at Prenton Park.

Unbeaten throughout all of January, Kenny Jackett’s promotion-chasing Pompey headed to the Wirral in a fine run of form and when Sean Raggett opened the scoring with the first 15 minutes, their luck didn’t look as if was going to change.

Glimpses of class carved out some goalscoring opportunities and Rovers remained the brighter side heading into the interval. However, when Ryan Williams unleashed his shot into the bottom right corner, the game was as good as gone.

With the January transfer having come and gone, looking at his completed squad that will compete at the business end of the competition, Micky Mellon will be fairly satisfied. Despite the inclusion of strikers James Vaughan and Andy Cook – whose goals helped guide the Super Whites to National League promotion back in 2017 – the best bit of business will undoubtedly be keeping hold of their big centre-half, Manny Monthe.

Portsmouth made the long trip up north unbeaten since they fell to a surprising 3-1 away defeat to MK Dons way back at the end of December, form which has propelled Jackett’s side into the play-off places.

Their most notable win came last Saturday when they saw off fellow high-flyers Sunderland at Fratton Park with a comprehensive 2-0 victory and didn’t take too long in securing an opener.

Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Doncaster found fresh gaps in the Tranmere defence and Portsmouth didn’t take much time in opening some of their own.

After a lapse in concentration, Raggett ghosted into the box unchallenged to head past Davies, much to the delight of the travelling Pompey faithful.

Tranmere did start to grow into the game, though. Cook went close just minutes later when his flick off Corey Blackett-Taylor’s cross fell safely into the arms of Alex Bass, while the striker was in the thick of it once again moments later. Blackett-Taylor caused nightmares for Portsmouth right-back James Bolton, he then fed a cross in the direction of an outstretched Cook, who failed to make any decent contact.

Having looked the most likely to equalise throughout much of the first-half, the second period started as bad the first. Portsmouth piled on the pressure, which saw the ball was worked out to the right-hand side to Williams, whose low left-footed shot squirmed past Scott Davies.

Great work by substitute Morgan Ferrier nearly clawed one back for the hosts just after the hour mark. Excellent work to hold off the Pompey defence in the 18-yard area opened some space to unleash a shot, but he could only watch his effort skim past the post.

Monthe’s 70th-minute strike was blocked by a sea of blue shirts, after a scramble in the Portsmouth penalty area. The ball eventually made its way out to Kieron Morris, who failed to find the target with the resulting effort.

Despite already have a commanding 2-0 lead, Portsmouth went in search of a third. Davies reacted well after a lovely one-two created Ben Close some space, but the Tranmere captain was alert to the danger.

On their quest for a consolation, some more great work by Cook opened some room 25 yards out, but the striker was unable to get his head over the ball, as his speculative effort sailed over in the dying embers of the game.

Image – Tranmere Rovers