Tranmere came away from MK Dons with a point on Saturday after a hard-fought 1-1 draw, but it was so nearly all three points.
Cole Stockton and Jonny Smith were restored to the starting line-up following last week’s defeat against Newport, while Adam Buxton also kept his place. Another great following of nearly 800 travelled with Rovers, adding some noise to the typically bland and passionless atmosphere in Stadium:MK.
It was the hosts who started the brighter and they dominated the opening half hour. Much like their existence though, it was pointless as Rovers stood firm and the home team failed to breakthrough.
Eventually, Tranmere grew in to the game themselves. Ollie Banks had a pop from distance that went well over, while Norwood also saw a shot rise high in to the home end. Rovers were happy to slow things down and wait for an opportunity to break, and that worked perfectly in the 37th minute.
Norwood picked the ball up just inside the MK Dons half, dribbled across the pitch before playing a perfect through ball to Stockton. The Rovers’ striker saw his shot saved, but Jonny Smith followed up to finish neatly on the rebound.
It was the on-loan Bristol City man’s second goal of the season, and he gleefully celebrated in front of the home fans.
Tranmere looked like making it to the break in front, but MK got a leveller. Having defended a first cross well, the hosts worked the ball back out to the left before playing in another out-swinging cross.
McNulty looked to have it covered ready to head clear, but Scott Davies inexplicably came to try and punch about 6-8 yards off his line. He blocked McNulty from clearing and left Chuks Aneke with an open goal to slot home. The half-time whistle went moments later.
After the break, the home team started well again, and Davies made up for his error with two wonderful saves during the second half. Tranmere still threatened themselves, Banks doing much of the leading from the middle as he surged forward with the ball at every opportunity.
Mottley-Henry replaced Smith and continued to add a threat up the right. One bit of play between he, Banks and Buxtron resulted in Buxton’s cross finding Jennings free at the back post. The Tranmere man planted a firm header in to the turf only for it to rise inches over the crossbar as three points beckoned.
It was to be the final act of a solid game, and another good point for Tranmere.
MK Dons looked okay, played some nice football as you’d expect from a Paul Tidsdale team, but ultimately were a little too fancy in the final third.
Rovers now look toward a tough home game against leaders Lincoln City on Tuesday.