Oct 7 2013 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
TRANMERE ROVERS slumped to defeat and the bottom of League One at the County Ground thanks to a first-half Dany N’Guessan penalty.
Rovers travelled to Wiltshire with just five points from nine games and played out a hard-fought clash with Swindon, in which both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances.
But N’Guessan’s penalty was the difference on the day and Ronnie Moore’s side were left frustrated at their inability to test the Robins goalkeeper.
The clash got off to a quiet start, with Swindon stopper Wes Foderingham collecting an early Ryan Lowe cross before Chris Atkinson headed a Swindon corner well clear on six minutes.
Tranmere won a free-kick four minutes later, shortly after a deflected Nathan Byrne shot was comfortably dealt with by Owain Fon Williams, but Atkinson’s effort flew into Foderingham’s arms.
Byrne had another effort on the Tranmere goal on the quarter of an hour mark but this time his curling shot sailed over the bar from 20 yards.
Atkinson was again involved in the final third shortly after, but his right-footed strike from outside the area flew a few yards wide of the post.
Rovers began to apply some added pressure but Foderingham swept up to prevent Max Power from reaching the ball before Swindon went up the other end and Nile Ranger saw his header fly into the side netting.
There was a let-off for Tranmere after 20 minutes, when James McEveley got in behind the defence to meet Massimo Luongo’s cross but he headed straight at Fon Williams.
However Rovers went behind from the penalty spot after 29 minutes when Tom Hateley brought down Alex Pritchard in the area and N’Guessan sent Fon Williams the wrong way from 12 yards.
Swindon pressed on after the goal and won a series of corners, the last of which evaded the clutches of Fon Williams but the ball was cleared.
Atkinson continued to look dangerous for Tranmere and got himself into the hosts’ area after 38 minutes but sliced his shot wide – a let-off for Swindon.
Rovers upped the tempo in search of an equaliser and two minutes before the break Liam Ridehalgh collected Danny Holmes’ cross, beat two defenders and fired in a shot but it was well stopped by Foderingham.
Swindon enjoyed the better of the two minutes’ added time but the Rovers defence held firm to end the first half 1-0 down.
Rovers made an immediate impact in the second period, as debutant Jim McNulty’s early cross was tipped over the bar by Foderingham, but the corner came to nothing.
Lowe earned Tranmere a free-kick, following a tricky run, ten minutes into the second half but Power’s set-piece was confidently cleared by the hosts.
Tranmere began to assert themselves more on the game, enjoying more possession, but with Akpo Sodje – a late replacement up front for Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro – a little isolated they were left frustrated by a resolute Swindon back four.
And Swindon remained a threat on the counter, as Byrne showed on the hour mark by breaking away and releasing a 25-yard effort but Fon Williams saved comfortably.
Pritchard made space for another effort six minutes later but again it was from distance and off target, as the hosts struggled to break down Rovers.
Ridehalgh continued to offer the visitors’ most potent threat but his cross just a couple of minutes later was well defended once more.
Boss Moore replaced Sodje with Cole Stockton after 72 minutes and Lowe came close to pulling Rovers level soon after, collecting the ball after Atkinson’s corner and firing a shot into the side netting.
Tranmere produced more encouragement 12 minutes from time when Stockton laid off to Power, who fed Lowe but his shot was blocked after turning away from a defender.
Rovers were denied a penalty six minutes from time when substitute James Rowe sent Lowe away with a clever flick and the midfielder thought he had been felled in the box, but referee Charles Breakspear had other ideas.
Luongo gave Rovers a scare almost immediately afterwards, striking from outside the box and forcing Fon Williams into an excellent fingertip save.
Power hoisted a free-kick into the Swindon box late on, which bounced awkwardly in the six-yard box, but the referee saved the hosts from the danger by awarding a free-kick.
The two sides entered three minutes of injury time with Rovers in search of a dramatic equaliser, lumping balls into the hosts’ 18-yard box.
Swindon predictably looked to run the clock down but Stockton earned Tranmere a free-kick from 40 yards out in the final minute.
Power’s looped delivery was once again headed away and Swindon held onto the three points, as Moore’s side slipped to their seventh league defeat in then games.