JEAN-LOUIS AKPA AKPRO’S second-half double proved decisive as top-of-the-table Tranmere came from behind to beat Scunthorpe and maintain their unbeaten start to the League Two season.
Two goals in two minutes just after the hour mark were the turning point of a game that the home side dominated for large parts.
Karl Hawley’s first-ever goal for Scunthorpe had put the Iron deservedly in front at the break but not for nothing are Rovers the league leaders and they fought back in fine style after the interval.
Captain James Wallace started the comeback with his first goal of the season and Akpa Akpro reacted quickest to a loose ball to turn home Rovers second before coolly slotting home a third.
Despite the difference in the league table at the start of proceedings it was the Iron who started the brighter of the two sides.
Hawley fired an early warning shot when he found some space inside the first three minutes but his flicked header went over Owain fon Williams’ bar in the Tranmere goal.
The home side were on top and Mark Duffy forced a fantastic save from fon Williams just a moment later with a curling free-kick that had the Welshman at full stretch.
The opener was not much longer in coming and when it did it was deservedly for the Iron as on 15 minutes Jimmy Ryan created a half a yard of space before whipping in a dangerous ball that Hawley headed home hard and low.
Scunthorpe’s tails were now well and truly up as the Rovers defence appeared to be creaking more than at any other time this season.
But Ronnie Moore’s men grew into the clash and as the interval approached it was the away side on top and they came closest to the second goal of the game when a storming run from Wallace brought him a clear sight of goal but his shot was straight at Slocombe.
And then on the stroke of half-time both sides had great chances to add to the scoreline, first Duffy testing fon Williams from distance before an overlapping Zoumana Bakayogo snatched at his effort when well placed and fired over for Rovers.
Much like the first half it was the home side who came out of the blocks the brighter after the interval and Christian Ribeiro forced a smart save from fon Williams on 48 minutes.
But despite that early chance the league leaders looked to be growing in stature and Adam McGurk, on as a first-half replacement for the injured Andy Robinson, might have done better with his header on 54 minutes that flew wide.
But the Iron were having to do a lot more defending in the second half as Tranmere ramped up the pressure without creating a chance of any real note as the hour mark came and went.
Indeed it took a set-piece on 64 minutes for Rovers to level things up and it came from the skipper Wallace, the midfielder climbing high to head in McGurk’s corner off the underside of the bar. And no sooner had the visitors equalised than they were in front and it was the in-form Akpa Akpro who reacted quickest to squeeze in his sixth goal of the season on 66.
That two-minute blitz turned the game on its head and seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side who failed to muster much of a response in the last quarter.
Indeed it was Rovers who looked more likely to find a third as both McGurk and Jake Cassidy spurned very presentable opportunities before Akpa Akpro slid home the third in the 88th minute.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe, Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Newey, Duffy (Barcham 76), Walker, Prutton (Grella 82), Ryan, Clarke, Hawley. Subs not used: Severn, Reid, Jennings, Gibbons, Sedgwick.TRANMERE: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Gibson, Bakayogo, Bell-Baggie, Wallace, Palmer, Robinson (McGurk 22), Cassidy, Akpa Akpro. Subs not used: Mooney, Kay, Golobart, Harrison, Kirby, Stockton
REFEREE: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).