Tranmere lose to Salford in 4-3 thriller

Tranmere hosted Salford City this afternoon in their fourth fixture of the 2023/24 League Two season.

Ahead of the game, Ian Dawes spoke about the Salford side, “We always watch the opposition. Salford have made a couple of changes tactically over the three games – they’ve mixed it up with a back four and a back three. 

“We’ve got to be aware of what they are and what they’re good at, because we’ve always got to do that, but ultimately if we perform like we did on Tuesday we’ll be too much for them and we’ll have them worried about us rather than us worried about them. It’s all about our character and mentality for the game on Saturday.”

Match Report: Tranmere Rovers v Salford City

Tranmere Rovers 3v4 Salford City
Jennings (6′)
Dennis (36′)
Jolley (87′)
GoalsSmith (34′)
Hendry (46′, 68′, 85′)
O’Connor (6′)
Norris (36′)
Hendry (87′)
AssistsBolton (34′)
Smith (46′)
Garbutt (68′)
Shephard (85′)
HT 2-1

Tranmere experienced a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Salford City in an electrifying battle at Prenton Park this afternoon.

Tranmere took the lead twice during the opening half, with Connor Jennings and Kristian Dennis finding the net on either side of Mathieu Smith’s strike as they headed into halftime with the advantage.

Yet, it was Callum Hendry who commanded the second half, netting three goals to the delight of the exultant away fans and clinching the victory.

In the waning moments, Charlie Jolley provided a glimmer of hope with a belated consolation, marking his triumphant return from a season-long injury absence.

Ian Dawes retained the lineup that were dominant in the impressive 3-0 victory against Harrogate Town on Tuesday night, and his team kicked off with equal fervour. A flawless delivery from Lee O’Connor found Jennings, who efficiently converted a close-range header to secure Rovers an early lead.

Kieron Morris unleashed a fierce attempt on target, only to be thwarted and denied by the defence. Subsequently, Tom Davies directed a header agonizingly off-target from a Regan Hendry cross as the first half neared its midpoint.

Shortly after the 35-minute mark, the visitors restored equilibrium. Luke Bolton orchestrated a move down the right flank, delivering a precise cross to Smith, who expertly side-footed the ball across Luke McGee and into the net.

However, the balance was short-lived. Tranmere Rovers quickly reclaimed the lead as Kristian Dennis notched his inaugural goal for the club. Jake Leake’s lengthy throw-in was deftly redirected by Luke Norris, finding its way to Rovers’ number 14, who adeptly manoeuvred to shoot past Alex Cairns.

Towards the conclusion of the first half, Norris had to exit the field due to an injury he sustained, prompting Paul Lewis to step in as play recommenced.

The pace of the match showed no signs of abating after halftime. Salford City managed to restore parity once more as Callum Hendry darted through and skillfully slotted his shot beyond McGee.

A few minutes later, Tranmere’s goalkeeper was up to the task, denying Conor McAleny’s attempt as the visitors sought a third goal. Halts in play caused by incidents involving Lewis and Curtis Tilt interrupted the flow for both teams, hindering their momentum.

By the 68th minute, Hendry orchestrated Salford’s ascendancy, elegantly manoeuvring into the box from the right before calmly dispatching the ball into the net.

In a swift response from the kick-off, Dennis came close to levelling the score. Jolley directed a tantalizing delivery towards him, leading to a rapid strike that was thwarted by Cairns.

Morris, twisting and turning within the penalty area, unleashed a shot that found the awaiting arms of the visiting goalkeeper. With 10 minutes remaining, Matthew Lund’s effort narrowly missed the target as he found himself one-on-one with the goal for the Ammies.

Subsequently, Josh Hawkes elegantly bent a precise cross into the penalty area, finding Dennis unmarked. However, his first-time volley, although struck with power, was collected appreciatively by Cairns.

Hendry achieved his hat-trick with only a few minutes left in the regulation time, all three of his goals materializing in the second half. Shortly thereafter, Jolley etched his return to the score sheet by tenaciously forcing the ball into the net amidst a goalmouth scramble.

Levelling the score was almost a reality for Dennis, as he came within mere millimetres of connecting with the ball. With twelve additional minutes on the clock, he lunged in to reach Jennings’ exceptional cross into the box, narrowly missing the crucial touch.

Despite the determined late attempts, none of them materialised, and Tranmere Rovers fell short in an enthralling seven-goal spectacle on their home turf.

Tranmere visit Notts County on Saturday 26 August for their fifth game of the 2023/24 League Two season.

Match Highlights


Credit: Tony Coombes

Fans’ Twitter Reaction

Post Match Interview


Tranmere Rovers – Formation 4-3-3
1 Luke McGee GK
2 Lee O’Connor DF
3 Jake Leake DF
5 Tom Davies (C) DF
6 Jordan Turnbull DF
8 Regan Hendry MF
7 Kieron Morris MF
18 Connor Jennings MF
14 Kristian Dennis FW
9 Luke Norris FW
20 Samuel Taylor FW

13 Joe Murphy SUB
21 Josef Yarney SUB
11 Josh Hawkes SUB
22 Paul Lewis SUB
16 Chris Merrie SUB
4 Brad Walker SUB
12 Charlie Jolley SUB

Ian Dawes

Match Officials
Scott Tallis
Assistants: Scott Williams and Conor Farrell
Fourth official: Alex Gray

Salford City – Formation 3-4-3
1 Alex Cairns (C) GK
16 Curtis Tilt DF
42 Theo Vassell DF
29 Luke Garbutt DF
24 Luke Bolton MF
32 Liam Shephard MF
8 Matthew Lund MF
14 Stephen Mallan MF
17 Matt Smith FW
18 Conor McAleny FW
9 Callum Hendry FW

13 Joe Wright SUB
23 Kevin Berkoe SUB
5 Adrian Mariappa SUB
10 Odin Bailey SUB
36 Marcus Dackers SUB
7 Ryan Watson SUB
11 Connor McLennan SUB

Neil Wood

Attendance: 5594

League 2 season attendance

2023/24 Total home attendance17456
2023/24 Total away attendance5831
2023/24 Total H&A attendance23287
2023/24 Average home attendance5819
2023/24 Average away attendance5831
2023/24 Average H&A attendance5825

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